Cooperation with indigenous peoples

This Report aims to analyse the progress made in the cooperation between the European Union and indigenous peoples and to make recommendations for the future.


Report from the Commission to the Council of 11 June 2002. Review of progress of working with indigenous peoples [COM(2002) 291 final - Not published in the Official Journal].



The active participation of indigenous peoples plays an important role in the development process as it enables these peoples, who are often vulnerable and disadvantaged, to shape their own development.

The European Union has already established a framework for its activities in this area through a working paper presented in 1998, which was reaffirmed through a Development Council Resolution adopted the same year [Conclusions of the Development Council - 30.11.1998]. The report consolidates these initiatives.

Framework for cooperation

Three specific guidelines have been identified in the report:

Progress realised in implementing the Resolution

The report focuses mainly on the 1998-2000 period, during which the EU carried out a vast range of activities. It allocated EUR 21.9 million to projects directly benefiting indigenous peoples.

Progress realised: integrating concern for indigenous peoples into all policies, programmes and projects.

Indigenous peoples are affected directly or indirectly by a wide range of EU policies and activities, including the promotion of human rights and democracy and the policy on the environment and sustainable development. In order to integrate fully concern for indigenous peoples, it is important to:

The Commission has succeeded in incorporating this issue into a range of legislation, and its integration into the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) has been particularly important.

The introduction of development assistance also entails discussions and adoption of strategic guidelines between the EU and recipients. Questions concerning indigenous peoples have been integrated into a series of framework agreements and strategic documents concluded with the EU's partners, such as the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP). Once aid has been granted, systematic monitoring must include assessment of the impact of these measures on the indigenous peoples.

In order to improve implementation and the impact of the EU's assistance, the Commission has already drawn up a staff-training programme. The creation of a working group is one of the measures adopted to improve coordination and coherence within the EU.

Progress realised: consultation of indigenous peoples A project has a greater chance of succeeding if the beneficiaries are fully involved in all stages of the project. As a result, the Commission has identified three main actions to achieve this objective:

The Commission has set up consultation mechanisms and contact points in the Commission's services. Consultation also takes place via an informal network of three indigenous peoples' organisations.

There has been broad consultation of indigenous peoples in order to obtain better information concerning their situation (legal, socio-economic, etc.). This has enabled the EU to identify their priorities. Two major priorities have been identified: the environment and racism. The limited participation of indigenous peoples in the development process and civil society is another issue that must be tackled.

The results of the consultations have also demonstrated that the procedures for applying for financial support are a significant obstacle to the participation of indigenous peoples. Consideration should also be given to setting up microprojects that are better adapted to their situation.

Progress achieved: support for indigenous peoples in priority areas

The Commission presents some examples of the vast number of projects undertaken during this period. The projects have been designed to:

Further action required

Cooperation with indigenous peoples is an evolving process. Certain measures are proposed to improve this cooperation in the future:


Council conclusions on indigenous peoples.General Affairs Council - 18 November 2002 [Not published in the Official Journal]. In its conclusions, the Council invites the Commission and the Member States to:

The Council further invites the Commission to:

Last updated: 06.06.2007