Peru Passes Historic Law on Indigenous Peoples

Date: 19 Oct 2011

The Government of Peru has taken a historic step for indigenous peoples by becoming the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to pass a law requiring that indigenous peoples be consulted on and give their consent to any legislative or administrative measures that directly affect them.

President Ollanta Humala enacted the law on 6 September 2011. Expected to establish a new framework for relations with indigenous peoples in Peru, it accords with obligations under International Labour Organization Convention 169.

The law marks a major break with the past in Peru, when the rights of indigenous communities were often not respected. A crisis point was reached in 2009, in Bagua in northern Peru. More than 30 people were killed protesting against executive orders to liberalize land markets, restrict their territorial rights, and allow mining and oil companies to use indigenous territories without proper consultation.

Afterward, UN Women assisted the efforts of indigenous women's leaders and organizations to advocate for the right of indigenous communities to be consulted on development programmes, policies and actions of extractive industries affecting their territories, and social and cultural lives. Women actively participated in discussions with the State to address issues linked to land, forests and other key concerns.

With the new law in place, UN Women will support implementation, the continued development of leadership capacities in women leaders from indigenous communities, and the full participation of indigenous women and youth in all aspects of decision-making.