In 1989, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to prepare a legal instrument on the rights of "indigenous populations." In order to prepare the proposed instrument, the IACHR collected suggestions and comments from governments, indigenous organizations, intergovernmental organizations, and experts, through a series of questionnaires and national and regional meetings. More information about this process of consultation can be found in Chapter IV of the Commission's 1996 Annual Report, among other sources. (See page compiling the sections of the annual reports pertaining to the activities of the Office of the Rapporteur.)
In February 1997, the Commission approved the Proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In March 1997, the IACHR turned the draft declaration over to the OAS General Assembly, which in June of that same year instructed the Permanent Council to work on the draft. In June 1999, the General Assembly decided to establish a Working Group of the Permanent Council to continue consideration of the draft.
In 2000, the IACHR approved a report entitled The Human Rights Situation of the Indigenous People in the Americas.
Since the Working Group was established, special meetings have been held with the participation of representatives of indigenous peoples. Beginning with the special meeting held in April 2001, the participation of indigenous representatives was strengthened and considered necessary for the process of discussion on the draft declaration to move forward. This was reflected in General Assembly Resolution No. 1780, dated June 5, 2001, which recommended that the Permanent Council continue "pursuing mechanisms for the accreditation and the appropriate means of participation in its deliberations of representatives of indigenous peoples so that their observations and suggestions may be taken into account."
Since 2000, the IACHR, through its specialists in the Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, has advised the respective chairpersons of the Working Group regarding the process of discussion of the draft declaration and the preparation of the special meetings that have taken place. It has also contributed to the preparation by the chairmanship of the Working Group of working documents which seek to consolidate the different text proposals made to the draft declaration to date, whether by delegations of the States, representatives of indigenous peoples, specialized bodies of the OAS, or independent experts.
All information from the Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and on the process itself, can be found on a website of the Department of International Law devoted exclusively to the topic.