Peru Approves Prior Consultation Regulations
Peru’s government published on Tuesday regulations that govern the “Prior Consultation Law,” new legislation that is intended to improve dialogue with indigenous communities that are affected by development projects, especially mining and energy projects.
The regulations, which were published in the official newspaper El Peruano, point out that the seven-stage consultation process should take approximately 120 days. Government entities will be responsible for carrying out the consultation, which indigenous groups can choose to do in their native languages or in Spanish.
The Prior Consultation Law (Law 29785) was enacted in September last year by President Ollanta Humala during a ceremony in the jungle town of Bagua, a gesture in recognition of the protests in 2009 that led to the death of 24 policemen and 10 indigenous people in a confrontation that analysts say could have been avoided if a prior consultation policy had been in place.
The law —recognizing Peru’s signing of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 169— is intended to give indigenous communities the right to an opinion on development projects in their areas. The law is expected to help prevent the social conflicts that have increased in recent years over major mining and energy projects.
The government has said the law will improve dialogue between private investors and indigenous communities and reduce social conflicts to natural resource projects.
It is unclear whether the law will indeed resolve disputes. A number of analysts have said community opposition could actually increase with the implementation of the law, while some indigenous organizations have said they will not recognize the law.
Aidesep and Conacami, representing Amazonian indigenous groups, were unhappy with the negotiations building up to the regulations and argue that the law does not take into account the interests of their communities and that parts are unconstitutional.