Cultivating Harmony, Building Peace: UN Backs Launch of Ground-breaking Commission for Peace and Understanding in Chile
The new Commission will work towards the resolution of the issues faced by the Mapuche people.
O n 21 June 2023 in Santiago de Chile, President Gabriel Boric launched the Presidential Commission for Peace and Understanding in La Araucanía. The Commission is a unique institution that aims to find long-term solutions to the protracted territorial disputes between the Mapuche People and the Chilean government through mediation and dialogue.
Charting the path to peace
The nine-member Presidential Commission includes leaders of the Mapuche People, regional parliamentarians, local organization representatives, and national political figures. Three commissioners are women parliamentarians, Mapuche and non-Mapuche, who have deep roots in the region and possess exceptional knowledge of the social needs in the region.
The Commission will provide an opportunity to tackle the territorial disputes by proposing policies and solutions through dialogue and consultations.
Alfredo Moreno, a Commission member and former Minister of Social Development, recognizes the importance of resolving the current situation in La Araucania.
“The conflict in the southern part of Chile is one of the most important problems of our country,” he said. “Mapuche and non-Mapuche People are suffering violence, poverty and lack of opportunities”. The Commission provides an opportunity to listen to the views of the two groups, he added, in order to propose new ways to reach peace and understanding between Mapuche and non-Mapuche people.
For Gloria Callupe, a Commission member and head of the Indigenous Peoples Unit of the Biobío Regional Government, the Commission’s central task is to sustain open dialogue with the diverse communities and groups enmeshed in the conflict.
“Both Chilean society and the Mapuche People have been waiting decades for a solution to this long-standing disagreement,” said Callupe.
Senator for the Araucania Region Francisco Huenchumilla, another Commission member, highlighted the complexity of addressing a conflict rooted in historical transformations dating from the 19th century to the present day. He also emphasized that many of the previous attempts to address the issue had failed because “they have remained in diagnoses and proposals that have not been applied.”
Executive Secretary of the Commission Victor Ramos envisioned concrete changes concerning the land claims. The Commission’s main objective, he underlined, is to “produce a legitimate process [of] cross-cutting dialogue, which allows us to propose different mechanisms of reparation, updating current legislation and observing the different international experiences.”
As it embarks upon its work, the Commission for Peace and Understanding in Araucanía will scrutinize land claims, soliciting input from Mapuche communities and organizations while drawing upon perspectives from both national and international sources.
The UN’s role
The initiative was developed with the assistance of DPPA’s Policy and Mediation Division and an expert from DPPA’s Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisors, which provide technical advice and operational support in complex situations of conflict.
The Team assisted the Chilean Government in identifying different options for the design of the Commission, including working methods, decision-making procedures and deadlock breaking mechanisms. In doing so, it drew on previous examples of best practice and lessons learnt from similar situations in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
The UN stands ready to continue supporting the work of the Commission, as per the request of the Government of Chile. At the end of 2024, the Commission’s proposals and conclusions will be presented to the President, potentially marking a turning point for the Mapuche and non-Mapuche people in the region.