MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines Gets Un Deadline To Act On Mining Charges

Published by MAC on 2007-09-10

Philippines Gets UN Deadline to Act on Mining Charges

By ELLAYN DE VERA, Manila Bulletin

10th September 2007

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) has imposed a deadline on the Philippine government to address the charges made by Subanon people in Zamboanga del Norte who said the government "failed to uphold and protect" the rights of the indigenous peoples (IPs) in its promotion of large-scale mining in ancestral lands.

In a letter dated last Aug. 24 from UNCERD chairman Regis de Gouttes, the Philippine government was requested "to submit its response and comment no later than Dec. 31, 2007."

The response will be examined by the committee members during the 72nd UNCERD session from Feb. 18, 2008 to March 7, 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Gouttes said in the absence of a response on the set deadline, the committee will "consider adopting a decision under its early warning and urgent action procedure during the UNCERD session next year."

At least three indigenous organizations from the Subanon tribe sought the intervention of the UN last August on reports that Mt. Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte has been "desecrated" by large-scale mining operations of Canadian mining firm TVI Pacific.

Furthermore, as cited in the UNCERD's letter to the Philippine government, it urged the government to submit its 15th to 18th periodic reports, which were overdue since 1998.

"In case of non-receipt of the overdue reports by June 30, 2008, concluding observations will be adopted in the absence of a report and in light of information received from other sources, including from non-government organizations at its 73rd session from July 28 to Aug. 15, 2008," Gouttes said.

The UNCERD is the body of independent experts monitoring the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which was adopted in December 1965, by its state parties.

At least 59 state parties including the Philippines, which ratified the ICERD in 1967, are members of the UNCERD.

All state-parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the convention and then every two years. The committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the state party in the form of "concluding observations."
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