ONAMIAP (the organization representing indigenous women of the Amazon and Andes) and the CNA (representing highland peasant communities) have made trenchant criticisms of the initial procedures promoted by the Culture Ministry for consultation in elaborating a national policy for indigenous peoples.

The ministry has proposed beginning with three macro-level regional workshops, one each in Lima, Cusco and Iquitos. It is the state agency responsible for promoting and defending the interests of indigenous peoples.

The organisations claim that the ministry has failed to produce the conceptual, legal and methodological frameworks required for the proposed national policy. They want workshops to be held in the central and northern regions of the country. They also say that the ministry has failed to disseminate the diagnostic report (undertaken by its specialists) which presents the technical and political arguments behind the need for a national policy.

Additionally, the organisations argue that ten years is too long a period for the policy and that the programme for its formulation is unnecessarily tight and pressured. There is no guarantee that the ministry will provide professional advice and expertise which otherwise the indigenous organisations would have to fund themselves.

Also, they say that the ministry has done little to encourage participation by the UN’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Finally, they say that the ministry has failed to include CUNARC, the national federation representing peasant self-defence organisations. CUNARC is currently the coordinator of the Indigenous Organisations Unity Pact.

The government has yet to institutionalise the free, prior and informed consultation of indigenous peoples and their representatives in state decision and policy making. This is in spite of Peru’s ratification of OIT Convention 169 25 years ago and passage of the required domestic legislation eight years back.

If the ministry is incapable of designing and implementing a smoothly functioning consultation process, there seems little hope that this right will be fully recognised and implemented by other state sectors.