Peru: economic, social and cultural rights need better protection

The Peruvian authorities must revise a number of its laws and policies to better protect economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) in the country, the ICJ says.

The call comes at the end of a one-week mission by the ICJ to gather information on and assess the impact of extractive industries on the economic, social and cultural rights of local populations, especially peasant and indigenous communities.

In particular, the ICJ is concerned at the adverse human rights impact of “Ley 30230” that aims at facilitating investment.

While investment can make an important contribution to the realization of human rights, the ICJ considers that this particular law effectively leads to a degradation of human rights by lowering social and environmental protection standards.

The ICJ does welcome the enactment of protective legislation by Peru, including that protecting and implementing the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples or regulating the use of force by the police.

However, the ICJ notes these laws are often not effectively implemented in practice.

During the mission the ICJ verified information on the increasing number of violent conflict and social protests relating to mining projects.

“A large proportion of current social conflicts in the country is taking place in areas of extractive industrial activities. With a trend to lower the protection of economic and social rights and the environment in order to facilitate investment, there is a high risk that violent conflict will increase even more,” said Sandra Ratjen, Senior Legal Adviser for ICJ’s Programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“There is a gap between Peru’s international law obligations to respect and protect human rights and the systematic threats to the enjoyment of rights, such as the right to water, to health or to housing, or to free and prior, informed consent that communities in mining areas are facing,” she added.

The ICJ is particularly concerned at the alleged unlawful use of lethal force to suppress demonstrations and social protests in mining areas such as in the recent case of Las Bambas.

The ICJ received information from various sources that in some instances the security forces had used such force in contravention of the principles of necessity and proportionality.

The ICJ urges the Peruvian authorities to take the following measures to strengthen the protection of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the country:

  • maintain and strengthen the national laws and policies protecting human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights and the environment;
  • accordingly revise legislation that obstructs the State to comply with its international human rights obligations, including those related to the realization of rights such as the right to decent work the rights to health and safe water or the right to be protected against forced evictions;
  • fully ensure the free exercise of the right to peaceful assembly and of freedom of expression of individuals and peoples, including human rights defenders.

Additional information:

The ICJ mission included: María Clara Galvis, a Colombian lawyer specialized in international human rights law and Professor at Universidad Externado de Colombia ; Rafael Uzcátegui, a Venezuelan sociologist and Coordinator General of the Venezuelan Programme of Education and Action on Human Rights (PROVEA); Sandra Ratjen, Senior Legal Adviser for ICJ’s Programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and Olivier van Bogaert, ICJ Director of Media and Communications.

The delegation met with authorities from various Peruvian Ministries, representatives from extractive companies, cooperation agencies, human rights non governmental organizations, trade unions and community-based organizations.

In December, the ICJ will release a final report containing its findings and recommendations on the situation of economic, cultural and social rights in the context of extractive activities and the rise of social conflicts in Peru.


Sandra Ratjen, Senior Legal Adviser for ICJ’s Programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, t: +55 96 48 13 628; e: sandra.ratjen(a)

Peru-ESCR mission-News-Press release-2015-SPA (full press release in PDF, Spanish)

Photo credit: Jonas Hulsens

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