On Wednesday, December 15th, the Chilean House of Representatives officially created a permanent body to address Indigenous issues in the country. The committee, called the Special Commission of Indigenous Peoples, will be headed by Deputy Gonzalo Arenas (UDI), who was instrumental in its creation.
Deputy Arenas, who was unanimously selected to lead the Commission, stated that it was disappointing that it took 20 years since Chile returned to democracy to create such an institution, but now that it exists as a permanent part of the House of Representatives, it will be able to carry out its broad mandate of assessing the situation on Indigenous rights within the country and carrying out reforms to improve the situation. Reportedly, much of the Commission’s work will begin by looking at how to better implement ILO Convention 169, which has been a part of Chilean law since 2008.
Specifically, the Commission’s mandate includes:
- Analyzing and studying the current situation of how Indigenous peoples lies and development within Chilean society, and creating proposals that will help them more fully develop.
- Analyzing and studying the institutions that currently govern the rights and obligations of Indigenous peoples in Chile, and to suggest modifications that will produce more effective and fruitful participation of Indigenous peoples in social, political and economic arenas.
- Analyzing and studying the implementation and application of international agreements signed by Chile on the rights of Indigenous peoples — in particular, ILO Convention 169.
- Analyzing and studying public policies that have been implemented in Chile toward Indigenous peoples, and proposing needed improvements to make those policies more effective and have a broader impact on Indigenous peoples.