UNESCO will urge Peruvian government to reconsider Camisea gas expansion plans that threaten the rights of isolated indigenous peoples and the integrity of Manu National Park
Five Indigenous People’s organisations (AIDESEP, FENAMAD, ORAU, COMARU and ORPIO) have written a letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs for food, adequate shelter and on the rights of indigenous peoples requesting that they urge the Peruvian government to cancel its imminent plans to expand oil and gas development within the Territorial Reserve in favour of the Kugapakori, Nahua, Nanti and other ethnic groups in voluntary isolation or initial contact in South East Peru. The extreme vulnerability of isolated indigenous peoples to introduced diseases and exploitation means that such development constitutes a genuine threat to their physical survival.
The government’s plans include the expansion within an existing concession (Lot 88) as well as the creation of a new lot, ‘Lot Fitzcarrald’, which not only threatens the Reserve but is also likely to overlap with Manu National Park, a UNESCO World heritage site (see: http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/extractive-industries/news/2012/07/peruvian-government-brink-expanding-oil-and-gas-developmen for more information).
The organisations have requested that the Special Rapporteurs send an Urgent Appeal to the Government of Peru in order to:
a. Seek clarification regarding the exact status of the proposed development of gas and oil exploitation and exploration within Lot 88 and ‘Lote Fitzcarrald’
b. Seek cancellation of all planned expansion within Lot 88 and any further concessions including ‘Lot Fizcarrald’ if the protection of the range of human rights engaged remain threatened and inadequately protected.
Meanwhile, UNESCO, the UN body that classifies and protects sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance as World Heritage sites have expressed similar concerns about the expansion of the Camisea project because it will affect Manu National Park, one of the jewels in its crown. An official of UNESCO has recently confirmed to the Forest Peoples Programme that imminently they will be informing the Peruvian government that ‘oil and gas exploration and exploitation is not compatible with World Heritage sites and requesting their reaction to the information they have received on Lot Fitzcarrald, which appears to include Manu NP lands, and on the possible indirect impacts on Manu from activities in Lot 88, in terms of displacement of local inhabitants’.
While expansion plans are yet to be finalized, prompt action from international institutions such as UNESCO and UN special rapporteurs are needed to avoid a human rights and environmental disaster by stopping this extractive project before it gains irreversible momentum. The Forest Peoples Programme and many others will be monitoring this case closely and will provide further international updates as news and information emerges.