On Tuesday, September 25th, the Santiago Court of Appeals rejected a claim by the Council of the Atacameño People that sought to have indigenous peoples consulted on a new regulation that opens up state-protected areas to tourism. The Court’s decision was unanimous and stated that the regulation — as written — has caused no harm nor affected indigenous peoples to an extent that it requires consultation. On a positive note, the Court did explicitly say, however, that any concessions that affected indigenous communities were to be held to the strict standards of consultation laid out in ILO Convention 169.
This case arose out of a regulation that the Chilean government passed in 2011, but only published in April of 2012. The regulation in question lays out a process by which state-protected areas can be opened up for tourism and how tourism concessions are to be granted. The Council of the Atacameño People is an organization that has leaders from many different Atacameño communities, many of which are situated on or near protected areas. As such, the Council of the Atacameño People argued that the regulation directly affected their interests and requested that they — and other similarly situated indigenous communities — be consulted as is required under ILO Convention 169.
The Santiago Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the Council’s claim, stating that the regulation, as written, does not affect indigenous peoples in any novel way at the moment. The Court did make it clear though that indigenous consultation was required under this regulation if indigenous peoples or their lands are affected during the actual concession process.
The Council of the Atacameño People is expected to appeal the case to the Chilean Supreme Court.
A copy of the Santiago Appellate Court’s decision can be found here (in Spanish).