In 1990, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights created the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to devote attention to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, who are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations, and to strengthen, promote, and systematize the Commission's own work in this area. Specifically, the Office of the Rapporteur has a mandate to carry out the following activities:
- To promote the development of the inter-American human rights system as it applies to the protection of indigenous peoples, and in particular, to advance and consolidate the system's jurisprudence on the rights of indigenous peoples. Likewise, to promote and facilitate indigenous peoples' access to the inter-American system.
- To participate in the analysis of individual petitions and requests for precautionary measures that allege violations of the rights of indigenous peoples or of their members.
- To support onsite visits to OAS member countries in order to delve more deeply into the observation of the general situation or to investigate particular situations involving indigenous peoples, as well as to participate in the preparation of the respective reports on such visits.
- To prepare thematic reports on subjects pertaining to the human rights of the indigenous peoples of the Americas—reports that contain recommendations to the OAS Member States on the adoption of measures that help to promote and guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples.
- To carry out and participate in various types of conferences, seminars, and meetings with representatives of governments, academia, civil society, and indigenous peoples, for the purpose of raising awareness and analyzing the issues that are part of its mandate.
- To collaborate on a permanent basis with the OAS Permanent Council's Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its chairmanship.