Committee: Forum on Indigenous People’s Rights

Issue: Protecting and promoting the natural and cultural heritage of indigenous people

Chair: Alexandre Riou



While today, discrimination and mistreatment are horrible actions we try to condemn it was not always the case. In the fight for new land, during and after the 15th century, colonization disrupted the lives of those living in newly conquered territories. Very often, indigenous tribes were extremely badly treated by Europeans during and after colonization. This includes discriminization, marginalization, ethnocide and genocide, and exploitation. Overall, their human rights were severely violated. The populations who lived on the land before colonization are what we call indigenous people or tribal people.

Although there exists no international definition for indigenous people, WIPO and ILO[1] underline the idea of people who inhabited a country before conquest; who have some independence from the rest of the society in their operation (politically, socially, culturally, economically); and who self-identify as belonging to a group (their tribe).

Indigenous and tribal populations are present in more than 70 countries worldwide, amounting to 370 million people in at least 5000 groups. They are found in all regions of the world with many different climates. Most importantly, their nature-respectful lifestyle means their territory could contain up to 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity. This raises one of the main purposes of this committee, which is to protect the indigenous and their very rich territory. On top of this, all indigenous groups have their own cultures, practices, artistic expressions, and possibly unknown knowledge passed on through the generations.

An important aspect of the problem is that we need to think differently by taking into account the tribe’s point of view. Previous conventions had the wrong integrationist approach, which means we assumed the ideal was for indigenous communities to join the rest of the society. Today, organisations like the UN try to enforce respect of the Indigenous and preserve their knowledge and expression while protecting it as well as their land, instead of getting rid of it.

Key Terms


As mentioned before, indigenous includes the key ideas of inhabiting a region before it was colonized (for example by the Europeans), the fact indigenous people recognize themselves as being indigenous (or call themselves part of a tribe), and have some of their own institutions, practices and legal status. Indigenous also gives the idea that the population has quite a similar lifestyle to what the same community would have experienced during pre-colonial times. They usually have their own beliefs, distinct culture, and have some distance from the rest of society. Can also be referred to as Native people or Tribal people.



An object, structure, or element of culture which was passed on through generations, was preserved, and evokes a part of history, a group / society.


Ethnic group

A group of people who recognize each other as being part of the same “category”. People from the same ethnic group share a language, lifestyles, religion, culture, etc. It is usually an inherited status, meaning it depends on the society an individual is in. Example: Arabs, English, specific indigenous groups, etc.



Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a population of a certain category. Ethnocide is cultural genocide, destruction of the culture of an ethnic group.

Natural Heritage

Natural heritage, not to be confused with cultural heritage, refers to designated areas and their natural aspects. This area is often untouched by man or closely protected. It could also be that this land is considered as belonging to indigenous communities through inheritance. However natural heritage can be threatened by organisations willing to exploit it, also affecting the tribes who live there.

Cultural resources

Cultural resources are structures, objects, or sites which give evidence of past human activity, possibly displaying the culture of a population. Cultural heritage is an expression of a community’s lifestyle, passed on through generations. This heritage can be tangible like buildings, environments, objects; or intangible[2] like dances and rituals. Cultural heritage include TK, TCEs and GRs.

Traditional Knowledge (TK)[3]

Traditional knowledge includes any knowledge, discoveries, skills and practices which define a community, passed on from generation to generation. In a general sense it include Traditional Cultural Expressions.


Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCE)

Traditional Cultural Expressions, according to the IGC, “include music, dance, art, designs, names, signs and symbols, performances, ceremonies, architectural forms, handicrafts, narratives” and any other cultural and/or artistic expressions. A synonym for TCEs is folklore.


Genetic Resources (GR)

Genetic resources are any living organisms like a plant or animal which have a useful purpose for humans. For indigenous communities, an important genetic resource could be a particular medicinal or hallucinogenic herb; or a special crop.



United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a branch of the UN concentrating on international cooperation to improve education, science, culture and communication. UNESCO also promotes cultural diversity and believes heritage is important to link generations and society. For our committee, cultural protection and promotion by UNESCO is important, through services like the UNESCO World Heritage Site.



The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the ECOSOC council giving a voice to workers. It made a major breakthrough in indigenous rights with convention 107 and 169.


The Intergovernmental  Committee is a relatively new committee (established in 2000) as a part of WIPO, focusing on the protection of indigenous populations regarding their TK, TCEs and GRs. The issues treated by the IGC are therefore very close to our issue, but do not treat Natural Heritage at all, focusing only on cultural heritage.


Biopiracy is when Genetic Resources - like a plant - which were previously known, are exploited by another party like a researcher meeting with indigenous populations and exploiting a well known (by the locals) GR. The exploitation is often under the form of a patent or use for production and commercialization. The piracy resides in the fact groups and countries from which the product originates are not compensated.

General Overview


Heritage Definition

The definition of heritage used for this committee will have a very wide, general sense, as it will include both cultural and natural heritage.

Regarding cultural heritage, we can assimilate the protection and promotion of cultural heritage with the (IGC) Intergovernmental Committee’s purpose. Indeed it concentrates on intellectual property resulting from indigenous activities, which may include Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural expressions and Genetic resources. As this part of the topic is linked with Intellectual property, our debate, partly regarding cultural heritage includes protection by law, thus patents, copyrights and trademarks. In particular, protection of cultural heritage introduces dealing with Biopiracy and the unfair use of patents. This is the case if the individual benefiting from a specific patent or trademark is not the original owner or creator of the actual product. In our case, it could be that an idea or a genetic resource is copied from indigenous communities and used without their consent, and without the community benefitting from the use.

This issue also deals with natural heritage, which means we have to consider the protection of fauna, flora and natural resources, which has been preserved or is untouched by mankind. Natural Heritage is tied with Indigenous communities thanks to their nature-respectful lifestyle.

Therefore it is very important that the result of this debate presents solutions not only to the protection of indigenous territory, but also to the protection and promotion of their cultural heritage, so that they can benefit from the intellectual property system to become more integrated into society.


Indigenous Populations

Indigenous communities are present everywhere in the world. Most of the indigenous people live in Asia, with more than 150 million people. However, the African continent clearly has more distinct tribes and indigenous groups than any other continent. Indigenous communities live in many different climates from tropical rain forests in South America to extreme cold in Alaska. This contributes greatly to the amazing cultural diversity indigenous communities offer. The proportion of indigenous people relative to the rest of the population in a country varies greatly. It can go anywhere from less than a percent for countries like Brazil to more than 50% in many African countries and in the cold harsh climates of Antarctica. In general, Asia really is the dominant continent with two thirds of the indigenous population, followed by Latin America. Indigenous communities from Antarctica represent a very low percentage of the total indigenous population. More demographic information is linked in the bibliography. [link]


Indigenous communities around the world: Inuit, Quechua, Zulu. All rights to respective owners

However, it is important to remember that low population proportion does not necessarily mean indigenous communities are confined to cramped areas. For example in Brazil, 13% of the national territory is legally protected by reserves for indigenous, even though indigenous people only represent 0.41% of the Brazilian population. The indigenous lifestyle is very conservative and respectful of nature, which explains why the Amazonian rainforest is so well preserved in areas inhabited by the Amazonian tribes. We can therefore say that protecting Indigenous communities in general is a way to protect nature and natural heritage. On top of this, the legally reserved indigenous territories in Brazil prevent destructive exploitation of the rainforest: indigenous tribes really are vital for the environment. Areas which are reserved for the natives supposedly cannot be exploited. However there is a constant battle to keep these areas closed from destructive development, so action is required for it to stay this way. Illegal exploitation of indigenous territory can also greatly harm the tribes. This is where the need for protection comes in.


Of course some indigenous communities are more integrated with the rest of society than others. A sign of integration could be the presence of political parties representing the interests of the indigenous in the respective  countries. This is quite common, with political parties in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Malaysia and more. But these political parties generally do not gain many votes and are never the top parties. They do however provide a first step in the proper representation of indigenous in governments. And of course, a political party, just like any organization, helps recognition for the indigenous problems.

The indigenous rights are an important matter, because arguably, ensuring proper rights for indigenous communities is a way of protecting their heritage. According to ILO, indigenous people do not and should not have special rights. The most important element is that they are ensured rights since this was so often neglected in the past. Fortunately, in the last century, conventions like the famous convention 169 from ILO were created to ensure rights for the indigenous and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ILO also specifies that indigenous people are not given special rights, but it can happen that human rights have to apply to them in a way which allows for their specific lifestyle. ILO gives the example of education, where indigenous children should be able to benefit from education in the same way as any other children, although education for them has to take into account their particular language and culture. But inequalities persist, and in many countries, indigenous people form a higher proportion of the population in jail, their life expectancy is lower than the rest of society, their suicide rates are higher, their infant mortality rates are higher, they are less successful at school, etc. Most importantly, indigenous children who do have the possibility of going to school often do not study their own culture at school which is quite unsatisfying from a cultural point of view. Most of the organizations and political parties exist  to prevent the government from stealing more land from the indigenous, and to ask back some of the land which has been lost.


Indigenous Heritage

Indigenous Heritage takes many different forms, both intangible and tangible. Before offering protection and promotion for this heritage, we have to understand what the heritage consists of. First of all, note that most indigenous communities still living in the forest rely on a hunting and gathering society to live. It is arguable that hunting itself is an important aspect of culture, using special handmade bows, sometime poisonous arrows or blow darts. It is safe to assume that every community has its own way of hunting. Note that guns are also used for hunting nowadays. The life in an indigenous village is also full of TCEs. Indeed, many indigenous communities perform a lot of dances and singing, for example as a form of ceremony to celebrate for the harvest. The community itself can also produce art like weaving, with weaving patterns distinct to indigenous communities, which is a form of tangible culture. The presence of TK is also important because tribes have extremely good knowledge of their surroundings and a lot of knowledge about the function of plants, possibly medical, and the forest in general. Examples of TK can also include structures, like the irrigation methods used by indigenous communities in the Philippines for rice culture.


         An indigenous Maori and his Ta moko distinct face tattoo, a form of TCE (all credits to Jimmy Nelson)

There is also a culture embedded in the tribal lifestyle, such as their way of living very close to nature, believing in spiritual ties between humans and animals. And of course every indigenous community has its own set of myths and rituals. This can be linked with more tangible culture like genetic resources, because shamans would use special plants (drugs) to enter their state of trance and “call the shaman’s spirits”. In any case, the shaman’s job reflects the link with nature which indigenous communities have, since they “establish the link with the world and powers of nature”. For some communities like the Awa in Brazil, no drugs are used, as the trance is dance induced. Art can also take the form of mural paintings on rocks like in Australia and Asia, sometimes very old. Communities also have strong spiritual beliefs concerning the dead and usually have specific events concerning them. The point is that indigenous populations are very different which means they allow for a great cultural diversity. The problem with this is that as a minority it can sometimes be difficult for indigenous communities to fully integrate into society because their culture is so vastly different. Therefore we can see problems like discrimination and bullying, making integration quite difficult.

And of course, a very important part of heritage is the natural aspect of land. The Amazonian Rainforest is what comes to mind, but is far from the only forest which serves as a home for indigenous communities. For example, the forest is protected with recognised “key biodiversity areas”, protecting the forest and tribes which live in these “ancestral areas”. However even with procedures define indigenous rights in these areas, they are often difficult to set because of sociocultural, practical, political and financial reasons. Forests are quite frequently part of the indigenous territory and shelter the majority of earth’s biodiversity, which explains, why indigenous communities are so important today. A more dramatic aspect of the problem is that indigenous land can sometimes cover important quantities of minable resources and gas, which may threaten tribes. This is where indigenous communities need exterior protection.


Note: check Survival for more information on the (South African) indigenous lifestyle


Indigenous exploitation and threat

The direct threat to indigenous communities is of course in the threat to their land. The most well known and shocking example is in Brazil. Theoretically, the indigenous communities should be protected by the government which has ratified conventions, provides legal protection zones and owns most of the Rain forest. In reality, tribes are at great risk because of illegal timber exploitation which get closer and closer to the tribes, destroying the ecosystem while doing so. This is a real threat to the natives, because as well as destroying the forest, they destroy animals’ habits, which indigenous rely on for food. There are also violent fights between the illegal timber exploiters and the tribes. A real problem is also the arrival of diseases from other men. A common cold could easily kill the indigenous who are not used to facing these diseases.

But the threat can also come from the government itself: South America agricultural economy needs huge crop fields which slowly take over the Rainforest. There are also discoveries of oil and gas which lead to forest destruction if they will be exploited. Last but not least, mining is also a major threat for the forest, and therefore the indigenous. Regarding threats for territory, nomads are in the same situation as other indigenous people. Note that the problem is not only in Brazil but in the entire Amazonian area and other areas of the world. Peru is facing the same issues as Brazil. Other land-related issues arise from other countries like in Cambodia where many indigenous have seen their land stolen to be used by big Chinese sugarcane farms.

Satellite imagery shows how indigenous territories (numbered green areas) conserve Amazon rainforest and act as a barrier to deforestation (other colors)

All credits to Survival 

Another problem for Indigenous communities is exploitation. There are many cases of unlawful indigenous exploitation, and Biopiracy. For example, in 1986, Loren Miller patented ayahuasca, a plant used by shamans in South America for its hallucinogenic effects. She then had all rights to sell and breed the plant, even though she patented a well known sacred plants of the Amazon tribes. It then took more than ten years for indigenous communities to realize a part of their culture was generating money to a non-indigenous person. In 1999, after the indigenous people had proved Miller was not at the origin of this “discovery”, the patent was cancelled. Miller managed to revoke the patent in 2001 but this new revocation was essentially useless. This is definitely not the only case of Biopiracy. More recently, there have been problem concerning TCEs. Indeed, The French fashion designer Isabel Marant was caught copying indigenous blouse designs from the Oaxaca community. Her clothes sold for more than 10 times what the indigenous communities were charging for. She even tried to trademark the design.

French designer’s pattern closely resembles indigenous design


These examples show the threat lie directly in the indigenous territory with destruction of territory, but there is also a threat for culture with actions like Biopiracy and the unfair establishment of copyrights and trademarks. These are aspects the IGC is working on, to protect the Indigenous communities. Natives are often very affected by poverty, and it certainly does not help if revenue is stolen by external parties with no remuneration. Organizations are trying to make sure that indigenous communities receive at least part of the profit resulting in the use of their TK. Other smaller threats to Indigenous communities could be budget cuts to organizations like FUNAI, which is a Brazilian government body helping the indigenous


Case Study: the Peruvian government

The Peruvian government is quite interesting to study because of the decisions it made to protect the indigenous communities. The Peruvian government’s main focus is on genetic resources and their protection; however the indigenous communities are asking that the actions in place offer a better protection of the whole of TK. They established a sui generis regime, which means they established a law that is one of a kind. This regime was established by Law 27811 in August 2002. It was created in order to give proper protection to the indigenous, and ensuring their knowledge is not stolen. The law has the very important function of making sure no patents will be established, relying on indigenous knowledge with any compensation towards the indigenous communities. It includes the fundamental idea of consent: people who possess knowledge have to be informed and agree before any access to the knowledge can be made. Indigenous people can also write terms for the use of their knowledge. An innovative idea in this law was the creation of a “Fund for the Development of Indigenous People”. This fund received 10% of sales from marketing based on indigenous traditional knowledge. This is an incredibly good idea because it can provide money for evolution in the indigenous community. It also helps a lot because Indigenous people are often part of the people suffering from poverty the most. The law also aims to promote the fair use of indigenous knowledge as it really can help both the indigenous communities and anybody using the traditional knowledge. A part of the law also mentions public domain: TK enters public domain if information is released through media sources, even accidentally. In this case, the law encourages some sort of compensation to the indigenous communities such as monetary donations or donation of goods (schools, centers, clinics, etc.) if the knowledge is used; but cannot restrict the use of the knowledge.

As another way of preserving the knowledge, the law also created registers such as the National Public Register. It seems to be an important database of information relating to TK, as well as institution in charge of challenging unfair patents. Unlike other registers, this one is open to the public. Thanks to this registry system, TK will be more visible as indigenous populations will have an easier time registering their knowledge. On top of the registry system, there can be licenses to use the Traditional Knowledge, in exchange of a compensation in the form of money or donations like schools, with a value of 10% of the gross sales. Note that Peru also made important requests for further protection regarding the TRIPS agreement (world IP trade), as well as with the Andean region.


Indigenous protection and promotion

It should now be clear what needs protection, and with the case study, how protection can be established. One of the hardest aspects of the issue is how to have promotion of the indigenous heritage, but with benefits for the indigenous community. Unfair use of TK is arguably promotion, but not the type of promotion we want. A good example of promotion would be the brand TOI IHO. This is a Maori brand, with the slogan ‘Maori made’. This is important, because it makes the brand easily recognizable for its help to the indigenous communities, and the customer knows the product is genuine. The brand was supported by WIPO. The brand can then use profit to help the indigenous community. This is the type of promotion we are interested in. It is also important to understand that promotion and protection go hand in hand. For example, while it is possible to buy cloth made by indigenous communities in the Philippines, it is illegal to copy the weaving pattern because this is protected, to guarantee the indigenous can continue to sell their product.

Protection is also assured through organizations like Survival which spread awareness about the cause of the indigenous and allow donations to help the communities. Protection can also be assured through government bodies like FUNAI in Brazil, and NGOs like UNESCO which promotes the culture and the UN in general. Other organizations take care of the nature protection: we could take as an example COICA, protecting the Amazon River basin. Of course, laws are also crucial as a measure of protection.  Protection and promotion can come in very different forms. The most important part is to understand the problem we have to resolve. And of course, conventions and official UN texts have the goal to become ratified and in turn protect the indigenous.

Regarding Protection of IP, there are generally 2 ways you can attack the problem: positive protection and defensive protection. Positive protection is simply making sure the indigenous communities have a reliable protection regarding their IP, and a reliable way of claiming misuse of their IP. The main objectives of positive protection are to promote the fair use of IP laws which indigenous communities can benefit from, and simplify the procedure for holders of TK. Defensive protection is strictly making sure no individual can copy TK and be granted patents on this TK.


Previous Conventions and Committees

Note that IGC, the WIPO committee in charge of  cultural heritage protection, is quite recent. There are several sessions every year, with the goal of improving the draft article. You can find all the results of every session on their website, and have videos of the entire session. An important fact to consider is that the reason we need the IGC, is because the IP system does not apply to indigenous communities very well. Indeed, a key feature in indigenous communities is the idea of centralized ownership: an object or idea belongs and can be used by everyone in the community. However this completely goes against the IP system, which provides protection for the idea of a single individual. This is why we need to modify how IP works regarding indigenous communities as the IGC is doing.UNDRIP.png

Notable important conventions for indigenous include Convention 169 from ILO. This convention set the basis for indigenous rights. Another extremely important convention United Nations Declaration  on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. This declaration insisted on the rights of indigenous peoples’ “rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.”(according to the UN).                                

This FerMUN committee has the particularity of having not only government representatives as delegations, but also tribe representatives, which will fully act in the production of resolutions and count as independent delegations during the debate. It is also important to understand the subject debated will be different from the IGC because this committee also discusses the natural heritage aspect of the problem.

Countries and Organizations involved

Even if you are a delegation representing a tribe, it is sincerely recommended that you also do research on your corresponding country’s government and vice-versa. You can find information about your specific country in this document to get started with your research. Note that the information below and suggested is very general, and does not give much or any information directly related to the subject. Thorough research work is needed.


The UNESCO organisation plays a major role relating to the protection of indigenous land and culture. Indeed it tries to engage with indigenous communities, and believes the indigenous are among the organisation’s priority areas of response. It can also protect indigenous territory and culture by marking it a World Heritage site. More information here


The government of Argentina has been quite inactive in the protection of its indigenous communities and does not consider the claims to ancestral territory, especially for the Mapuche people. It considers some tribes as a problem because they are stopping exploitation of natural resources. The government is accused by various organisations of actions going against the protection of its tribes.


Australia is at a stage where its indigenous communities have already integrated quite well with society. However inequalities persist between the aboriginals and the non-indigenous population, which the government did try to address with specific programs. There are no problems in term of land ownership.


Canada has been quite involved in the protection of its “Indians”. It does have some problems with violence against indigenous people. It has endorsed UNDRIP but has not ratified ILO Convention 169


Indonesian tribes form a very important part of the indonesian population (more than 20%). In reality most of the population identifies as indigenous. The government has ratified UNDRIP, but it refuses to protect any particular groups as most of the population is indigenous. It has taken initiatives in the protection of its land such as with the One Map plan. There have been some conflicts and threats regarding indigenous land, but the government does understand the importance of protecting it.


Mexico has the most important indigenous population out of all American countries. The government has ratified UNDRIP and does recognition and political freedom to its indigenous population. The Indigenous seem more vulnerable (malnutrition, higher mortality rate) but are quite well integrated into the society, even politically. Mining companies are a threat to indigenous territory.

New Zealand

The Maori, 15% of the population in New Zealand, are quite integrated into society. There are visible inequalities between Maori and non indigenous population, such as lower life expectancy, lower qualifications and higher percentage of the population in Jail. The government is taking slow but definitive actions to give the Maori more rights and land.


The Quechua are the most important indigenous group in Peru. The government seems quite involved in indigenous protection (ratified convention 169 and took initiatives in  IP protection). However there are risks for the indigenous territory, very rich in resources. The industrial sector is doing everything to exploit this territory and the government is promoting industries for economic development.


Indigenous culture and natural heritage has been quite well preserved in  the philippines. However they are quite independent from society and are at a risk of land grabbing by industry for the ressources on their land. Indigenous people are trying to be represented in the government and therefore have their ideas better communicated and defended.

South Africa

        Even if indigenous communities only represent a very low percentage of the population, the South African government does properly consider the indigenous related issues, with the creation of Bills to protect them and measures to make sure land ownership is guaranteed. Indigenous communities are slowly gaining importance politically.


Even with efforts to help indigenous communities in Thailand, the situation remains difficult for the indigenous who have faced land grabbing and violence, with destruction of their villages by industrial companies.


Possible Solutions

Regarding IP, there are a few very general rules which would allow for a much better situation for the indigenous community. The most important aspect needed in this society is consent: it is essential that companies wanting to exploit Indigenous knowledge only do so if the indigenous communities have been told and agree. Only the indigenous should be able to choose whether a piece of their knowledge is shared or not. This is very important, because first of all, some pieces of TK are considered sacred and surely indigenous communities do not want it spread. Secondly, if TK is unlawfully used or stolen from the natives, they will never benefit from the use of their knowledge and will not be compensated. The ideal situation is for indigenous Traditional Knowledge to be used in counter-part for compensation by the company using it. This is very interesting because it could help communities to get out of poverty, and the money could be used for infrastructure to compensate the visible gap between indigenous and non indigenous communities.

According to the Max Planck  UN yearbook 11, One solution especially regarding positive promotion would be to have a dedicated law or system for IP in every country, because each country is so different with specific cultures needing protection. These systems would obey international common objectives. We can also say that the law established in Peru regarding TK is very innovative and wants to offer adequate protection for the indigenous. And of course solutions should be proposed at the IGC itself. It is recommended that you take a look at the draft articles about TK and TCEs discussed during last summer’s session. NGO like bodies of the UN are also important to promote new indigenous made businesses like Toi Iho. We can also think that government bodies are very important as they will orient the decisions made by the country to offer at least some level of consideration and protection for the indigenous. There have been initiatives from governments to reduce the inequalities between indigenous and the rest of the society, but their efficiency is questionable as programs like Australia’s “close the gap” did not seem to work.

Regarding the protection of natural heritage, the Amazonian rainforest is the most well known endangered area but definitely not the only one. The threat in the Amazonian rainforest is very similar  to threats regarding indigenous territory anywhere around the world : the problem is government inaction when faced with problems  such as the exploitation of resources on indigenous territory. Note that this exploitation could be illegal. Survival believes the most important action to help indigenous communities is make sure their cause is properly known. It also encourages readers of their website to submit letters directed to governments to condemn their behaviour. When looking at books such as Indigenous Peoples' Land Rights under International Law”, we see that the use of international human rights law to protect the indigenous and legally claim their land is possible but difficult. It seems very important for more ownership rights to be recognised so that the communities can be legally protected. However this seems quite difficult because there is often no true evidence that a certain piece of land belongs to indigenous people. It is also very important that action is taken when the right to land is violated. The governments have to be confronted with a decision to make regarding the protection of indigenous land. Of course conventions like ILO’s convention 169 are very important and do offer protection to indigenous territory and its exploitation; but the convention has to be properly applied. In the end, it is up to you to find innovative solutions, perhaps less theoretical and which can apply more easily than existing international law.

Remember that it is very important for this committee to deal with both natural heritage and cultural heritage. In the end, the protection of natural heritage and cultural heritage has to be made at the same time for any action to be truly effective.


On a final note, remember that helping indigenous communities is part of Agenda 2030, as it is needed to meet requirements in healthcare, education and poverty.


It may be a good idea to have a  quick look at official reports and draft ideas to get a sense of the ideas in this committee.

UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people


Presentation of the IGC

Draft articles :

Important: Last session’s Keynote Address :

Max Planck UNYB report :

IWGIA: Excellent website for information on all indigenous groups

Report with many indigenous communities analysed per country:

Ayahuasca case :

More WIPO case studies :


Indigenous people:

Convention 169

Handbook for ILO Convention 169 understanding

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (DRIPS)

List of Indigenous people

Demographic facts

Information about tribes

Survival’s 2016 report:

Document on indigenous protected areas

Toi Iho

Other case studies

French design scandal

Remember to check for any governmental websites while doing your research, they are usually very helpful.

[1] And the UN in general. All organizations agree on a very similar definition. This definition is inspired from a ILO issued document.

[2] Literally : unable to be touched

[3] TK, TCE and GR definitions are inspired from the WIPO website