Article 26 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) states that indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired, and that States shall give legal recognition and protection to these.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169 represents a consensus reached by ILO tripartite constituents on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples within the nation-States where they live and the responsibilities of governments to protect these rights. It is based on respect for the cultures and ways of life of indigenous peoples and recognizes their right to land and natural resources and to define their own priorities for development. The Convention aims at overcoming discriminatory practices affecting these peoples and enabling them to participate in decision-making that affects their lives. Therefore, the fundamental principles of consultation and participation constitute the cornerstone of the Convention. [1]

According to the report of the National Inquiry into the Land Rights of Indigenous People:

  • Orang Asli are the indigenous minority of Peninsular Malaysia. Orang Asal are natives of Sabah and Sarawak.
  • There are 28 indigenous groups making up 71.2% of the population of Sarawak.
  • 13% orang asli groups in Peninsular Malaysia numbering 178,197 (2010 estimate) or constitute 0.79% of the population of the Peninsula.
  • In Sabah, 43 ethnic groups apparently make up 61.22% of the state’s local population.

The National Inquiry conducted by SUHAKAM had developed 18 recommendations to improve the treatment of IP lands.

Malaysian courts have endorsed several judgments that essentially accord native rights to indigenous lands, territories and resources.