Indigenous peoples and international human rights law : mining, multinational corporations and the struggles of indigenous peoples in Peru


University of British Columbia

Date Issued


Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy - PhD




This thesis examines and questions the role of international human rights law and international economic law in relation to the increasing encroachment and dispossession of Indigenous lands and territories by multinational corporations (MNCs) in the extractive industry. It also aims to explore the role of a national state’s legal framework and policies not only in validating, authorizing and embedding this process, but also in authorizing a growing and pervasive trend of persecution and criminalization of Indigenous communities who challenge and resist MNCs’ operations. The examination of the relationship between national and international law provides a terrain to grasp how international economic law and international human rights law have become part of evolving regulatory architectures of global governance aiming to validate and embed global capital accumulation. Focusing on Peru, this thesis argues that law, particularly international economic law and the legal framework developed in Peru since the 1990s, has played a prominent role in facilitating and embedding multinational corporate investment in the extractive industry, and in weakening the rights of Indigenous and peasant communities to control their land, water and resources. Peru’s legal framework and policies on extractive industries have not only validated the expansion of MNCs operations and dispossession of Indigenous lands, but have also validated a growing trend of persecution and criminalisation of Indigenous communities. While international economic law constitutes, enables and protects MNCs, international human rights law and corporate social responsibility mechanisms are linked to and help to extend the expansion and deepening of global capital accumulation by means of laws and regulations designed to facilitate and remove barriers to the power and mobility of MNCs. Notwithstanding legal and socio-economic barriers, Indigenous communities have mobilized against and resisted MNCs operations. A comparison of three conflicts involving corporate actors and local communities reveals the existence of intense social mobilization and resistance of Indigenous and peasant communities to defend their land rights, their environment and livelihood, their participation in the decision making process and fair distribution of economic benefits.

Date Available



Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International




Law, Peter A. Allard School of