Vanessa Cueto & the rights of indigenous peoples


Vanessa Cueto, a lawyer by training, is president of the NGO DAR in Peru.

Who are you and what do you do?

DAR is an organization created 14 years ago with the objective of promoting governance in the Peruvian Amazon focused primarily on the rights of indigenous peoples: the right to prior consultation, citizen participation, the right to territory. DAR also works to improve the environmental management of oil, hydroelectric and energy projects and mega-projects in the Amazon territory.

What is the big challenge facing your country?

Peru passed a law on prior, free and informed consultation of indigenous or ethnic peoples in 2011, recognized by ILO Convention 169. This law obliges the State to consult indigenous populations when an industrial project could affect their rights. According to Peruvian civil society organizations, the application of this law poses many problems. It is not applied for all the projects for which it should be. When it is applied, it concerns secondary elements. Indigenous populations are often insufficiently informed. And limits are placed by the state on the communities that fall within the meaning of “indigenous population” or not.

Are you carrying out a particular project?

For Vanessa, the most important thing, when we talk about power, is to count on informed citizens, capable of making a decision at the appropriate times so that their opinions weigh in negotiations with the government. And the intercultural dimension must absolutely be taken into account in decision-making processes. According to Vanessa, the Peruvian government sees access to information as a formality and not as a human right. Some declines have been noted in Peru at this level in recent years.

What world do you want to live in?

What advice would you give to a citizen who wants to take action?


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