Last week we highlighted the efforts being made in Puno to ensure that the principle of consulta previa (free, prior and informed consultation) with indigenous communities is respected, and how some judicial decisions seem to be moving towards its acceptance as a legal norm. This week, DAR (Derechos, Ambiente, Recursos Naturales) has issued a statement calling for the full application of consulta previa in all cases of extractive development.

DAR’s opinion piece recognises that some progress has been made, especially on cases in the Amazon jungle relating to hydrocarbons and infrastructure. Significant in this regard has been the judicial decisions respecting consulta previa in the case of the hidrovia project in Loreto region, a project that threatens seriously to disrupt livelihoods of indigenous peoples living in the Amazonia.

The right to consulta previa has been largely ignored when applied to mining concessions in the highlands. The Sociedad Nacional de Minería, Petroleo y Energía, representing mining companies, has vociferously lobbied against consulta previa as an obstacle to investment in the sector. It exercises much political heft when it comes to making government decisions.

As we recommended in our report on mining in Peru , presented two weeks ago in Lima and in Cuzco, proper consultation with communities is an absolute prerequisite to successful negotiation between these and mining companies. And not only should such consultation be previa but should take place throughout the life of a mining project.