International organizations are considered to be central actors on the stage of world politics. They are not simply passive collections of rules or structures through which others act. Rather, they are considered to be active agents of global change. International organizations are often the actors to whom we defer when it comes to defining meanings, norms of good behaviour, the nature of social actors, and categories of legitimate social action in the world. The article has an interdisciplinary approach to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and its Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent countries. The approaches of international relations and international law helps explain the power the ILO exercises in national and world politics. These insights are illustrated by exploring why state agents comply with norms promoted by the regime of ILO Convention No. 169. The article briefly introduces the historical approach of the ILO to indigenous issues and the complexity related to the concept of indigenousness; the highly relevant debate when states are considering the ratification of the Convention and even when implementing it. The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) in the ILO structure is the most central body guiding the States to normative and political changes in their domestic practices. It is argued that the Committee is using its authority and power through the normative regime and its supervisory mechanisms, and therefore is also interpreting the Convention. The system as a whole has effects on traditional state sovereignty and the demands of indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination. The research questions focuses also on the compliance, implementation and effectiveness of international Conventions. The article has a Nordic approach with comparison to different approaches related to Article 1 dealing with the subjects/objects of the Convention and also different land right situations (Articles 13‐19) especially in Latin America.