What new opportunities and new challenges do these human rights defenders face?

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What new opportunities and new challenges do these human rights defenders face?
  • How might social media and other technology-based organizing tactics be employed?
  • How does global consumer activism advance or confuse advocacy in communities?
  • What inducements – persuasion, rewards, coercion – are unique to resource-based conflicts?
  • What are examples/models of positive resource extraction that create win/win situations for communities and extraction companies?
  • What are the next steps?

Share your thoughts and ideas by adding your comments below.

In continuation to this

In continuation to this thread, I am curious what practitioners have experienced as far as any collaboration between extraction companies and effected communities.  Is there regularly any actual interaction between the decision makers of extraction companies and those who are directly affected? 


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

From my research I found that

From my research I found that social media and technology-based organizing tactics can greatly impact a resource extraction conflict for the better. More specifically, the proper use of technology can empower those who may feel isolated, socially excluded, or lack participation in the conflict. I was wondering for those practitioners abroad, what is your resource-based conflict? What technology is available to you? Perhaps radio, newspaper, internet, or mobile phones to reach out to those who may be geographically isolated? Do you use technology to expand awareness of the situation? If so, does it clash with your traditions?

Thank you!

Alicia Traut

University of St. Thomas Student

What technology - based organizing tactics were helpful?

amtraut wrote:

From my research I found that social media and technology-based organizing tactics can greatly impact a resource extraction conflict for the better. More specifically, the proper use of technology can empower those who may feel isolated, socially excluded, or lack participation in the conflict.

Alicia,

Please share with us an example of what you found in thereseach you mentioned where social media and technology-based organizing tactics had that positive impact and/or empowered those involved in the process. Thanks!

enterprise and community interests are in contradiction

In my experience in Guatemala and shearing information with partners in Central America, we haven’t had any good experience. We think that it is because the interests of the extracting enterprises and the interests of the communities are in contradiction. The enterprises look for their own wealth benefit regardless the damage they produce to the environment and the population; while the communities look their wellbeing in harmony with their environment.

Leonor, I studied abroad in

Leonor,

I studied abroad in Guatemala and it has a dear place in my heart.  Could you tell me more about specific enteprises that you have experienced there?  For my class I researched the Chiquita Company and its presence in the banana industry within Guatemala; have you encountered any conflicts involving the Chiquita Company?

 

Emily Leaveck

Examples

Nancy,

I found a couple of great examples that I have not personally witnessed as positively impacting/empowering those involved but I have found various sites that claim of doing so. Some include:

The Association of Nepalese Indigenous Journalists (ANIJ) a forum for Indigenous journalists. It was established in 1999 to magnify the voice of Indigenous peoples in media and raise awareness about their human rights. It arranges fellowships for Indigenous journalists and produces a monthly wall newspaper for semi-literate Indigenous peoples. It also assists Indigenous peoples in the establishment of community radios and conducts media monitoring and training for Indigenous leaders.


Kothmale Community Radio in Sri Lanka provides its audience with mediated access to the internet. The broadcasters receive information requests from listeners, search the internet and make the results available through a radio broadcast in local language, by mail or by placing them in the radio station’s open access resource center.(www.kothmale.org)

You can find more information at:http://www.undp.org/oslocentre/docs09/Matthias_Meier_ALL.pdf

Do you think social media and technology should be implemented to a greater extent? If so, who do you think should be responsible for making it happen? Should different means of technology be used in different locations?

Thank you!

Alicia Traut

University of St. Thomas

Connecting Consumers to Local Communities

As a socially responsible jewelry retailer, we have found that with an increased number of social media outlets and blogs, news transfer has become significantly faster and local news sources more accessible. For example, we follow diamond mining news in Zimbabwe, and more specifically, the human rights abuses that have resulted from the discovery of new diamond deposits in the Marange diamond fields. We read about Farai Maguwu, a human rights activist who was imprisoned by the government of Zimbabwe, through various blog and news publications. Soon after, we were e-mailing with him to discuss the challenges in the Marange diamond fields. We were able as a retailer in the US to connect with a human rights activist on the ground. As a result we are able to help Farai and place pressure on other jewelry retailers to stop selling Zimbabwean diamonds. New media can allow local communities to be in contact with consumers and socially minded companies, however the key component is the lack of access to technology in many of these communities.  

Brilliant Earth, Thank you

Brilliant Earth,

Thank you for sharing your story and for being socially responsible jewelry retailer.  It must be difficult to determine whether human rights abuses are taking place and to take action on notifying others.  How do you think technology could be more accessible to these communities? What modes of technology do think would be most useful/ideal/possible? Have you come across any other locations where you have found that human rights abuses are occurring over diamond extraction? What is your process on determining whether a diamond field is safe?

Thank you again,

Alicia Traut

University of St. Thomas

 

Factors in the Diamond Inustry

Brilliant Earth,


I am very excited about your input to this dialogue! I am a student at the University of St. Thomas and this semester I have been looking into resource conflicts from a Justice and Peace Studies, International Law, and Earth Sciences perspective as a cumulative term project. I have been very interested in the diamond industry. I think that the potential the industry holds for many areas is something that if harnessed, could resolve many injustices. As I continue to research conflict diamonds, I am learning that there are many powerful actors, not just state and civilian in this conflict. As a retailer, you play a significant role in the industry as well and by the sound of your post, you have done much to aid in the conflict. What are your biggest challenges as a commercial company that deals with a conflictive industry? As a non-state commercial branch, what or who pose the largest obstacles to you  as you strive for the balance between your business goals and your responsibility to justice? What, if any, seems to be the most effective strategy in overcoming them and maintaining that balance? Thank you.


Anna Fernandez


University of St. Thomas

Conflict Minerals

The same challenges that are faced in the diamond industry are now a concern for the technology industry. I've been doing research on conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where large quantities of the Tungsten, Tantalum, and Tin that is mined in the country goes towards funding armed militia groups that have taken over much of the Kivu mining region. These minerals are used to craft micro-chips as well as other vital pieces that go into making things such as cell phones, computers, DVD players etc. Since these products are mostly for entertainment purposes the consumer market plays a large role in this conflict. Recently the United Nations has produced guidelines for due diligence which are now reflected in a bill passed in the United States holding companies responsible for tracing the origins of their raw materials. This from my understanding is similar to the Kimberly Process. I am interested to find out if you think or know of  other ways that corporations can work with the government or be influenced by the government to responsibly purchase their raw materials? What further sort of outreach to the consumer community has been effective in the past to encourage gaining the knowledge of where and who was involved in the production of the products that they are interested in purchasing?

Consumer influence - examples from the fair trade movement

Thanks rcarlson for your question:

rcarlson wrote:

I am interested to find out if you think or know of other ways that corporations can work with the government or be influenced by the government to responsibly purchase their raw materials? What further sort of outreach to the consumer community has been effective in the past to encourage gaining the knowledge of where and who was involved in the production of the products that they are interested in purchasing?

Regarding governments, business and civil society - a post regading Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights re: extractive is an example worth exploring further.

In addition - your question regarding the consumer community and what has been effective in the past. It is very useful and helpful to look to other human rights issue areas to see how such outreach to consumers has been effective in changing industries and policies (e.g., such as Rugmark regarding child labor practices).

Another such area has already been mentioned in this dialogue regarding fair trade. You can view a fair trade example regarding "Developing international monitoring and labelling coalitions" in the New Tactics database. Just recently, Fairtrade International just announced its Fairtrade/Fairmined certified gold gives new hope to miners. This highlights twenty businesses in the UK and one in Canada that will be the first to stock jewellery made of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold.

The anti-aparthied divestment movement began to have great impact when students began demanding that their educational institutions divest from South African businesses and products.

How might you, as students participating in this dialogue, think of using your leverage power on this issue of resource extraction?

Sourcing Responsible Products

There are many initiatives and discussions regarding responsible sourcing, production, and final products.  The organization I work for (CSP2) has engaged in two that may provide examples and ideas.

The Madison Dialogue (http://www.madisondialogue.org/) evolved from a multi-sector discussion about ways that companies and organizations can promote responsible production.  Parts of it evolved into the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA; http://www.responsiblemining.net/) which seeks to develop and establish a voluntary mining system to independently verify compliance with environmental, human rights and social standards for mining operations.  Both seek to build on and/or incorporate ongoing successes, such as the Kimberly Proces.  These have sought to represent and include the major sectors:  mining; jewelry retail; labor; NGO/Civil Society; and community groups. 

I will not speak to their successes or failures, but rather suggest they are good resources to examine, learn from, and/or build on (or maybe participate in).

A theme that seems to govern many such efforts is creating and maintaining public awareness and demand.  Low price often speaks loudly to consumers -- making it critical that an informed public understand the Real Costs from less-than responsibly sourced goods (and the real benefits of responsibe sourcing).

Speaking loudly to consumers

This may be a conceit on my part as an educator, but I agree with Stu Levitt when he said,

A theme that seems to govern many such efforts is creating and maintaining public awareness and demand

When we visit a coffee shop to ask for fair trade coffee, or a jeweler to ask for a conflict-free diamond, we educate and create consumer pressure on the retailers of those commodities. Each one of us alone may have minimal impact, but groups of us in the habit of asking for such value-oriented products begin to shape our consumer culture. Campaigns that coordinate consumer messages aggregate and focus that impact. And if we can educate with a concise message that salespeople and managers pass up through industry bureaucracy, our message may meet other policy, watchdog, and shareholder pressures coming down from above.

Some campaigns develop symbolic or culturally coded messages that make a significant impression extending beyond just facts. George Lakoff provides an illustration in the title of his 2004 book, "Don't Think of an Elephant" in which he analyzes the success of message-crafting by the US conservative movement. A recent guest in our Conflict Resolution class - Julian Lazalde of Catholic Relief Services - crafted a poignant symbolic codification for conflict minerals from Central Africa when he said, "Each of our cell phones contain a single drop of blood."

Does anyone have other examples of symbolic images or well-crafted messages that speak loudly to consumers?

communication technologies

The interenet and newer social media can certainly help in keep people informed about conflicts surrounding resource extraction. This helps, to a degree, but it would be naieve to think that access to informaiton alone will tip the balance of power.

We need to hold companies accountable for their actions through meaningful regulations that apply sanctions against offenders and provide remedy for the offeded.

Regarding "good examples" there are things some companies are doing to improve the situation. Revenue sharing, training and education programs to increase access to employment and independent community monitoring agencies are three important expamles. In some jurisdictions in Canada the signing of an Impact Benefit Agreement is mandatory for a mine to be given its operating permits. Unfortunately in much of the country it's considered optional. Regardless of it being required or optional the negotiating power is often tipped to the favour of the company.

Ramsey Hart
MiningWatch Canada

 

 

 

 

meaningful regulations and/or incentives

In response to Ramsey Hart's post:

I agree that internet/social media can help strengthen a network of people together to organize power, but there definitely has to be more to hold companies accountable for their actipons.  I spent some time in El Salvador last spring for a class on globalization and social movements, and we learned about the justice issues surrounding a mining company Pacific Rim in the town of Cabañas, El Salvador. 

Individuals in the community had organized in opposition of the presence of this company, and a number of the main organizers were systematically murdered because of their activism.  Despite the harsh reality that the mining company has had in the community, their website somehow makes this claim on the front of their website:

"Pacific Rim is an environmentally and socially responsible exploration company focused exclusively on high grade, environmentally clean gold deposits in the Americas."

How can we hold mining companies accountable for this?  It is clear that these claims hold a much different reality for those who are actually effected by Pacific Rim.  I am curious if anyone knows of any certification that is available for companies to acquire to ensure that they strive to respect a communities concerns.  Similarly to fair trade certification, is there anything avaliable that provides an incentive for companies to make further strides and efforts to increase communication with those who are directly effected by the mining?

What does accountability look like?

Often times we see that policies are in place and yet, when violated, it is easy to not do a thing about it or sanction a company, a government, etc. However, often times too, it is easier to violate a law than follow it. When it costs less to violate it than to follow it, many will violate it and pay the small price for doing so. For example, many companies in the U.S. violate workers' rights, often times hire undocumented immigrants and exploit the workers. While the U.S. has policies against this, the consequences are often times worst for workers than the employers.

At least this is what I have been reading about in the Chipotle scandal where the company rallied so much on immigrant work and after an immigration audit, it fired the workers (some without pay or giving them time to find another job and not seek the government to change immigration laws). The lives of many workers and families are destroyed. Chipotle is probably going to pay some meaningless amount for this. It just replaced workers and that's it.

So, what should be the best policies that both protect the livelihoods of people and the productivity of companies? People need the jobs they are doing (in better conditions many times). What kind of consequences are deemed good?

 

Consumer Education

Corporations working in local communities do need to abide by standardized regulations. At Brilliant Earth, we work with our suppliers to ensure they follow labor, environmental, and human rights standards. Corporations often skirt these regulations because they are more influential than communities and the government refuses to regulate corporations that bring “economic benefit”. As Ramsey Hart stated “negotiating power is often tipped to the favour of the company”. One way to gain leverage in this situation is to educate consumers on corporations’ behavior. It limits companies’ ability to commit mass human rights abuses, as described by Meg Veitenheimer. Additionally, they are often willing to allow third party standard setting organizations to monitor their behavior internal workings.

This is where technology comes into play. There are a lot of opportunities for local communities to use their cell phones to mobilize or access socially minded companies or NGOs in developed countries through computers. That being said, there is still a huge accessibility issue that will not be solved overnight.  

Brilliant Earth, For class I

Brilliant Earth,

For class I am studying the banana industry, specifically the Chiquita Company in Guatemala, and the issues that have risen from their presence in Guatemala.  In one step for my class we were asked to map out the conflict using a mapping exercise we learned in class, by doing a mapping exercise I also came to the conclusion that the first step to ending the conflict is educating consumers. 

 

Will you provide specific examples of how consumers are being educated?  Is the information coming directly from those people being affected, or is it transferred via third-parties (like film-makers or NGOs, etc.) Also, in your experience, is educating consumers an effective tool?  While I was thinking about this same question for my project the coffee industry came to mind; consumers are now demanding fair trade coffee more than ever before which must correspond to an increase in education about this issue.  It must be effective to a certain degree, correct?

Emily Leaveck

Brilliant Earth, For class I

Brilliant Earth,

For class I am studying the banana industry, specifically the Chiquita Company in Guatemala, and the issues that have risen from their presence in Guatemala.  In one step for my class we were asked to map out the conflict using a mapping exercise we learned in class, by doing a mapping exercise I also came to the conclusion that the first step to ending the conflict is educating consumers. 

 

Will you provide specific examples of how consumers are being educated?  Is the information coming directly from those people being affected, or is it transferred via third-parties (like film-makers or NGOs, etc.) Also, in your experience, is educating consumers an effective tool?  While I was thinking about this same question for my project the coffee industry came to mind; consumers are now demanding fair trade coffee more than ever before which must correspond to an increase in education about this issue.  It must be effective to a certain degree, correct?

Emily Leaveck

Technology & Consumer Education

I appreciate the opportunity to better understand the role of consumer education from the perspective of a socially minded company like Brilliant Earth. Your post provided me a better understanding of how to engage the local community and how understanding corporate behavior can create a point of leverage for the negotiation of power. With that said, technology can enhance the educating process by connecting the socially minded parties involved. However, technology itself has accessibility limitations, and can greatly hinder the communication process. So given your position as a company that engages with the local level, I was hoping you might expand on your brief discussion of technology.Do you have any suggestions or examples of how such an obstacle can be overcome for those communities were access remains isolated? And are such efforts in favor of consumer education by technology typically supported by one party in particular? (the NGOs, socially minded companies, local community, etc.) While I do have a couple specific questions, I would appreciate your opinion and feedback on the topic in general. 

 

Devin Sheppard

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

They speak and act like NGOs now

From our experience in the Philippines, the main challenge facnig human rights defenders include:

1. ability of the mining company to have access and support of state machineries (police, military and local offocials)

2. mining companies have studied and started to employ the classic NGO tactics - community organizing, micro-enterpriose and social mobilization activities around welfare interventions

3. Finally, the mining industry is benefiting immensely from the misguided and erroneoulsy defined "sustainable mining" initiative of the International Council of MInes and Metals (ICMM)

in my opinion, activitists and human rights defenders must expose this third item, and hold the mining industry accoutnable to sabotaging the concept and framework of sustainable development, for its own benefit

"Sustainable Development"

Jaybee Garganera, thank you for explaining your experience in the Philippines with mining companies.  I am curious what you think a potential solution is of the misguided initiative of ICMM.  Is there any presence of any International certifications to ensure a regulation of holding companies accountable for following specific guidelines of social and environmental responsibility?


Brilliant Earth mentioned some standardized regulations that hold suppliers accountable for labor, environmental, and human rights standards.  Are there any such standards that all mining companies are required to follow/have the option of following on an international level?  Can the tactics used by Fair Trade certification be utilized in encouraging companies to follow such requirements?  Here is the website of the global organization that strives to encourage fair trade products: http://www.fairtrade.net/


Here is another article that discusses the growth of fair trade certification in the market:


http://www.bevnet.com/news/2010/7-15-2010-Guayaki_Fair_Trade_TransFair


Do we think that either this movement, or a similar movement, could encourage accountability of mining companies? 

win/win situation in gold mining case: Mexico/ Carizalillo

It’s very interesting to read about positive examples we can learn from. I’d like to add a case that happened back in 2007. I did not witness the case personally but I followed through written information basically:

In Mexico (Guerrero state) the Canadian company Luismin is running a gold mine in Carrizalillo. The rent Luismin paid for the land was extremely low and the company newer complied with the promises they had given initially to the community regarding social project and creating local jobs. In 2007 the community got organized, started protest and put pressure on the company blockading the entrance of the mine. Repression and defamation could not stop them, and finally, after a long long negotiation process company and community came to an agreement acceptable for both. The agreement includes higher rents benefitting the community, social and infrastructure projects etc. 

For everyone interested in more information please check these links:

http://www.tlachinollan.org/Etapa_1994-2010/casos/carrizalillo_win.html (short text in Spanish)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xgxwkv_a-cielo-abierto-trailer_creation (video trailer in Spanish with English subtitles)

I’m not sure how is the situation now in 2011. I think the agreements between company and community are being revised every year. Also I’m not sure how the community managed to administrate the much higher income from the rent. 

Lessons learned: Social protest is necessary where companies act in irresponsible ways. Dialogue and acceptable win/win situations are possible.  

Gregor

 

Win Win

It seems rare that all sectors in a mining conflict (mining, government, community groups, NGOs/civil society groups, labor, others) strive for Win-Win solutions.  When there is money at play, industry (and government and others) push to have the most profitable and productive mine possible (for themselves) - a total win.  Similarly, opposition to mining generally seeks to have NO-Mine - the opposite complete win.  I'm obviously generalizing but rarely does any side to such conflicts propose a middle ground.  Part of this may be negotiation strategy but more often than not the sides to such a conflict genuinely seek a Total Win.

It may not fit in all situations, but approaching a project (no matter what side you come from) with a better understanding of the other side's goals and rationale may help more projects succeed as Gregor describes in Carizalillo.  In the mediations I do as part of my legal practice most parties come to the table fully entrenched in their position and fully intending to Win it All.  After hearing the goals and rationale of the other side(s) - and hearing the other side's concerns and thinking - it is often possible to find a Win Win somewhere between them.  But it requires trust and patience and willingness to compromise.  There are always reasons to not have trust or patience or willingness to compromise - sometimes valid but also sometimes based simply in habit or personal belief.  I've seen this in industry and government as well as community groups and organizations.

It is not easy to do - but it may help to look at a mining conflict (or any conflict) from the perspective of how to make it a Win-Win.  Can mining be accomplished by using less destructive methods and providing health care - creating a value-added product:  The company gets public relations and advertising value and the product may be more valuable because it is "green" "fair trade" "social conscious" etc.  The community does have a mine now - but it is better protecting resources while paying a fair wage or providing health care or employing more locals and women. 

This requires at least understanding what are the most important goals for all sides and how to accomplish them (as compared to looking exclusively at how to accomplish the goals of "my side").  Elsewhere i describe the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA; http://www.responsiblemining.net/ ) - both of which look not just to Winning - but to the issues and elements that are necessary for a Win-Win project. On the last page (Resources) I describe the Framework for Responsible Mining http://www.frameworkforresponsiblemining.org/index.html) which examines and evaluates the key issues involved in mining.

Understanding what elements really matter to each side and how they can be achieved requires not only communications but good technical, scientific, and social information.  In some ways this is all sides looking at a project with eyes on "what is right" rather than "what is wrong."  If there are problems with the proposed design or proposed operations - can they be corrected and how? If there is a need to protect resources and human rights - can it be accomplished and how?  These questions are not easy to answer - but as I've seen in many mediations - communicating them may create a valid approach to mining conflicts to achieve a Win-Win.

 

looking for the win-win when possible

I agree with Stu that more solutions are likely when parties do not stand by their entrenched positions, understand those they are dealing with better and look for the win win situation. Resource conflicts and especially large scale extractive projects are particularily challenging, however, as the win win is only possible if the project goes ahead. In some cases that is not what a community sees as being in its interest and could never be considered a win.

Somehow I think there needs to be more discussion of potential projects before companies invest millions of dollars in them and have to pump up the project to attract additional investment. If governments did a better job of facilitating early dialouge, or responsible companies engaged in and respected community decisions up front it would help prevent conflicts.

RH

 

Consumer Eduction and Access to Technology

Firstly, consumers can be educated through NGOs, corporations, and other consumers. NGO’s often disseminate negative information about industry practices, educating consumers, and pressuring corporations. As companies adopt fair trade practices, consumers learn more about socially minded products from the corporations. As seen by the coffee industry, consumers were educated while completing their daily routine; they would sip their coffee and learn about fair trade goods. At Brilliant Earth, we find customers through marketing efforts, viral campaigns, and word of mouth. Often consumers are unaware of the mistreatment that local communities endure by mining companies and are glad to buy socially responsible products. At Brilliant Earth, our mission is tied directly to a tangible, high quality product, increasing access to consumers.

Secondly, access to technology can be limited in rural areas. Where access to technology is restricted, local communities must use NGOs to access socially minded corporations in other countries. We often learn about issues in local communities through international NGOs on the ground, and then utilize any technology in the community, even if it is simply a cell phone, to gather more information. Simply because social media can be used does not mean that other methods are not necessary.

Connecting disconnected communities

I agree with what Brilliant Earth stated that you do indeed need other methods other then social media to reduce a conflict.  I have learned in my research that a lot of the people that are directly affected by mahogany logging are indigenous groups that are extremely solitary.  They would have no access to any social media or social networking so if it was being used in relation to their conflict, how do you connect them to it?  So, my question is: how could we use social networking beneficial to the people involved in a conflict not connected to modern technology?

 

I think perhaps a third party could introduce social networking to them, maybe not asking them to be a part of it but summarizing what has been going on in the conflict on social networking sites.

 

What is everyone’s thoughts on this?

 Thank you, Sarah Eaton University of St. Thomas student

Social media, a possible use

Sarah you posed the question "how could we use social networking beneficial to the people involved in a conflict not connected to modern technology?" I believe that social networks can be very beneficial in informing consumers. In cases such as diamonds, coffee, and many other resources the consumer of the end product has the power to choose what they buy. I believe that social media can be used to educate and inform the consumer of these goods. Sadly we live in a world where peoples opinions are not viewed as equal, and these companies are not listening to those they exploit so it is our job as the consumer to buy wisely. I believe through reaching consumers and informing them of the injustices that happen to those that make the product.


Dealing with hearing the voice of those being exploited, there are computers that are powered by a hand crank. This technology was developed to bring computers to those who live in third world and undeveloped countries. I feel like this is a possible option for allowing those who are being exploited to make their injustices heard. It is a very useful technique in persuasion to use narrative. This allows audiences to emotionally connect to those suffering.


Matt Manion


UST student

Visits to successful sites

While working with UNDP project in Nepal, I observed that when conflicting communities and passive programme sites  were taken for visits to successful sites and were brought together for interactions, it helped the passive communities to learn from the successful cases.

Sustainable Community Development Programme, a UNDP project, implemented its first projects in one of the western regions of Nepal. In that specific district, communities built an eco-village and established themselves as an independent NGO. This programme was considered as a successful case and coordinators and communities from other programme districts were taken for tour to learn from their cases. During that programme they not only share their experiences but learned to tackle the problems they were facing.

What are the next steps?

Well, documenting the successful cases and resources and making them available widely would definitely work well.

I also agree to other commentators about the networking. Social networking definitely helps in sharing of experiences and learning from each other.

Challenges of Fair Trade minerals

I was very interested to see the launch of the Fair Trade gold recently. It's not an area I've looked into a lot but Scott Cardiff from Earthworks expressed some concerns in this blog:

http://earthblog.org/content/certified-fairtrade-gold-what-it-really

I also have to say I find the idea of "ethical" gold and diamonds fundamentally problematic. I'd say they might be "less" bad but do they do "good"? In the case of Canadian diamonds the story is certainly mixed. The community of Attawapiskat and the Lutsel Ke Dene are both examples of communities that have not been thrilled with the results of diamond mines in their traditional territories:

http://www.nsi-ins.ca/english/research/progress/56_vid.asp

http://intercontinentalcry.org/attawapiskat-holding-winter-blockade-agai...

http://www.miningwatch.ca/en/there-are-no-clean-diamonds-what-you-need-k...

The nadir of this is Walmart with what I would consider a green-washed "ethical" line of jewelery in the US called Love Earth.

Should we not reconsiderof our need and use of gold and diamonds - an admitedly idealistic position but one that I am personally very committed to.

As for today, I am doing my

As for today, I am doing my research about the Chiquita Company. This research is for complying for my monthly submission. The world supply in excess of just delicious fruit has been increased by the Chiquita Company. A huge legal action has started against the company alleging that the company funded terrorism, and the victims' families try to get justice for their murdered loved ones. The business is said to have made regular payments to far-right guerrillas. I found this here: Chiquita sued for terrorism payoffs in Colombia

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