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Interpreting Law: The regulation of previous consultation in Brazil

Charlotte Schumann

The research project proposes an analysis of the negotiations around the legal regulation of prior consultation as defined in the Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Brazil. Although considered to be global norms, international conventions gain their regulating power on national or regional levels by being interpreted in these contexts, which never occurs as a mere application, but always implies processes of appropriation, re-discussion and interpretation of what a certain norm could or should mean in a practical situation and within the context of already existing norms (Wilson 1997).

Having already ratified the ILO Convention 169 in 2002, the Brazilian government started the process of regulation officially in January 2012 with the creation of an Interministerial Working Group that was set up in order to draft a law for “consulta prévia”, the main point regulated in the convention. Since then, the process of legally defining the form, scope, and object of consultation processes in Brazil has been manifesting in fierce conflicts and negotiations between various groups within the Brazilian government, civil society and international organizations.

This study aims at presenting field work material of 3 years of study in Brazil on the process of creating a national legislation that should define the procedures and definitions of the ILO Convention 169 within the Brazilian national context. It analyzes how access to the rights guaranteed in the Convention is created and denied as well as how by this process, important relationships and actor definitions are being renegotiated. The study aims at contributing to discussions in the field of Legal Anthropology as well as International Human Rights.

E-Mail: charlotte.schumann@fu-berlin.de

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Forschungszentrum Brasilien