Prior consultation reduced to meaningless bureaucratic formality


A campaign has been launched on Facebook and Twitter aiming to expose the abuse of prior consultation procedures.

The NGOs Oxfam and Cooperacción are speaking out vigorously, citing the findings of a study of eleven consultations in the mining and oil sectors. The full title of the campaign is 'Consult me for Real' (‘consúltame de verdad’). Consultation has been a requirement for companies in Peru for six years, responding to the provisions contained in the ILO's Convention 169.

Ana Leiva, director of Cooperacción, says that companies are no longer worried by the requirement to consult, because the practice has just become a formality. 

Gladis Vila, an indigenous leader in Huancavelica, says that consultation has become simply a bit of bureaucracy and has lost the meaning afforded to it in Convention 169. In that agreement, she says, consultation was intended to be a way of achieving “concrete accords” with true participation of all.

The case studies reveal how consultation is given totally inadequate time, with the important stages of information-giving and evaluation often occurring in a single day; clearly a way of making the process a formality. Also, the consultations typically occur so late in the process that, in practice, nothing can be modified as a result since all the important decisions have already been taken. For futher details see Cooperacion

Prior consultation has been welcomed by all concerned with human rights as an important tool to enable people without voice to participate in major decisions that affect their livelihoods and wellbeing. It will be a disaster if the tool is allowed to be emasculated in this manner. The campaign is thus very welcome.

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