Extractives in Latin America in debate at COMECE

In cooperation with Pax Christi International and CIDSE, COMECE organised a panel discussion on the challenges posed by the extractive industries in Latin America. Grassroots actors and policy-makers exchanged on challenges and perspectives at different levels.

(Credit: COMECE)

The panel hosted by COMECE included Mikeas Sánchez Gomez, a representative of the indigenous Zoque community from Chiapas (Mexico), Martha Ines Romero, Pax Christi Coordinator for Latin American and the Caribbean, Stefan Reinhold representing CIDSE and Tove Sövndahl Gant from the European External Action Service.

According to their experience, the panellists highlighted the recent intensification of extractive activities by mainly transnational companies and their impact on livelihoods, ecosystems and human rights of local communities in Latin America.

During the debate, several policy recommendations have been made. The EU was encouraged to make full use of its policy instruments – from diplomacy and human rights to development and trade policy – in order to exert pressure on local governments to:
• abide by the rule of law and fundamental rights,
• adopt legislation on environmental protection,
• strengthen capacity-building of local stakeholders and governments in Free Prior Informed Consent and decision-making processes, and
• develop effective redress mechanisms for victims of human rights violations.
The panel debate takes place at a time when the EU is participating in the negotiations on a UN binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights which – once adopted – could become a significant instrument for corporate liability at the international level.

In his Encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis formulated an important encouragement for short- and medium-term reform in this regard. He called “business a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world”, (…) “if diversified and innovative forms of production which impact less on the environment” are developed in order to provide a long-term perspective for justice, equity and sustainability.

Download the photos from the event
Download the programme of the event
Watch the video on the indigenous Zoque community