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9 Int'l J. on Minority & Group Rts. 1 (2002)
The Mapuche-Pehuenche and the Ralco Dam on the Biobio River: The Challenge of Protecting Indigenous Land Rights

handle is hein.journals/ijmgr9 and id is 25 raw text is: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 9: 1-40, 2002.        1
,c Kluwer Law International. Printed in the Netherlands.
The Mapuche-Pehuenche and the Ralco Dam on the Biobio
River: The Challenge of Protecting Indigenous Land Rights
LORENZO NESTI*
1. Introduction
The topic dealt with in this article is the 'struggle' of many indigenous peoples
to preserve their land and environment and the need to give them a legal
instrument (or improve the existing ones) to enhance their rights to an effective
and culturally appropriate participation and to free and informed consent when
their land and existence is involved.
'Oil and gas exploration and exploitation, geothermal energy development,
mining, dam construction, logging, agriculture, ranching and other forms of
economic activity in the national interest, have adversely impacted both
indigenous peoples who have already suffered from contact and colonialism,
as well as indigenous peoples in areas long isolated by distance and
geography. Often, deveopment takes place without indigenous peoples'
consent, consultation, participation, benefit, etc.'
The case chosen to analyse these concepts is the Mapuche-Pehuenche and the
construction of dams on the Biobio River, in Chile. This case also highlights
the need of assigning and strengthening human rights responsibilities to non-
state actors, such as private companies (TNCs) and lending agencies.
The study of the case demonstrates that the protection of indigenous
peoples' rights to preserve their land and environment has to start from the
recognition of indigenous peoples' specific relation with their land. The
cultural and spiritual value that land assumes in indigenous peoples' life should
be at the basis of the recognition of indigenous peoples collective rights to
effective participation and to free and informed consent to every project or
decision affecting them.
*  The author collaborates with several organizations including: Comitato Internazionalista Arco
Iris, Rome, Italy, and the Association of Latin-American Studies 'Amerindiani', Perugia, Italy, and
TRIALOG, Vienna, Austria.
I UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997.17, para. 52.

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