The Organization of American States (OAS) will hold, on December 6 and 7 in Lima, Peru, the Meeting of Government Experts on the Management of Socio-Environmental Conflict for the countries of Central America and the Andean Region.
The purpose of the meeting is to strengthen the institutional capacities of governments in addressing socio-environmental conflicts through the exchange of information and the presentation of institutional mechanisms used to bring about solutions to these problems.
Several Andean countries but particularly Peru has been exposed to constant challenges from indigenous groups that are contrary to the licensing areas they consider homeland, to mining and forestry companies.
Former presidents Alejandro Toledo and Alan García and currently Ollanta Humala have faced armed resistance from well organized groups and there have been repeated clashes in which peasants and members of the police have been killed and injured. Some members of the riot squads were even killed with spears and arrows which give an idea of the extent of the problem and challenge for Peruvian authorities.
Does the Peruvian government go ahead with its plans to develop mining and forestry to help pull the country out of poverty, or does it yield to the resistance from indigenous peoples that have been living in those areas since the first Europeans arrived. This is a dilemma that so far Toledo and Garcia were unable to cope, but hopefully Humala has the sufficient political support and stamina to solve it peacefully.
“The meeting aims to provide a space for reflection, analysis, and debate on the dynamics of socio-environmental conflict in the participating Member States in order that mechanisms can be found for the appropriate management of these conflicts using the national experiences of participating countries and input from experts in the field” said the OAS release.
The meeting will be held over two days and will be attended by representatives of government ministries and agencies of OAS Member States responsible for addressing socio-environmental conflict. It will specifically address themes such as citizen participation in public policy formation, prior consultation, early warning systems, and dialogue as a tool for conflict management.
This initiative is held within the framework of the institutional strengthening project in mediation and dialogue of the Department of Democratic Sustainability and Special Missions of the OAS Secretariat for Political Affairs, which is funded by the government of Canada.