Sep 23, 2011

UNPO UN Report Outlines Economic, Social And Cultural Rights Violations Faced By The Mapuche In Argentina

UNPO Alternative Report written in collaboration with the Mapuche community in Europe to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights highlights marginalization of the Mapuche in Argentina.


UNPO has submitted an Alternative Report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) ahead of Argentina’s review at the 47th Session in November 2011.  This report to the Treaty Body monitoring committee underlines the difficulties faced by the Mapuche as a result of the denial of their right to self-determination and insufficient assistance from the state resulting from racial discrimination.

The Mapuche in Argentina have had their historic lands stolen from them through historic military campaigns and discriminatory state policies favoring corporations and unfettered resource extraction.  Despite their recognition as an indigenous people in Argentina, the Mapuche face social and economic marginalization and their identity and culture have suffered from state assimilation policies as well.  The Mapuche communities concentrated in Río Negro and Neuquén disproportionately experience poverty, lack access to infrastructure and services, such as hospitals, and have higher than average rates of illiteracy, chronic disease and unemployment. 

Argentina has agreed to temporarily halt evictions of Mapuche from contested lands under Law 26.260 which was passed by the Argentinean Parliament in 2006.  Under this law, no evictions would take place for four years while courts review ownership.  However, the report cites multiple instances of evictions continuing, despite this law.   Furthermore, these evictions had been accompanied by police brutality.

Due to the valuable natural resources available on traditional Mapuche lands, Mapuche communities have often been forcefully relocated into isolated and underdeveloped areas where they lack access to state institutions and cannot maintain a sustainable standard of living.  Due to resource extraction by corporations, often conducted in violation of national environmental legislation, Mapuche communities face health risks from contaminants. 

UNPO’s report proposes a series of recommendations and questions to be posited to Argentina’s delegation at the 47th Session of  the CESCR.  They include:

-enforcing indigenous rights as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Labour Organization Convention 169

-improving infrastructure in areas populated by Mapuche communities to assist their sustainable growth and development in an environmentally sensitive manner

-addressing the lack of both national laws and international agreements that protect indigenous land rights against encroachment by business and other interests

-enforcing existing national legislation and international covenants which protect the Mapuche’s right to free expression of culture and religion by allowing unrestricted land access

The full report can be downloaded here.  Further information related to the review at the 47th session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights can be found here.