Campaign picks up on prior consultation

24 January 2016

The important topic of Prior Consultation (consulta previa) of indigenous peoples has been usefully brought into the foreground of the electoral debate this last week. Consulta previa is the Peruvian version of the requirement for ‘prior, full and informed consent’ demanded by ILO Convention 169 in the case of any project which threatens the livelihood, land and/or culture of an indigenous group. Convention 169 (to which Peru is signatory) imposes an obligation on the government to consult, and a further obligation, once an agreement is reached, on the government to implement its part of the agreement.

The candidate for Todos por el Perú, Julio Guzmán, declared on 17 January that his party would not maintain the law; twelve hours later he was forced to say the opposite, following sharp attacks, particularly from AIDESEP (Asociaciόn Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana). The resulting debate in the press has usefully revealed the deficiencies in the implementation of the law (chiefly, as we have often underlined, the narrow definition to date of what is meant by ‘indigenous’ i.e. excluding communities living in the highlands). There is clearly potential to expand the use of consulta previa and some consultations to this end have been fruitful. The whole system is important to maintain and strengthen.

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