Building Consensus: History and Lessons from the Mesa de Diálogo y Consenso CAO-Cajamarca, Peru

The Mesa de Diálogo y Consenso (Dialogue and Consensus Roundtable) CAO-Cajamarca was convened by the CAO to address and resolve conflicts between Yanacocha, the largest gold mine in Peru, and the surrounding communities affected by its operations. The Mesa sought consensus-based solutions under a framework of good faith, cooperation, and tolerance to conflicts and long-standing concerns regarding the social and environmental impacts of the mine. This resource consists of four separate documents; the executive summary and three monographs, all addressing separate phases of the process.

The executive summary provides a short introduction to the case and lists six sets of challenges faced and lessons learned by communities and conveners as they worked their way through complex, multiparty dialogue processes. These are the general and overarching challenges and lessons drawn from the entire roundtable process and, with that, from all three monographs. The executive summary also discusses the legagy of the Mesa experience on a local, national and international level. Through the Mesa, mechanisms were established that helped break negative patterns of communication that often lead to conflict. Like many other such processes, the Mesa brought new ideas and solutions that made positive differences—not only for the people of Cajamarca, but for people and communities affected by mining elsewhere in Peru. The conclusion stresses that the Mesa's emphasis on technical capacity and constructive participatory processes characterized by dialogue, transparency and inclusion, rather than on political identity and positioning, helped to unite its diverse membership around a common mission.


The three monographs all address a separate phase of the roundtable process. Monograph 1 traces the formation and work of the Mesa until its transition in November 2003. It concludes that the Mesa has not lived up to its full potential but, nevertheless, constituted a durable institutional structure for addressing concerns. Monograph 2 provides information on community concerns about water issues related to the Yanacocha mine, which was the topic of the collaboratively designed and implemented independent water study held between 2002 and 2004. The piece concludes that the study contributed significantly to the conflict mediation process by directly addressing community concerns about Yanacocha’s impact on local waterways and enabling local stakeholders to participate at many levels in the study. Lastly, monograph 3 addresses the period from 2004 to 2006, as the Mesa responded to the  recommendations of the independent water study, including the participatory monitoring program, as well as efforts to transition into a stand-alone entity independent of CAO support. All three monographs are centered around the challenges faced, actions taken and lessons learned by the stakeholders involved in the respective phases of the roundtable process. 

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