The Human Rights Institute was legally established in 2009, as an independent organization that stands for the protection, education and promotion of the human rights in Chile. With Headquarters in Santiago, the institute has been expanding geographically across our country since its creation in response to the need for its presence.
This year the institute was to open branches in 3 new locations. We were invited by the Civil Service to perform the search for the 3 “Director Regional” or Human Rights Institute Regional Directors, for each of the new branches. The new offices where located in the Atacama Region (north), Maule Region (central) and De Los Ríos Region (south), each with a different challenge and local issues to be addressed.
Challenges in Atacama region relate to environmental problems due to water scarcity, but mainly associated with environmental pollution coming from the large mining industry. This has long been producing conflicts with little local communities, mostly indigenous inhabitants, whose economy is based on agriculture. Another issue is the growing flow of immigration the region is receiving from other Latin American countries.
As for Central Chile, the population of the Maule area also faces socio-environmental problems, mainly related to conservation and preservation of natural resources, threatened by permanent environmental contamination, due to the pulp industry and thermoelectric projects affecting local indigenous communities among others, in which the State (Government) has yet to ccomplish/fulfill international treaties & conventions on the matter.
In the South, in Los Ríos Region, population confronts social and political problems, affecting the main economic activities of the region (fishing and forestry) and, together with the historical conflict with the Mapuche people (indigenous inhabitants), whose demands of “ancient land” and territorial autonomy, presents an outmost challenging scenario.
We focused our search on organizations and individuals who were active in the field and found that, even though there were people who had ample human rights related experience, they lacked any managerial skills or had little experience in this area.
Our challenge was to find professionals who would not only be technically qualified but also committed and experienced in the human rights field. Also, candidates should have enough managing experience to direct a team and seniority to be seen as part of the “local authorities” in each region. The Profile given by our client, Civil Service, was ample enough to consider any career or educational background, with the only restriction of having a human rights related experience.
We decided to focus on organizations/NGO ́s and even companies that were working on solving environmental problems, communities&companies relations, migrants, etc., that were the issues that need to be confronted by each new Director in their regions.We then were able to find open-minded professionals with backgrounds as different as lawyers, engineers, social workers and political scientists, who had successfully worked in the human rights field in an open and across the table perspective. The all had in common passion and respect for the protection, education and promotion of human rights. Getting to know such highly committed professionals and passionate people was an extraordinary experience.
As a result two new “Directores Regionales” were appointed by the Human Rights Institute: a Lawyer, with post studies in the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Université de Genève, Swiss, with ample international experience who was Member of the National Commission of International Humanitarian Law, a permanent body coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Chile for the Atacama region; and a Social Worker with more than thirteen years of community work experience in complex indigenous and non-indigenous contexts in various territories of our country for the Maule region.
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