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The "Reputational Imperative" of ILO 169

posted by dawn Geography: Latin America Guatemala Topics: Mining, Indigenous

March 14, 2007

The "Reputational Imperative" of ILO 169

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, has just released a new report on the International Labour Organization's Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169. The report is meant as a guide for the private sector "in relation to C-169."

The new IFC report basically sets up a "reputational imperative" for companies to comply with ILO 169, noting that "While a private company might feel the need to clarify that the law does not apply to it, a more fruitful approach may be to try to act in a way that is consistent with the principles of the Convention on issues such as consultation, land rights, and protection of indigenous peoples' cultures." (my emphasis).

The release of this guide is directly linked to the Marlin mine, which Goldcorp is operating in San Marcos, Guatemala. The IFC financed the Marlin mine to the tune of $45 million USD, and the resistance of Indigenous people to the mine has been organized, strong and carefully documented. See page 10 of the report, which is a case study on the Marlin Project (which, by the way, is rife with conclusions that do not take into account the World Bank's own findings about opposition/failure of meaningful consultation with regards to the Marlin mine).

In a nutshell, this document suggests more voluntary standards on the part of industry, exonerates industry from the responsibility of complying directly with ILO 169, and leaves the responsibility of complying with ILO 169 completely in the hands of the state.

The report goes on to state that "it is nonetheless important that a private sector company assure itself that the host government has fulfilled, or is fulfilling, its responsibilities adequately in terms of indigenous or tribal lands and the land rights of these peoples." The private companies are responsible for policing/monitoring the local governments to ensure that Indigenous rights are protected?

Doesn't seem likely.

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