September 18, 2013
In a new book released last week, Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic has charged the Chilean government with failure to guarantee its indigenous people the right to free, prior, and informed consultation. Former IHRC student Daniel Saver '12, who began working on the project during his 2L year, is one of the principal authors of the book.
The Spanish-language book, titled "No Nos Toman en Cuenta" ("They Don't Consider Us"), was jointly written and released by an international team of human rights experts in the Consorcio Norte-Sur, a partnership between Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, the Universidad Diego Portales (Chile) and the Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia).
Nearly five years after ratifying the International Labor Organization Convention 169 ("ILO 169"), Chile continues to violate the rights of its indigenous people to free, prior and informed consultation, according to the book's authors. The book provides a comprehensive review of the consultation rights of Chile's indigenous people and features in-depth case studies that document specific rights violations caused by salmon farming projects in indigenous territory in the south of the country.
According to a press release issued by Harvard's IHRC, a "Consensus Committee" comprised of government and indigenous representatives made some progress towards developing national standards for consultation procedures earlier this year. Since June, however, the negotiations have stalled. One of the key sticking points is what consultation procedures should apply to investment projects.
"The Chilean government cannot wait indefinitely to implement the right to free, prior, and informed consultation," stated Saver. "Given the recent progress made by the Consensus Committee, there is no better time than now for Chile to uphold its international obligations and establish a consultation procedure that itself is a product of adequate input from indigenous peoples."
The book's publication was launched at an event hosted by the Universidad Diego Portales, in Santiago, Chile. Saver is currently working as a Skadden Fellow at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto.