Monday, 9 April 2012

And another one...

No 1 drill we hate!

March appears to be ‘the’ month for Chile’s indigenous peoples. The issue surrounds indigenous peoples’ right to consultation when development projects are taking place on their lands – as stated in the International Labor Organization’s Convention 169 (ILO 169). That said, on the 30th of March the Chilean Supreme Court ordered - its second time in a month, consultation with Indigenous peoples (see previous blog here).

The case was brought by Aymara communities against Compañía Paguanta S.A. and in regards of drilling occurring on their territories. The Supreme Court unanimously held to stop the drilling until an environmental impact study is performed and the Aymara people are consulted. It stated that “the project started before proper consultation had taken place and ordered that the rights outlined in Convention 169 must be respected before the project can move forward.”

The ILC News published an interesting report regarding the issue of consultation. The article is written by two US attorneys who are working in International and Indigenous Rights law and whose residence is in Santiago de Chile for the moment. They noted that these cases of ‘development projects’ and the matter of consultation have been truly been “... in the context of applying environmental protection laws, which require citizen participation for certain types of invasive projects that present negative impacts.” For this reason, they observed that the Court ordered such consultation when it finds those impacts that involve environmental laws and then it combines environmental law with ILO 169 consultation rights.

The note continues to explain that they are two different things and emphasise that “the circumstances that trigger consultation are broader than the environmental legislation” since regardless of whether the prject can have a positive or negative impact, the aim of consultation “is to give indigenous peoples a voice in all decisions that affect them.”

Finally, they stated that putting together ‘citizen participation’ (as required by environmental law) and ‘indigenous consultation’ (required by ILO 169) is problematic since the latter has “very specific requirements, most of which are not present in the established citizen participation laws that exist on Chile’s books.”

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