Boston College Law Professor Zygmunt Plater (above) traveled to Chile this past spring to examine property and water rights issues pertaining to indigenous populations and recent hydro development projects. He spent three weeks in the capital city of Santiago and the southern Andean Mountain region of Los Ríos, where he led separate inter-university research initiatives.
With support from the Luksic Foundation to Boston College, as well as a grant from Patagonia, Plater delivered lectures to faculty and students at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile on property rights and environmental law. He also led several discussions comparing Chilean and U.S. property rights since Chile restructured its property laws under General Gustavo Pinochet.
As part of his second research initiative, Plater worked with local Chilean communities to support the development of hydro mechanisms and the collection of hydrological records. Water rights have become a serious issue across Chile in recent years, as new hydro technology developments have conflicted with the water rights of indigenous peoples. Several legal controversies have arisen regarding a lack of accurate data for hydro mechanisms in these cases.
Drawing from previous research experience in hydro-project litigation, Plater worked with two Ecuadorian citizens to advise indigenous communities on how to gather water flow data and better define indigenous water rights. In the future, he hopes that the continuation of hydro rights research in Chile will help to determine “procedures for supplementing gaps in domestic measures for protecting ecological integrity and indigenous water rights.”
BC Law Professor Frank Garcia, in collaboration with the BC Law & Justice in the Americas Program and the Pontifical University of Chile (PUC), also received a grant from the Luksic family for his current work on investment law reform.
With the funding, the BC Law-PUC Working Group on Trade & Investment Law Reform in April partnered with Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Investment to organize a public stakeholder session and working meeting with delegates from the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in New York City. Among items discussed was third-party funding in investment arbitration.
The Luksic Foundation was established twenty years ago to strengthen and transform secondary education in Chile through the development of technical media programs. Patagonia also provides funding to groups working to protect the environment and create positive change in their communities.