In September, Peru finally implemented the right to free prior and informed consultation into its legal framework, making the country compliant with its 1993 ratification of ILO 169. The move has been widely applauded by international human rights advocates, and should come as no surprise to political commentators. Indeed, consultation and mining benefit redistribution were key campaign platforms of the country’s new socialist President Humala.
Despite the victory, Peruvian indigenous rights groups remain skeptical about its enactment. One needs only to look at ongoing issues in Bolivia, which has similar laws, to see that enshrining FPIC in law is only a first step. Further, the law does not seem to imply a right to veto, with the government having the final say in project development. The framework supporting the law will be developed by the existing National Institute for Development of Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvians.
Little has been heard from the extractive and investment industries at this stage, which is a little surprising given the previous governments’ refusal to enact the law, fearing it would scare off investment. While it is too soon to tell, it looks not too dissimilar to Australia’s Native Title framework, which has arguably not prevented foreign investment in mining, despite initial predictions.
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