MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru's Congress passes Indigenous Peoples' mining consultation law

Published by MAC on 2011-08-30
Source: Reuters, statement

Peru's Congress has taken an important step toward incorporating  the International Labor Organisation's convention on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (ILO 169) into law, since the convention was ratified in 1994.

Although broadly welcomed as an "historic moment" (the enabling act was passed unanimously) a key question has yet to be answered: will communities be able to enforce the principle of "Free, Prior Informed Consent" (FPIC) when confronted with proposals they reject?

Is it likely that mining companies will respect not just "how" - but also "if"-  there should be operations on indigenous and campesino lands and in their territories?.

Already some in Peru's media have leaped to assure members of Peru's business sector -  especially mining and oil companies - that the new law will not grant a right to veto projects.


Peru Congress passes consultation law unanimously


24 August 2011

LIMA - Peru's Congress unanimously approved a bill on Tuesday that could quell social conflicts in rural provinces by requiring companies to consult with native communities before building mines or drilling for oil.

President Ollanta Humala will have 15 days to sign the so-called consultation law, which would put Peru in compliance with a U.N. convention on indigenous peoples it signed in 1989. Humala has said he supports consultation.

"The purpose of consultation is to reach an agreement between the government and indigenous or native peoples regarding measures that directly affect them," the text of the approved bill reads.

Former President Alan Garcia vetoed a similar bill that the previous Congress passed in May 2010. He said it gave rural communities the right to forfeit investment needed for development and economic growth.

Garcia pushed for free trade agreements and courted foreign investors, helping Peru achieve one of the world's fastest rates of economic growth. But he was criticized for not spreading enough of Peru's growing wealth to the rural provinces and failing to quell nagging social unrest.

Peru's ombudsman has said the consultation law could help prevent social conflicts that threaten the $50 billion in foreign investment destined for Peru in the next decade. Some 200 towns have protested against new projects, mostly in areas that have not seen the benefits of the 10-year economic boom.

When protesters clash with police in Peru, the conflicts can turn deadly. They have left an estimated 100 people dead in the past three and a half years.

Indigenous communities say energy extraction often contaminates their water sources and does not belong on their ancestral lands. They have long advocated for the consultation law and many of them voted for Humala.

"This has been a historical show of patriotism and the people of the Amazon, the Andes and Afro-Peruvians will be very thankful," said Eduardo Nayap, a lawmaker from Humala's Gana Peru party who represents the Amazonas region.

Peru approves ‘historic' indigneous rights law

Survival International release

24 August 2011

On Tuesday night, Peru's Congress unanimously approved a ‘historic' new law that guarantees indigenous people's right to free, prior and informed consent to any projects affecting them and their lands.

President Ollanta Humala says he supports consultation, and now has 15 days to sign the bill into law. It is a significant step away from the policies of former Peruvian President Alan Garcia, who vetoed a similar bill.

The ‘Prior Consultation Law' complies with commitments set out in ILO Convention 169, the only international law designed to protect tribal people's rights.

Peru ratified the ILO 169 in 1993 but has consistently failed to uphold it, causing widespread unrest amongst the country's indigenous population.

Amazon Indian organization AIDESEP has welcomed the government's decision, but warned this is just the first step to ensure indigenous rights are guaranteed.

‘We mustn't fall into false triumphalism. It is now up to the government to form a national indigenous organization... that will uphold strict compliance with this new law.'

Under Alan Garcia, Peruvian Indians experienced unprecedented pressures on their lands as a result of his aggressive development policies.

More than 70% of the Amazon is now divided into oil and gas concessions often without the consent of the indigenous inhabitants.

Survival International's Director, Stephen Corry, said ‘There are two factors at stake here. Firstly, Humala should support the decision of Congress to approve the Prior Consultation Law. Secondly, the Peruvian Government must commit to upholding it.'

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