MAC: Mines and Communities

African civil society condemns forthcoming Summit's false agenda

Published by MAC on 2012-05-29
Source: Statement (2012-05-12)

A number of African environmental organisations have condemned next month's Rio-Plus 20 "Earth Summit" as aimed at "the greening of the existing economic system which is not sustainable".

Among their demands are that African countries should "leave fossil fuels in the soil" and reject crude oil, gas (including fracking), tar sands and coal extraction.

The African Center for Democracy & Human Rights has also condemned "the priority given to inappropriate resource mining, excavation of water sources, and inadequately vetted commercial or industrial interest in land investment and development".

Yet a third continental grouping urges the setting-up of "independent monitoring and accountability mechanisms that ensure that human rights are justiciable, and [to make] extractive industries and investors legally accountable in the country hosting their activities and in the country of legal domicile". 

Green economy is a diversion from the principles of the Earth Summit of 1992

Statement by Friends of the Earth Africa at her Annual General Meeting

12 May 2012

Accra, Ghana - Members of FoE Africa from Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Swaziland Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda met and reviewed global issues with particular focus on those that confront the African continent.

The politics of scrambling for African natural resources, intense oil and gas extraction, land grabbing, forest and biodiversity degradation and dangerous climate change are among the issues that continue to confront the continent.

Other issues are the continued imposition of genetically modified food and other organisms on the continent. Political crisis continues with Mali, Guinea Bissau, Swaziland, being just examples of the latest hotspots.

FoE Africa groups reject the outcomes of the UNFCCC COP17 in Durban and the false solutions still being projected as means of tackling climate change.

The inability of the COP17 to achieve ambitious emission targets for developed countries, but instead trying to water- down the key principles underlining equity and historical responsibility have detrimental consequences for Africa and other developing countries.

We affirm and endorse the Peoples Agreement reached at the people's climate summit in April 2010 at Cochabamba, Bolivia, as a suitable political platform for reaching an equitable climate regime with full recognition of historical responsibilities.

We call on African governments and institutions to reject and take steps to halt the cancer of land grabbing and corporate control of Africa's natural resources.

The diversion of arable lands and food crops for agrofuels; licencing polluters to carry on polluting under the cover of REDD and similar mechanisms only serve to push Africa into more precarious positions and must be resisted as they erode political, social, economic and environmental justice on the continent.

The upcoming Rio +20 must ensure sustainable development framework that delivers social and economic justice as well as environmental protection.

The Rio +20 must look at fundamental problems but not the greening of the existing economic system which is not sustainable.

Green economy is a diversion from the principles of the Earth Summit of 1992, setting out to increase poverty through promoting resource grabbing, promote false solutions to environmental crisis, blocking genuine solutions and promote market environmentalism or commodification of nature.

Green economy is a cover to introduce harmful technology and does not provide agenda to move away from the fossil fuel or emission reduction.

Following from the above, FoE Africa calls on all to join us and:

1. Support popular demands for true and participatory democracy on the continent with full respect of human rights and social equity

2. We condemn in the strongest terms, the military and foreign intervention and destruction of democratic structures in countries in Africa

3. Work together for the attainment of land rights, energy and food sovereignty on the continent

4. Demand a shift from fossil fuels as energy sources to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

5. Call on African countries to leave the fossil fuels in the soil: say no to crude oil, gas (including fracking), tar sands and coal extraction.

6. We demand equity and justice principles in the Rio +20 Summit

FoE Africa calls on all Africans to join hands to mobilize, resist and work for the transformation of our societies and the world.

Signed:

Ghana: Friends of the Earth-Ghana
Liberia: Sustainable Development Institute
Malawi: Citizens for Justice
Mauritius: Maudesco
Mozambique: Justica Ambiental
Nigeria: Environmental Rights Action
South Africa: groundWork
Sierra Leone: Friends of the Earth
Swaziland: Yonge Nawe
Tanzania: Lawyers Environmental Action Team
Tunisia: Association Tunisseinne Pour La Protection de la Nature et de L'environnment
Uganda: National Association of Professional Environmentalists

For more information contact:
1. George Awudi, Friends of the Earth-Ghana
Telephone: +233 277423014/545231324

2. Siziwe Khanyile, groundWork
Telephone: +277 38308173


Declaration on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Natural Resources Governance: adopted in preparation to the Rio+20 Summit

African Center for Democracy & Human Rights

16 April 2012

Stressing the interdependence between human and economic development as well as the integral nature of the Earth, our home,

Recalling the 1981 African Charter of Human and People's Rights as authoritatively interpreted by the 2011 Tunis Reporting Guidelines and the 2010 Nairobi Implementation Guidelines on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in particular Articles 20, 21 and 24 of the Charter protecting the rights of peoples to pursue their social and economic development in terms of policies they have freely chosen; to freely dispose of their natural resources in the exclusive interest of the people; and to a generally satisfactory environment;

Recalling Principle 2 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development establishing State sovereignty over natural resources, read with Principle 1 providing that "human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature" and Principle 22 providing that "local communities have a vital role in environmental management and development and, as a result, their identity, culture and interests must be protected";

Noting that there has recently been rapid progress in the definition of minimum international standards with respect to natural resources required to maintain life itself.

Noting in particular the recent recognition of the human right to food and the human right to water and sanitation, implying that natural resources governance must be operated in such a way as to respect these rights, and fight the fast depletion of water resources in Africa due to priority given to inappropriate resource mining, excavation of water sources, and inadequately vetted commercial or industrial interest in land investment and development;

Observing that current natural resources governance is gravely hampered by ill-planned development, misappropriation of land, corruption, bad governance, misaligned budget priorities, lack of strong institutional reforms, weak policies coupled with continued denial of civil and political rights and prevailing insecurities, including military interventions in extractive areas;

Mindful of the disproportionate impact of human rights abuses upon the rural communities in Africa that continue to struggle to assert their customary rights of access and control of various resources, including land, minerals, forestry and fishing;

Working towards a reaffirmation at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012 that natural resources governance and international agreements must respect international human rights law and international law and standards to combat corruption, and protect the integrity of the global environmental and developmental system,

The African Commission on Human and People's Rights reaffirms that:

In accordance with the principle of State sovereignty over natural resources established in the Rio Declaration and Art.21.1 of the African Charter, the State has the main responsibility for ensuring natural resources stewardship with, and for the interest of, the population and must fulfil its mission in conformity with international human rights law and standards;

All necessary measures must be taken by the State to ensure meaningful, transparent and free participation, which includes the free, prior and informed consent of communities, in decision making related to natural resources governance;

States should place natural resources governance under transparency, including through open budgeting and certification processes and protection of the freedoms of the press, information and expression.

The right of access to information and to documents generated by the government, or to which the government is a party, that are necessary for citizens to understand the extent and value of their natural resources and the payments for those resources received and disbursed by their governments and/or local communities, in order to bring their legislation in line with Article 1 of the African Charter, must be ensured;

States should vigorously fight corruption at all levels of decision making by strengthening and enforcing criminalization of corruption, decisively ending impunity and ensuring asset recovery and repatriation for illicitly expatriated capital;

States should boldly ensure that natural resources governance does not undermine the full enjoyment of basic human rights, respect of the rule of law and the principles of equality and non-discrimination as stated in the African Charter as completed by the Tunis and Nairobi Guidelines, in particular the right to health, the right to property, the right to work, the right to culture, the right to housing, the right to food and the right to water and sanitation in addition to civil and political rights necessary to assert all other such rights and that communities are protected from forced evictions;

States should ensure respect for human rights in all matters of natural resources exploration, extraction, toxic waste management, development, management and governance, in international cooperation, investment agreements and trade regulation;

At the occasion of the Rio+20 Summit in order to ensure an enabling framework for sustainable development, States should:

Establish a clear legal framework to sustainable development as it impacts on natural resources, and in particular water, that would make the realization of human rights a prerequisite for sustainability;

Set up international mechanisms to review existing mining legislations and standards, and to strengthen regional efforts, such as the 2009 ECOWAS Directive on mining, to harmonize natural resources legislation that respect human rights of all and require transparent, maximum and effective community participation in a) decision-making about, b) prioritisation and scale of, and c) benefits from any development on their land or other resources or that affects them in any substantial way,

Set up independent monitoring and accountability mechanisms that ensure that human rights are justiciable and extractive industries and investors legally accountable in the country hosting their activities and in the country of legal domicile,

Ensure independent social and human rights impact assessments that guarantee in particular free prior informed consent; effective remedies; fair compensation; women and indigenous and customary people's rights; environmental impact assessments; impact on community identity including livelihoods, governance structures and culture, and ensuring public participation; protection of the individuals in the informal sector; and economic, cultural and social rights,

Done in Banjul - 16th April, 2012


224: Resolution on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Natural Resources Governance

http://www.achpr.org/sessions/51st/resolutions/224/

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Commission), at its 51st Ordinary Session held from 18 April to 2 May 2012 in Banjul, The Gambia;

Considering its mandate to promote human and peoples' rights in Africa under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (the African Charter);

Recalling Articles 20, 21 and 24 of the African Charter as elaborated by the 2011 Tunis Reporting Guidelines and the 2010 Nairobi Implementation Guidelines on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, particularly in protecting the rights of peoples to pursue their social and economic development in terms of policies they have freely chosen; to freely dispose of their natural resources in the exclusive interest of the people; and to generally satisfactory environment;

Noting the interdependence between human rights and development;

Recalling Principle 2 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development establishing State sovereignty over natural resources, read with Principle 1 providing that "human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature" and Principle 22 providing that "local communities have a vital role in environmental management and development and, as a result, their identity, culture and interests must be protected";

Noting that there has recently been rapid progress in the definition of minimum international standards with respect to natural resources required to maintain life itself, in particular the recent recognition of the human right to food and the human right to water and sanitation;

Observing that current natural resources governance is gravely hampered by ill-planned development, misappropriation of land, corruption, bad governance and prevailing insecurities, amongst others;

Mindful of the disproportionate impact of human rights abuses upon the rural communities in Africa that continue to struggle to assert their customary rights of access and control of various resources, including land, minerals, forestry and fishing;

Calls upon States Parties to:

1. Reaffirm that, in accordance with the Rio Declaration and African Charter principle of State sovereignty over natural resources, the State has the main responsibility for ensuring natural resources stewardship with, and for the interest of, the population and must fulfill its mission in conformity with international human rights law and standards;

2. Confirm that all necessary measures must be taken by the State to ensure participation, including the free, prior and informed consent of communities, in decision making related to natural resources governance;

3. Recommit themselves to vigorously fighting corruption at all levels of decision making by strengthening and enforcing criminalization of corruption, decisively ending impunity and ensuring asset recovery and repatriation for illicitly expatriated capital;

4. Ensure that respect for human rights in all matters of natural resources exploration, extraction, toxic waste management, development, management and governance, in international cooperation, investment agreements and trade regulation prevails, and in particular:

1 Establish a clear legal framework for sustainable development as it impacts on natural resources, in particular water, that would make the realization of human rights a prerequisite for sustainability;

2 Strengthen regional efforts, such as the 2009 ECOWAS Directive on Mining and the African Commission's Working Group on Extractive Industries and Human Rights, to promote natural resources legislation that respect human rights of all and require transparent, maximum and effective community participation in a) decision-making about, b) prioritisation and scale of, and c) benefits from any development on their land or other resources. or that affects them in any substantial way;

3 Set up independent monitoring and accountability mechanisms that ensure that human rights are justiciable and extractive industries and investors legally accountable in the country hosting their activities and in the country of legal domicile;

4 Ensure independent social and human rights impact assessments that guarantee free prior informed consent; effective remedies; fair compensation; women, indigenous and customary people's rights; environmental impact assessments; impact on community existence including livelihoods, local governance structures and culture, and ensuring public participation; protection of the individuals in the informal sector; and economic, cultural and social rights.

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