Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


The Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is one of the special mechanisms overseen by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This was the first Rapporteurship the Commission established, in 1990, in order to devote special attention to indigenous peoples, many of whom are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations. The purpose of the Rapporteurship is to protect and advance indigenous peoples’ rights throughout the Organization of American States (OAS) Member States.


One of the Commission’s seven Commissioners is selected to be the Rapporteur for a three-year term, which may be renewed once. Each Commissioner serves in an independent capacity and does not represent his or her country of citizenship. The Commissioner who holds the office undertakes his or her work on a part-time basis, including during the three times per year that the Commission is in session. One or more lawyers in the Commission’s Executive Secretariat, in Washington, D.C., assist the Rapporteur.

The Rapporteur has many duties, including conducting country visits to OAS Member States, undertaking specialized studies, engaging in promotional activities, and preparing publications. The Rapporteurship also advises the Commission in its processing of individual petitions, cases, and requests for provisional and precautionary measures that involve indigenous rights. On its website, the Rapporteurship lists the Inter-American decisions and judgments that address indigenous peoples’ rights. The Rapporteurship also collaborates with the Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is part of the OAS Permanent Council.

Country Visits

The Rapporteurship conducts country visits to OAS Member States, with their consent. The Rapporteur is often accompanied by other members of the Commission or members of the Executive Secretariat staff. During country visits, the Rapporteur engages with indigenous peoples, government officials, and civil society organizations focused on indigenous rights. The visits allow the Rapporteur to expand his or her understanding of the challenges facing the enforcement of indigenous rights. The Rapporteurship provides brief descriptions of its country visits on its webpage, and participates in the preparation of country reports published by the Commission following more general on-site visits.

Receiving Information

Aside from information gathered during country visits, the Rapporteurship often obtains information through promotional activities on indigenous rights, including the organization of seminars, conferences, and specialized meetings. The Rapporteurship is often invited to participate in forums with indigenous leaders and regional meetings of international experts on indigenous rights. The Office of the Rapporteur has also issued questionnaires to obtain information for its reports.

Additionally, the Commission holds thematic hearings to gather information from States and civil society on particular issues. The Rapporteur may participate in these hearings or refer to the information discussed in subsequent reports. View the Commission’s searchable database of public hearings to see those related to the human rights of indigenous peoples.


The Rapporteurship publishes thematic reports and studies on issues affecting indigenous rights. The thematic reports include recommendations to OAS Member States to assist them in fulfilling their international obligations to protect indigenous rights. The Rapporteurship contributes to the preparation of country reports published by the Commission. The Office of the Rapporteur has a duty to provide the Commission with annual reports of its activities, which the Commission then shares in its own Annual Reports to the OAS General Assembly. The Rapporteurship has collected excerpts of these reports related to its activities through 2010 on its website. To view reports on the Rapporteurship’s activities in more recent years, see the Commission’s annual reports page.


The Rapporteurship may be contacted by:

  • Mail:

Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
1889 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

The Rapporteurship does not receive individual complaints or requests for precautionary measures. Such petitions and requests must be addressed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. For additional information, see the petition form or IJRC’s resources on the Inter-American human rights system.