In 2011, Peru passed consulta previa, a law requiring the government to obtain permission from indigenous groups prior to implementing legal or administrative actions that might impact them. This legislation empowered the Peruvian Public Defender's Office, Defensoria del Pueblo, to represent communities in the defense of their rights in respect to government and private sector development.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which oversaw a conflict prevention, resolution, and analysis program in Peru, hoped to use the legislation as a catalyst to build the mediation capacity of Defensoria del Pueblo practitioners, enabling them to better operate at the frontier of keystone public conflicts. To this aim, UNDP requested CBI’s assistance in developing and delivering a course on consensus building in the public sector, emphasizing the role of the mediator.


CBI develops and implements a dynamic course for advancing appropriate mediation skills in a politically sensitive context.

With UNDP’s guidance, CBI practitioners created an interactive 5-day course, using role-plays, case studies, and lectures to provide a dynamic framework for advancing mediation skills. The course focused on successful dispute analysis through conflict assessment techniques, increasing the effectiveness of mediation through carefully designed engagements, and stakeholder relationship management.

CBI, with support from UNDP, presented the course both in December 2012 and September 2013 in Lima to over 60 Defensoria del Pueblo mediators from all of Peru’s provinces. During the process, CBI also negotiated the sensitive political climate by emphasizing the appropriate function of mediation within a mandated state role.


In addition to the positive reception of its training and staff, CBI also had the unique and powerful privilege to train every single individual with community facing responsibility  in the Defensoria del Pueblo, which allowed CBI to substantially help the office improve its capabilities at a formative stage.

CBI also benefited by learning from the experience, which re-emphasized several important themes:

  • When teaching a course authorized by the government, the instructor needs to be clear in discussing how mediation skills align with constrained state responsibilities.
  • The neutrality of mediators working as public defenders can present additional process complexities as they are often from, or have relationships with the communities involved with the contentious issues under discussion.
  • Interactions with disenfranchised groups and indigenous populations, which are an important part of consulta previa, present additional challenges with respect to ensuring legitimate power and representation.
  • Linking community, government, and private interests together, while challenging, is vital to strengthening community consultation.
  • Furthermore, the responsibility for cultivating these linkages must be carefully defined between the public defender’s office, other government branches, and the private sector.