Decentralization/Federalism: Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace

Agreement on identity and rights of indigenous peoples (Mexico City, 31 March 1995)

IV. Civil, Political, Social and Economic Rights

A. Constitutional framework

The Government of Guatemala undertakes to promote a reform of the
Constitution in order to define and characterize the Guatemalan nation as being of national unity, multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual.

B. Local indigenous communities and authorities

1. Recognition is accorded to the importance the Maya and other indigenous communities have had and continue to have in the political, economic, social, cultural and spiritual spheres. Their cohesion and dynamism have enabled the Maya, Garifuna and Xinca peoples to preserve and develop their culture and way of life, despite the discrimination to which they have been subjected.

2. Bearing in mind the constitutional commitment of the State to recognize, respect and promote these forms of organization which are peculiar to the indigenous communities, recognition is accorded to the role of the community authorities that were constituted in accordance with the customary norms of the communities, in the management of their affairs.

3. Recognizing the role of the communities, within the framework of municipal autonomy, in exercising the right of indigenous peoples to determine their own development priorities, particularly in the fields of education, health, culture and the infrastructure, the Government undertakes to strengthen the capacity of such communities in this area.

4. To this end, and in order to promote the participation of the indigenous communities in the decision-making process in all matters which affect them the Government shall promote a reform of the Municipal Code.

5. That reform shall be promoted in accordance with the conclusions adopted by the commission on reform and participation, established in section D, paragraph 4, of this part in the following areas, within the framework of municipal autonomy and the legal provisions granting indigenous communities the right to manage their internal affairs in accordance with their customary norms, as mentioned in section E, paragraph 3, of this part:

(a) Definition of the status and legal capacity of indigenous communities and their authorities constituted in accordance with traditional norms;

(b) Definition of the modalities concerning respect for customary law and all matters related to the habitat in the discharge of municipal functions, taking into consideration, where necessary, the situation of linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversity of the municipalities;

(c) Definition of the modalities for promoting the equitable distribution of government expenditure, including the percentage of the State's general budget of regular revenue which is transferred annually to the municipalities, among the communities, indigenous or non-indigenous, that make up the municipality, strengthening the capacity of those communities to manage resources and to be the instruments of their own development; and

(d) Definition of the modalities for communities to join together in the defence of their rights and interests and the conclusion of agreements for the design and implementation of communal and regional development projects.

Implementation History

1997

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

1998

Minimum Implementation

The process of decentralization of some government services increased, especially in the health and education sectors.1

  • 1. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/53/421), September 28, 1998.
1999

Intermediate Implementation

The referendum for the full package of constitutional amendments occurred on 16 May 1999. Voters denied the proposed amendments related to autonomous governance in indigenous regions, along with all other proposed amendments.2

  • 2. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/54/526), November 11, 1999.
2000

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2001

Intermediate Implementation

The President of the Republic established the Presidential Commissioner for the Modernization and Decentralization of the State, which took over all decentralization efforts. Prior efforts were poorly coordinated and unevenly enacted.3

  • 3. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/55/973), June 1, 2001.
2002

Intermediate Implementation

Congress passed the General Decentralization Act with Legislative Decree No. 14-2002.4

  • 4. “Information Received from Governments: Guatemala,” Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, United Nations Economic and Social Council (E/C.19/2010/12/Add.8), March 3, 2010.
2003

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2004

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2005

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2006

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.