The Latin America context in relation to social-environmental conflicts and the persecution of human rights defenders requires an urgent response. Different struggles, from communities, social movements, and civil society organizations have historically been organized in response to the effects of diverse development policies and projects. These groups continue to defend their territories and fundamental rights. One of the scenarios that is the most exclusionary and difficult to create a dialogue occurs with the multilateral development banks (MDBs) and international financial institutions (IFIs).
These stakeholders are key given their role in the planning of national development policies and programs, financing for projects or programs, development of technical support instruments and mechanisms, and the definition of objectives, policies, and sectoral strategies. These institutions’ actions affect most of the population, but the impacts are particularly acute for local communities and ethnic populations far from decision-making spaces.
The 90s were an ideal scenario due to the emergence of international legal instruments, such as ILO Convention 169, which protects ethnic peoples, or the 1992 Rio Convention on environmental protections and its implementation in national regulatory frameworks throughout Latin America. For example, the Political Constitution of Colombia includes these instruments in its “constitutional block.” Based on these regulatory advances, civil society organizations decided to demand greater responsibility and commitment from the institutions regarding human rights, through the creation and implementation of social and environmental safeguard policies for the projects and policies that they finance.