Peruvian testimony on human rights and corporations in the extractives sector
22 September 2019
The United Nations has been sponsoring annual regional events on the issue of Business and Human Rights. The most recent, the fourth such event, occurred in CEPAL in Santiago earlier this month (3-4 September).
The panel on the perspective of the indigenous communities affected gave valuable prominence to issues of extractives and indigenous communities. Cases from Argentina, Brazil and Peru were covered. The key testimony on Peru came from Carmen Chambi, spokesperson for the 'National platform of communities affected by toxic metals' in Peru. Two participants were present from Peru's Cooperacción, Julia Cuadros and Leonidas Wiener, with close knowledge of the cases of Glencore in Espinar and MMG in Las Bambas.
Chambi's testimony concerned the impact of toxicity on the health of local inhabitants and begged for the company and the state to take their responsibility seriously. Cuadros and Wiener presented the results of the project 'empresas transnacionales y principios rectores', a collaborative regional research covering four countries. Wiener argued that in the case of Las Bambas, the fragmentation of the different environmental studies disguised the size of the true impact. He argued that in both cases the repeated use of 'states of emergency' resulted in the infringing of rights to freedom of expression, protest and free movement of people.
Cuadros argued that voluntary agreement on good practice was never going to be enough. Legal requirements for compliance were needed to deal with the situation.