YATMA v. Nicaragua

In the case of YATAMA v. Nicaragua, IPLP faculty and clinic students partnered with Indigenous communities across Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast region to advocate for legal recognition of their right to meaningful political participation, consistent with their own customary forms of political organization.

The Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Asla Takanka (YATMA) party, composed primarily of Miskito Indians and other Indigenous groups from the Atlantic Coast, is the primary political organization of Indigenous peoples in Nicaragua. Changes to party registration requirements within the Electoral Law of January 2000 effectively denied members of YATMA the ability to participate in the November 2000 municipal elections. YATMA challenged the constitutionality of the new registration requirements within the Electoral Law, contending that the qualifications for being a registered party did not recognize Indigenous communities’ customary practices for electing political leaders.

After Nicaraguan domestic courts upheld the Electoral Law, YATMA appealed to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for recognition of their right to self-determination through meaningful political participation. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling in YATAMA v. Nicaragua was a landmark legal precedent, guaranteeing the right to political participation for Indigenous communities. The case established that the right to political participation for Indigenous communities enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights requires the more specific rights to:

  1. special remedial measures and procedural safeguards to ensure effective participation
  2. participate in the national political systems according to Indigenous traditional systems

In order to promote our mission to protect and promote Indigenous peoples’ human rights, IPLP provides case archives of our advocacy projects to assist legal practitioners and advocates.

Here are resources related to our petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to recognize YATMA's right to political participation.

IPLP Research




IACHR Ruling