What ingredients in resource extraction situations create a recipe for conflict?

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What ingredients in resource extraction situations create a recipe for conflict?
  • What ingredients in resource extraction situations create a recipe for conflict?
  • Global competition for resources will be at the root of many conflicts. How can we anticipate and prevent conflicts while empowering local communities in an increasingly globalized environment?
  • What is the background of this issue (in the language of conflict resolution, the factors are referred to as “bases” for conflict).  Globalization, indigenous communities, competition for resources – how do all of these lead to a recipe for conflict?
  • Why it is so important to protect indigenous communities and their lands and cultures?
  • Why is it important to turn the tables on the power imbalance between resource extraction companies and indigenous communities?

Share your thoughts and ideas by adding your comments below.

situations that trigger conflicts in mining areas

In our experience here in the Philippines, the following situations invariably leads to conflicts:

1. When mining companies enter or expand their operations, without securing the genuine free, prior and informed consent from the legitiate leaders or representatives of indigenous peoples;

2. when elected local officials decide to grant a mining permit or mining operations in their territory, without consulting or getting the approval of the affected communities;

3. when there is imposition from the national government to allow mining in an area, where the local people are against it

 

Denial of informed consent

Jaybee,

Thank you for raising this important issue of "genuine free, prior and informed consent" right from the start. You have also raised the three primary "points of entry" where this consent is essential: 1) from the extractive industry company itself; 2) from the local government bodies responsible to their citizens; and 3) from the national government, also responsible to its citizens.

I look forward to hearing ways in which you and others have worked at these different "points of entry" to make it possible for communities to participate fully in the decisions being made.

I would also like to raise an additional "trigger" point - and that is that communities themselves are often divided regarding the entrance of such extractive industries into their community. The argument that such companies bring the benefit of new jobs and those who stand to gain from an increase in people to the area can often stand at odds with those wanting to preserve the environment, natural habitats and cultural ways of life. 

Have you found these kinds of community divisions a big issue in the Philippines?

Levels of National Government influence

Nancy--


I am curious what you (and others in this dialogue) know about the levels of "points of entry" consent given from different national government systems.  When I was in Laos for about 3 weeks, a gold mining company came into the rural village without the consent of the local decision making committee.  The gold mining company did not have proper authority to be mining, and the local citizens were upset about the presence of the mining company.  They contacted the national government, and they swiftly came into the village to remove the gold mining company.  What levels of authority do national governments have in interfering with the presence of mining companies?  What different degrees of national law tend to enforce the regulation of mining companies?  What are some specific examples of how these degrees of national law both work to protect and limit a local government's ability to make decisions?


 


Thanks!


Meg Veitenheimer, Justice and Peace Studies student at the University of St. Thomas

Mining in Guatemala

In Guatemala the main problems are:

 

  1. The government is not interested in the populations’ benefit, but in getting money for themselves. That is why the governing people are willing to sell very cheap the nation’s wealth. For example: Guatemala had a civil was for 36 years; on 1996 the Peace Accords were signed. On 1997 the president, advised by the World Bank changed the Mining Code and diminished the royalties form 6% to 1%.
  2. The communities are organized and willing to defend their rights. From 1995 to today, more than 50 Community Consultations have been made and more than 98% of the participants express their rejection to mining in their territory. The government and congress congratulate the population for participating and informing their opinion, but they say that the peoples’ will and their decision are not binding.
  3. The communities achieve international support, for example, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on November 2010 demanded Guatemalan government to stop Marlin Mine (Gold Corp, Canadian gold exploitation on indigenous territory), but nothing has been done. The IACHR calls to mind that under inter-American human rights instruments, indigenous or tribal peoples and their members have the right to full ownership of their ancestral territories and to the full enjoyment of that right.” http://www.cidh.org/comunicados/english/2010/109a-10eng.htm
  4. Very little community population is hired to work in the mining exploitation, but having 2% of the active population working in mining allows them to divide the community and destroy part of the social and cultural structure. This 2% of the population have an enormous support from the mining company and the government for misinforming and injuring people.

 

Balancing People's Needs

Leo and anyone else who wants to reply,

This sounds very similar to the oil extraction conflict in Ecuador, where the economy depends on oil exportation. The extraction degrades the Amazon and is endangering the livelihood of the indigenous populations. At the same time, the indigenous population has much international support. How would you propose balancing the various needs and incentives in a country?

The different sides and

The different sides and levels of support in Ecuador are very interesting.  Do you think that the oil companies doing the extracting may be the minority in this case since the indigenous peoples have support from the rest of the international community?  If they are indeed the minority, could this give those victim to injustice the upper hand?

Parallel issue with water mining

Leonor Hurtado wrote:

  1. Very little community population is hired to work in the mining exploitation, but having 2% of the active population working in mining allows them to divide the community and destroy part of the social and cultural structure. This 2% of the population have an enormous support from the mining company and the government for misinforming and injuring people.

I work on the issue of a water mining proposal in rural Oregon. There is a strong parrallel to what local communities face when a water bottler like Nestlé Waters North America wants to come into town to extract, bottle, and sell spring and ground water. Usually only a handful of people from the community are actually hired. In addition to getting very few jobs out of the deal these communities often face the hardship of personal wells and springs running dry or the corporation's use taking precidence over the community's needs.  The company often misleads the community about the actual damage the water extraction could/would cause.

In the past in places like Mecosta County Michigan and Fyeburg Maine, Nestle has evaded taxes and set up shop with little to no input from the impacted communitities. Something groups like Food & Water Watch have learned from this is to better track Nestlé's profiteering. We started monitoring the city council meetings of small towns throughout the northwest United States (where we knew Nestlé was interested in expanding) and that was how we were able to find out about the most recent proposal for bottling water in a small town in the Columbia River Gorge. We have found, from this campaign, that if you find out about Nestle's intentions early enough (before land has been purchased or contracts signed) that you have a far better chance of winning the battle to keep them from opening up shop.

Intrinsic corruption as a peace obstacle

Leo,


Thank you for listing Guatemala's main problems. I found it interesting that the first point you list touches the government's own selfishness. This dialogue has been helpful in providing insight into many different resource conflicts, and it seems that personal gain and corruption are common throughout all. My question for you and anyone willing to respond is how formidable is corruption? Is it something that you see humans being able to overcome or is it an intrinsic quality that will forever be an obstacle to any peace process? It seems that a progress towards justice can be running smoothly and can be completely upturned by corruption. I am interested in your opinion as I noticed more recently in this dialogue thread you touched on sharing and to paraphrase, "the quality not being entirely lost" and "a harmony with nature" and have listed selfishness in the Guatemalan government as your first of Guatemala's issues. Any commentary on this would be very interesting. Thanks!


Anna Fernandez


Justice and Peace Studies Student


University of St. Thomas

points of entry of mining companies

Meg Veitenheimer wrote:

Nancy--

I am curious what you (and others in this dialogue) know about the levels of "points of entry" consent given from different national government systems.  When I was in Laos for about 3 weeks, a gold mining company came into the rural village without the consent of the local decision making committee.  The gold mining company did not have proper authority to be mining, and the local citizens were upset about the presence of the mining company.  They contacted the national government, and they swiftly came into the village to remove the gold mining company.  What levels of authority do national governments have in interfering with the presence of mining companies?  What different degrees of national law tend to enforce the regulation of mining companies?  What are some specific examples of how these degrees of national law both work to protect and limit a local government's ability to make decisions?

 

Thanks!

Meg Veitenheimer, Justice and Peace Studies student at the University of St. Thomas

Hi Meg,

 

in the Philippines, mining permits can be secured from the government according to the type of the mine.  If its small-scale mining, then local governments can approve the permit.  If its large-scale mining, then only the national government can issue a permit, via a a type of "joint-venture" or mineral processing sharing agreement (MPSA) contract.

In both cases, regulatory requirements have to be produced and secured by the applicant (mining company).  However, the Philippines has this funny situation that we probably have the best laws int he world (national laws on indigenous peoples, protected areas, coastal resource management, decentralization law and even mining laws).  Our main problem is graft and corruption and the correct enforcement of these good laws.

on your last sentence, again using our cses here in the Philippines, the national government has attempted to impose its aggressive mining policy to local governments.  In many instances, local governments simply let themselves to be influenced.  However, there are many provinces and municipalities who stand their ground, and use specific provisions on our decentralization law, to assert their right to say no to mining.

To date, there are at least twenty-two (22) local ordinacens and local legislative resolutions that ban mining, or put a 25-year moratorium on mining applications and operations, or categorically declare that the mining application of a company is rejected.

In some of the big-ticket mining projects (so-called "priority mining projects"), some wise LGU officials have simply sat on the application documents of mining companies, effectively preventing the company from conducting exploratoin and extraction activities in natural forests, critical watersheds, irrigated agricultural lands and coral areas. 

consent and inherent challenges

An important element for a community to effectively respond to the mining sector is for the community to have a developed and articulated vision and plan for it's own development. In some cases mineral extraction might fit into this, in other cases not. Community-based land use planning, community economic development planning and other forms of building a broad consensus on the opportunites for a community should, ideally be established ahead of a company entering the picture throwing around the promises of jobs and revenues.

A sense of shared community vision has been a crucial part of successful efforts to block mining developments in Nova Scotia and British Columbia . This cohesion, can of course be tested and strained by the intrusion of  the extractives sector. A good example is the White's Point Quarry in Nova Scotia that was rejected through a joint federal and provincial review process where a massive extractives project was not a fit with the combination of fishing, agriculture, ecotourism and other renewable economic development options being actively pursued by local communities.  Of course a decent review process that actually listened to people in the affected communities was key to the process as well.

The challenges weigh heavy on affected communities  because of inherent power imbalances with the industry having access to greater economic, bureaucratic, political and technical levers of power.

Though inadequate and threatened by funding cuts, Canada's participant funding program has been very important in helping to level the playing field somewhat by allowing local community groups, regional and national NGOs to access technical support to review aspects of a proposed project.

Ramsey Hart
MiningWatch Canada

 

White Point Quarry & Review Process

After reading your post I became interested in learning more about the community involvement you mentioned in the case of White Point Quarry. I was able to read some material published by the project contractor, Bilcon of Novia Scotia, and more specifically their interpretation of the Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS document aims to identify the potential effects of the project on people, the environment and the economy and is performed on behalf of a review panel as instructed from the government. As Bilcon’s report even repeatedly suggests, the EIS document and process of review does enable the community members an opportunity to be heard and have their concerns publicly addressed. And while I recognize that the EIS review and other similar programs are inadequate in the big picture, they do represent a means by which the community can establish or regain its presence at the bargaining table. 

So when considering the effectiveness of community cohesiveness and action that you mentioned in your previous entry, has the government been successful in or even motivated to prevent the cutting of such funding? And more importantly have situations like those over White Point Quarry raised awareness and support of such review programs in the people of Canada? If so, do you feel that such support has arisen in the public sphere or has it remained isolated within communities impacted by the extractives sector directly?

In addition, are there other noteworthy situations where success for the local side was not as heavily dependent on the fact that the community was able to have and further develop renewable economic opportunities?

 

Devin Sheppard

 

Student of Justice & Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas

support for EA

Hi Devin,

Unfortunately we haven't done a great job in socialising the importance of the White's Point and other decisions where community interests were give priority. 

We've done some work through our networks and I try to highlight the cases whenever I can but I don't think it's a common knowledge in the general population. People seem to become aware of and engaged in environmental assessment processes when faced with one in their backyard and otheriseis it's a challenging thing to get onto the public agenda. We've also had a very sneaky federal governemnt that twice slipped through important changes as part of a budget bill. (not as common a practice in Canada as it is in the US).

The corporate lobby and right-wing politicians have done a good job portraying the need to cut red-tape and we are struggling to keep existing review processes in tact.

Re. other cases not dependent on sustainable/renewable alternatives... The Innu and Inuit were able to win some concessions from the Voisey's Bay mine development. They have an Impact Benefit Agreement with the company but a report I recently read suggests a lot of frustration with the IBA. In 1990 the Inuit community of Baker Lake voted down a proposed uranium mine and the project was dropped but has since re-surfaced with a new proponent, Areva. Uranium exploraiton in the Thelon watershed along the border of Northwest Territorieis and Nunavut has also been stopped due to community concerns.

RH

 

 

consent and the "right to self-determination" as strategy of IPs

Ramsey Hart wrote:

An important element for a community to effectively respond to the mining sector is for the community to have a developed and articulated vision and plan for it's own development. In some cases mineral extraction might fit into this, in other cases not. Community-based land use planning, community economic development planning and other forms of building a broad consensus on the opportunites for a community should, ideally be established ahead of a company entering the picture throwing around the promises of jobs and revenues.

A sense of shared community vision has been a crucial part of successful efforts to block mining developments in Nova Scotia and British Columbia . This cohesion, can of course be tested and strained by the intrusion of  the extractives sector. A good example is the White's Point Quarry in Nova Scotia that was rejected through a joint federal and provincial review process where a massive extractives project was not a fit with the combination of fishing, agriculture, ecotourism and other renewable economic development options being actively pursued by local communities.  Of course a decent review process that actually listened to people in the affected communities was key to the process as well.

The challenges weigh heavy on affected communities  because of inherent power imbalances with the industry having access to greater economic, bureaucratic, political and technical levers of power.

Though inadequate and threatened by funding cuts, Canada's participant funding program has been very important in helping to level the playing field somewhat by allowing local community groups, regional and national NGOs to access technical support to review aspects of a proposed project.

Ramsey Hart
MiningWatch Canada

 

 

Hi Ramsey, 

the struggles (and victories) of the Canadian IPs is a continuing source of inspiration for IPs here in the Philippines.  And its really great that Mining Watch Canada is consistently documenting and popularizing these strategies and actions.

In the Philippines, while we acknowledge that we have an excellent law for IPs (our Indigenous Peoples Rights Act), we have seen that mere presence of such a landmark policy is not an assurance that the rights of IPs will be protected and promoted.  This sentence is directly supportinve of your assertion that community empowerment is a basic ingredient in ensuring the "genuine free prior and informed consent" and community decison-making among IPs is strongly established.  

the accepted principle of "right to self-determination" is the most recent exciting (and arguably, difficult) strategy that we at the anti-mining campaign is facing.  QUesiotns have risen that seriously challenge us..  QUestions like:

1. If a indigenous community has invoked "right to self-determination" and they decided to "engage" the mining company, do we as NGOs and support groups, decide to leave the IP community on its own?

2. If an IP community has accepted mining operatoins to happen in their ancestral domains, despite the destruction and clear graft and corruption, and the communities either accept or deny these, how does the support groups "re-define" their partnerships with the community.

In another matter, in the Philippines, despite the presence of a law on IPs, the lack of capacity of the government agency tasked to enforce it has become a stumbling block to ensure that IPs adequately face the challenges of mining applications and operations.

In the process, resource conflicts in the ancestral domains escalate. 

self determination

Most of MiningWatch's work is with communities that are opposing mining - as they have a much harder time having their right to self determination respected over those that decide to engage with the industry. I  do, however, work with communities who are undecided, and supportive of responsible mining projects. I would not, however, work with a community or individuals from a community that were clearly benefiting in an illegal/corrupt/non-transparent manner.

 

Governmental Structures

In the Philippines, which specific governmental or political structures allow for mining to be conducted in an area without the consent of the local community? Are these systemic structures present in other states where this is being done? Have there been any movements in the past to campaign against this happening? If so what were the outcomes? 

Role of Powerful Countries in Resource Conflicts

Hello Jaybee. 

You mention situations related to mining conflicts.  I would like to know your opinion on how competition between powerful countries impact resource conflicts.  For example, I am studying the illegal exploitation of gold mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  An argument that I’ve come across is that if consumers from one powerful country, say the United States, boycott all products made from known exploited gold from the DRC, then another powerful country, China for example, will resume that role.  It seems to me that if one powerful country leaves on principle, another steps in.  How can this cycle be broken? I am wondering if you or any other practitioners have any thoughts on this? 

Thank you.

Please support indigenous resistance against mining in GUA

Tell the Canadian Pension Plan to vote for shareholder resolution  http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6497/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6657 Resolution asks Goldcorp to respect international law and voluntarily suspend the Marlin mine in Guatemala

The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board currently has $256 million worth of shares in Goldcorp, the company that operates the highly-contested Marlin mine in Guatemala’s western highlands. In May 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued precautionary measures urging that the mine be suspended in order to ensure the health and safety of affected communities, and as a result of the severity of alleged underlying human rights violations regarding the lack of consultation and consent from local indigenous peoples. Almost a year later, the Marlin mine continues operating; intimidation and threats persist against those who are critical or outspoken against the mine.

 

Shareholders have presented a resolution to Goldcorp asking the company to voluntarily suspend operations at its Marlin mine in compliance with the precautionary measures. The proposal comes in the wake of violent confrontations at the mine site and highlights the increasing national and international press focus on this issue.

 

Through your pension payments, Canadians help finance Goldcorp’s operations and alleged human rights abuses in the Americas.

 

Please take action today to tell the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board to vote for the shareholder resolution.

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6497/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6657
SEE (with English translation)

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Simply share

 

The discussion about mining got me thinking about how we blame most of our problems on material objects, yet it seems the real root is that no one wants to share. When did working together become so difficult?  The root of most of the world’s problems truly comes down to the want of power and the selfishness of man. Once they have power they can obtain the material objects we think we need, yet if you look at the base of each war it really is about things that we need to share and reserve or else no one can benefit, not even the rich.  Sharing one of our first lessons in life, so when did we forget it?

Katie Zeuli

University of St. Thomas

Sharing

This seems to be a theological-philosophical question with a perspective in history. Most Christians would say that the selfishness began with the Fall, when Eve and Adam pridefully took what was not theirs. Historically it seems that as people have been able to reap more, they want more. Thus, selfishness is proportional to the advancement of society.

Transparency, Accessibility, and Education

“Genuine free, prior, and informed consent” is essential for stakeholder buy in and decreasing conflict between communities and corporations. One element of tension between the local communities and corporations is the lack of transparency between the national or local governments and the mining corporations, particularly as pertains to land rights and mining contracts. The communities do not have access to the negotiations between the mining corporations and the government, and therefore do not accept the mining corporation’s or government’s legitimacy. Once mining operations begin, this generates conflict between the community and the mining corporations, as well as between the community and the government.  Possible “points of entry” to address the lack of consent might include, open hearings held by the government for locals to voice their concerns, a voting system determining the mine’s presence in the local community, or government discloser of mining contracts. However, all of these possible points of access require not just transparency from the government, but also empowering local communities through education and access to government materials. Without access or education, transparency will not decrease tension between communities and the government/corporations because consent will never be voluntarily granted. 

How do we disrupt the lack of transparency?

Thank you for your comment, Brilliant Earth!  I am interested in going a bit deeper on one particular point that you raised regarding lack of transparency:

Brilliant Earth wrote:

One element of tension between the local communities and corporations is the lack of transparency between the national or local governments and the mining corporations, particularly as pertains to land rights and mining contracts.

I suppose it is no surprise that governments and mining corporations would want to keep these "deals" between themselves so as not to give communities a specific reason to act.  It's more difficult for a community to demand transparency than it would be for the community to demand specific changes to a pending contract.  However, I wonder, are there not repercussions for, at least, the corporations for withholding this important information? For example, do corporations receive pressure from financial institutions to pay attention to Indigenous communities as conditions for receiving financing? Are there other repercussions? Please share any examples!

Finally - another question would be - are governments and corporations refusing to act in an open way because they fully recognize the special rights of Indigenous communities, and perhaps corporations use this lack of transparency as a tactic to avoid the repercussions?  Analyzing these motiviations might be helpful in determining tactics. Thanks everyone!

pressure from financial institutions

There is increasing lip service from many financial institutions about human rights however we still see problematic projects and companies with poor track records that are able to attract capital. Even public or union pension funds have a hard time implementing a responsible investing mandate as it competes with the funds primary responsibility of ensuring the maximum growth for their investments.

Leveraging the money - financial investments

Ramsey,

Thank you for raising this area of potential influence regarding extractive industries. You stated (with my emphasis included):

Ramsey Hart wrote:

There is increasing lip service from many financial institutions about human rights however we still see problematic projects and companies with poor track records that are able to attract capital. Even public or union pension funds have a hard time implementing a responsible investing mandate as it competes with the funds primary responsibility of ensuring the maximum growth for their investments.

I want to highlight a terrific New Tactics tactical notebook, Leveraging the Money: Enforcing human rights by influencing financial institutions, that shares how FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) Germany utilized this idea of responsible investing mandates to impact mining operations in Ghana.

FIAN used a "right to food" based framework and implemented the tactic of "leveraging financial institution investments from Germany" in a campaign against violations caused by large surface gold mines in Ghana. This effort required the cooperation between FIAN Germany and affected communities and local organizations in Ghana. Together with these partners, FIAN investigated the human rights problems of specific mines. They used a number of additional coordinated tactics to bring the findings to the attention of investors and the public: fact-finding mission reports, calls for urgent action among members, involving human rights bodies at the national and international level, media work, speaker tours, conferences and lobbying. The combination of these tactics provided new leverage to put pressure on the financial institutions providing the capital investment that the extractive industry needed to operate. This provided a different avenue for accountability of the impacts on affected communities.

A few key aspects for why FIAN chose to target the investment source are discussed in the tactical notebook and I will briefly list them here:

  1. Investors have influence over companies.
  2. Investment institutions tend to be more responsive than the mining companies.
  3. Investment relationships provide an opportunity to connect human rights violations in other countries to actors in [the countries where the investment or company originates].
  4. Bringing in the human rights discourse expands the tools available to the communities.

Do others have some experiences you can share for how you moved financial institutions from "lip service" to concrete action regarding responsible investing mandates when problematic projects and companies have been identified?


What are the laws?

Earlier I read about the belief that laws are often vague and sometimes not useful in defending people's right. Are there any laws that you know of that do work well in respecting decisions of communities over powerful corporations or others?

Nancy, You stated that

Nancy,

You stated that “Investors have influence over companies” in the thread above.  Is it then logical to assume that if we (the general population) wanted to have a say in international conflicts we should apply pressure upon these investors to spend money in ethical companies?  Or at least demand that these corrupt companies implement some sort of reform?  What are some reasons you believe this strategy would or wouldn’t work?

 

Emily Leaveck

Avoiding Conflict

I am curious if, in the practioners experiences, there are common specific strategies used by large mining companies to ensure their role in the community? If so are there any effective means of countering these actions at the start of this process for those areas that are against the insertion of large mining corporations? It seems that if there were some pre-emptive signs something might be able to be done to minimize conflict prior to the point where it has escalated on multiple levels. Is this even a possibility in any of the cases you've dealt with?


Rachel


University of St. Thomas

Empowerment linking the struggles

Reading the comments I find Ramsey’s observation very important and useful, reinforcing the urgent need that each community has an articulated vision and plan for their own life. I would only change the world “development” which is an occidental way of seeing life and expecting to become bigger, more powerful…more…Indigenous communities think in a different way considering themselves as part as Nature and Mother Earth, they consider to live in harmony, well being respecting all living creatures.

Katie speaks about shearing and that the key point might be that we have lost this as a life principle. I think that it is not that we individual people have lost it, but the economic system, capitalism, obliges us to look only for our own individual and family interests.

Finally, Brilliant refers to the importance of the empowerment of communities, I share this idea, and at Food First we promote this empowerment linking the struggle against extractive industries to the struggle for food sovereignty. Defend our earth and our territory to live better as community and as a person, in harmony with myself, my people and Nature.

What would be a better economic system?

There are many theories about what would be/work best. I am curious to hear what you have to say.

Not sure if you have heard about Ecuador's Mother Earth law? Here's a reading: http://truthout.org/law-mother-earth-behind-bolivias-historic-bill/13034...?

Harmony

Would you say that outer harmony begins with inner harmony or the other way around?

Promoting Mother Earth

Leonor Hurtado wrote:

I would only change the world “development” which is an occidental way of seeing life and expecting to become bigger, more powerful…more…Indigenous communities think in a different way considering themselves as part as Nature and Mother Earth, they consider to live in harmony, well being respecting all living creatures.

This seems to be an imperative paradigm shift. Likewise, Juve introduced the Law of Mother Earth in Bolivia, which as the article states, is "one of the most radical environmental bills in global history." This is a wonderful step forward, but how can it be enforced or, rather, promoted?

company tactics

Below I'll try to list some of the specific tactics used by mining companies that I've seen and ways to address them.

1. Grossly under-representing potential environmental effects and risk. This  can be dealt with through doing to independent technical reviews, communication with other communities living next to operating mines, online research of published stories of communities living with mines etc. (Note- comparisons can be tricky as many mining-related impacts can be quite site specific.)

2. Divide and conqueor - companies will find those with whom they can ally themselves as a wedge into the communities. Individuals with property rights to the area may be bought out and their support gained through these payments. Support of communites less directly affected may be used to portray "local" support for a project when those most immediately affected may not be in favour. Bribery is not unheard of. Ways to address this include the idea of having community planning ahead of the arrival of the companies, having transparent and clear decision making processes, monitoring company statements to the media and investors and correcting missleading information.

3. Hiring strategic local individuals to work as community liasons. A community-lead liason committee with autonomy from the company would be preferable to an individual responsible for being a go-between.

4. Promises of jobs and positive economic impacts. Can be addressed by Evaluating the capacity of local residents to fill positions, communicaiton with other communities affected by operating mines, full cost accounting including government subsidies and loss of local resources.

5. Persistence - some projects just won't go away. Some ways to deal with this are: maintain vigiliant watch on new developments, periodically re-affirm community vision, conduct consultas that demonstrate community position towards mining etc..

Together we are strong: the power of coalitions

Ramsey - thank you for this list of ideas for counter-tactics to address the tactics that have been used by mining companies!  This is really helpful - and if you have anymore (6, 7, 8 perhaps?) please do share them!  It is really helpful to brainstorm on these counter-tactics when the adversary's tactics are clearly listed.

I wanted to comment on your second counter-tactic on coalition-making:

Ramsey Hart wrote:

2. Divide and conqueor - companies will find those with whom they can ally themselves as a wedge into the communities. Individuals with property rights to the area may be bought out and their support gained through these payments. Support of communites less directly affected may be used to portray "local" support for a project when those most immediately affected may not be in favour. Bribery is not unheard of. Ways to address this include the idea of having community planning ahead of the arrival of the companies, having transparent and clear decision making processes, monitoring company statements to the media and investors and correcting missleading information.

This is an important point that relates to all human rights work.  New Tactics has a great notebook (available in English and Spanish) from Peru on the power of coalitions in human rights work:

Together We Are Stronger: Peru's National Coordinating Coalition on Human Rights

Developing and sustaining coalitions that represent many different organizations and perspectives can be really challenging, to say the least.  This notebook addresses those challenges and gives some great ideas on how to keep groups united on focused on the principles that are shared among them.  This unity can bring about powerful change!

Please share other examples of successful coalitions that have made positive impact by further empowering and protecting indigenous communities.  How have you addressed "divide and conqueor" tactics that have been used against you and your colleagues?

Compromise

What is the role of compromise when working to resolve a conflict surrounding resource extraction?

Specifically, in situations where the local community has strong ties to a specific resource or the resource extraction has an effect on the security and sustainability of the local community. How do you allow for compromise when every compromise potentially harms the community?

resource extraction conflicts

Dear all,

GOing through the previous comments and referring to mining, water and oil extraction and reflecting from lessons learned from forest product extraction in protected areas of Nepal, it seems to me that most of these illegal extraction are happening due to lack of institutions, sometimes single rules being applied at all cases and other times non-forcing institutions.

In Nepal's protected areas, there are numerous community-based conservation incentives for communities to abate them from illegal resource extraction from the park. However, due to single rules applied in all cases, i.e. availability of forest outside the protected areas to convert them to Buffer zone Community Forest, there are few villages which do not have any other alternative resources then extract from the park.

In one of the other villages, communities are illegal extracting resources from Government Forest, where rules are not as strict as National Park.

Whereas in the village where they have Buffer Zone Community Forest, only fewer households were involved in illegal resource extraction.

Other things that I have observed which sometimes may act as a receipe for conflict is 'ownership'. This problem was raised by that villagers where they have Buffer Zone Community Forest (BZCF). The Forest User Groups suggested that although they work on their own for their Buffer Zone Forest, they neither have rights to make any decisions or change and modify any rules. Due to this, they feel that they do not have any rights in the BZCF and the park is still the owner so eventhough they feel that it is important to sustainably extract the resources it does not help them.

How to ensure local-decision making?

While reading this, I kept thinking about what would be more effective and yet doable.

I read about mining and oil companies getting permits to extract resources from a place without "real" consent from locals. Then there was a comment about how companies divide communities based on labor. 2% of the community that works for the company, as an example given, supports the company and therefore "give" consent to the company to extract whatever resource.

There are two things that appear to be real here. One is that locals are not fully in charge of what happens in their communities (even if they have representatives who sometimes make decisions for community overall).And as with most, if not all, communities, not everyone agrees on what is best for the community. This creates conflict within a community, especially when someone can benefit more than the rest. This also gets to the fact that sometimes the perception is that a company extracting something will create jobs for a given community. The reality is that in many places, people are in need. Jobs are wanted.

The other thing that appears to be real here is that companies, today, have a lot of power. With that, companies also have a lot of consumers (us often times).

So, I ask, while locals will not achieve 100% consensus in terms of what is best (and sometimes needed) for their community, what would be more effective? Having leaders who will “truly” represent the interests of the community? Should this be based on majority rule? Should it be based on protecting the environment and the people within it? How do is local-decision making ensured? What about jobs, the sustainability of a community? The economy and well being of the region? [Of course, this continues to assume that the community is in need of outsiders to come in to pump in wealth.]

Given that oftentimes communities are in need, it is often times companies that bring in and create jobs for locals and create an economy based on the work of the company. Given this reality, that companies will be coming in to communities, would creating policies that protect the locals and the environment be better? Or would it be best to not allow any company to come in to a community?

[I just keep thinking about the book, "Everything in Its Path: Destruction of Community in the Buffalo Creek Flood" by Kai T. Erikson.]

Response + ILO Convention N° 169

Hello Katie,

Yes, that’s what I wanted to say. Thanks, I could not resume it any better! I think that a community that is not conscious about the rights given to the population is defenceless. Unfortunately that’s the case in many situations.

How can people become more aware of their rights? State institutions and/or civil society organisations as well as the media do have an important role to promote rights and create awareness.

Regarding the specific situation of indigenous communities there exists the Convention N°169 of the International Labour Organisation  (http://www.ilo.org/indigenous/Conventions/no169/lang--en/index.htm). You have probably heard about that convention before? The convention is legally binding for the countries that have signed it. One of the most important parts of the convention is that it requires consultation of indigenous peoples on any issues that affect them. Unfortunately it’s still very hard to implement and enforce the convention even in the countries that have signed. Peru for example has signed the convention and even the congress has approved a Prior Consultation Law, but the president is not willing to sign the law. Nevertheless it seems that worldwide many people and organisations consider it to be a good and important instrument.

Gregor

Compensation? Enforcement?

I agree that is important for indigenous to know and understand their rights and have a development agenda, but what if the legal or illegal mining has already begun. Gregor you said " I think that a community that is not conscious about the rights given to the population is defenceless." If a community is taken advantage of by a mining company how can they reclaim their rights and recieve what they deserve? As Katie stated in her example, indigenous communities sometimes learn about their rights after there has already been devistating effects due to the mining. Can these communities get compensation for the damages done? How would they do this? Does the Convention N°169 of the International Labour Organisation have any way of policing the countries that have agreed to it? Does this Organization investigate possible violations of this agreement or are countries simply trusted to follow it?


Matt Manion


UST Student

redressing past wrongs

Hi Matt,

If the community has access to a decent justice system there can be redress for mining that has or is taking place though damage may be irrepairable, or compensation provided insufficient.

You might be interested in the case of Whitefish Lake First Nation in Ontario that is seeking compensation for the minerals extracted in one of Canada's oldest and most profitable mining camps - the Sudbury Basin.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Sudbury+aboriginal+community+seeks+resourc...

http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1026627&archive=true

Compensation

The Indigenous people of Ecuador sued Chevron Corporation (which absorbed Texaco, the oil company responsible for the damage) for $27 billion in compensation for the environmental destruction the company had caused during extraction. The Ecuadorian court ordered Chevron to pay $8.64 billion to restore the community. Chevron said the verdict was illegitimate and unenforceable, so the company will continue to appeal. Regardless, this is a monumental step forward in punishing companies for environmental damage and providing compensation.

$5.39 billion – To restore polluted soil

$1.4 billion -_ To create a health system for the community

$800 million — To threat sick people affected by pollution

$600 million —To restore polluted sources of water

$200 million – To recover native species

$150 million –To transport water from other sites to supply community

$100 million —To create a community cultural reconstruction program

Total: $8.64 billion

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights re: extractive

I thought it might interest some of you to know of an initiative that seeks to look at human rights and security related to resource extraction.

The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) are a multistakeholder initiative, made up of governments, NGOs and companies to support the companies' respect human rights when they seek to protect and secure their people and assets. In implementation, there is ideally involvement of the local communities in the process; to ensure the security provided is protecting the company and the community - not the company from the community. 

The VPs lay out a set of principles that cover how companies do risk assessments, how they engage with public security and how they engage with private security.  The VPs lays out broadly that companies should engage with public security at all levels to discuss training (use of force, rules of engagement, human rights), equipment transfers, etc. 

For example, in Colombia, the VPs were integrated into wider security sector reform which led to the adoption of a human rights and IHL policy that includes doctrine for the public security forces engaging with the corporate sector, following the VPs. In this case, the VPs have been a resource for the government - the private sector playing a small but important role in supporting training and development of policies through an office set up under the Vice President. The Colombian government has been the first "host government" to join the following "home governments" directly in the VPs: US, UK, Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland.

The NGOs involved in the initiative are Fund for Peace, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, Pax Christi, International Alert, PACT, and Search for Common Ground. Some of these play more of a watchdog role, while the latter 3 and Fund for Peace play more of an implementing role - through civil society networks. Together, we all try to work to ensure the VPs are a credible process, both as an international initiative but also in their on-the-ground implementation, which occurs at both the national and project level.

The VPs website is www.voluntaryprinciples.org

Government Instability

The political system and political stability must be huge factors in dealing with a conflict in a certain country. For the better part of the last 50 or 60 years countries in Central America have experienced severe instability with a cycle of dictator, coup, new dictator, etc. I know some of our practitioners have worked in Central America and other places with such instability so I am wondering how these dramatic political systems have affected the work that you have done. Has it ever been a hindrance to your work and if so how?  Also I want to know from the St. Thomas students any information you have found in your research that has been a result of instable government systems. 

Thank you

Sarah Eaton University of St. Thomas student

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