In June 2011 the license to build Belo Monte—what the Brazilian government claims to be the third largest dam in the world in terms of electric power generating capacity—was granted. Since the 1970s, when the plans to build the dam were first made public, the project has encountered great opposition. Indigenous peoples and others who would adversely be affected by the construction of the Belo Monte Dam were supported by national and international NGOs that tried to halt the project through numerous strategic paths, one of which was by filing a case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Finally, in April 2011, the Commission granted an injunction in favor of the indigenous peoples of the Xingu River Basin that would be impacted by the dam, requesting the government to stop Belo Monte's construction. However, Brazil argued that these peoples would not be affected and disregarded the request. This article, by looking at indigenous peoples' substantive and procedural rights, assesses the possible adverse impacts on the indigenous peoples. Special attention is given to the profound connection indigenous peoples have with their lands and how this connection impacts on their unique rights to self-determination, property, and culture. Considering the analysis of these rights, indigenous peoples' right to be consulted in a free, prior, and informed manner is assessed. This article concludes that the adverse impacts that would result from Belo Monte's construction are evident and the State's conduct in carrying on with the project is in violation of national and international law.


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pp. 408-447
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