Honduras: 30 Years of ILO Convention 169 and the Destruction of Prior Consultation by the State

On June 27, 1989, the International Labor Organization (ILO) approved the text of Convention 169, becoming a legal instrument for the protection of indigenous peoples, who to this day continue to resist colonial attacks.

Honduras signed the agreement in 1994, which created countless illusions among the country’s indigenous peoples, who hoped that prior, free and informed consultation would be implemented, and thus be able to contain the avalanche of extractive projects that would be imposed in the name of prevailing neoliberalism.

According to the ILO, “When ratifying a convention, a member state commits itself to adapt national legislation and to develop pertinent actions in accordance with the provisions contained in the convention. Since the 1990s, the State has tried to adapt the Convention to national legislation by issuing secondary laws.

It was not until 2012, within the framework of the EU-Honduras Voluntary Association Agreement, AVAFLEGT and the ONUREDD project, that EU-Honduras Voluntary Association Agreement, AVAFLEGT, that the state showed interest in creating a consultation mechanism. Both the indigenous organizations and the State itself prepared their consultation drafts, which in the end were scorned due to the imposition by UNDP of a new draft, copied from Peru’s current Consultation Law.

In spite of the denunciations filed because of the manipulation carried out by the State through DINAFROH and the UNDP, both bodies carried out a series of workshops on the draft law developed by the consultant Ivan Lanegra.

Notwithstanding the observations presented by the United Nations Rapporteur. Vicky Tauli-Copus and the recommendations of the Committee for the Eradication of Racism and Xenophobia (CERD), organizations that expressed concern at the evident distortion in relation to the consultation process, the state intends to approve a law that clearly threatens the lives of the country’s indigenous peoples.

Convention 169 was supposed to have two basic postulates: “the right of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own cultures, ways of life and institutions, and their right to participate effectively in the decisions that are made for them by the State”. These two pillars are totally unknown to both the State of Honduras and some international organizations that see in prior consultation, a mere procedure to legitimize the delivery of natural resources to both national and international investors.

OFRANEH, as part of the Observatory of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (ODIPINH) we declare ourselves before the cynicism on the part of some politicians who have never legislated in favour of indigenous peoples assuming the role of instigators of the approval of the text in question which will have enormous consequences in terms of human rights, in a country where defending the territory has become a crime that even leads to death, such as the recent assassination of our companion president of the Patronato de Masca, Mirna Suazo.

La Ceiba on the 13th day of September 2019

Honduran Black Fraternal Organization, OFRANEH