MAC: Mines and Communities

Dear Members of Global Response's "Quick Response Network"

Published by MAC on 2006-04-12

Dear Members of Global Response's "Quick Response Network"

12th April 2006

For the past three years Global Response has supported the Kanak indigenous people of New Caledonia in their efforts to prevent environmental destruction from the Goro nickel mine, operated by Canadian mining giant INCO. The mine threatens to pollute coastal waters and coral reefs, as well as land areas that are held sacred by the Kanak people. Although the Kanak people have channeled their demands through elected representatives, they have been ignored by French and provincial authorities and by INCO officials.

Last week some members of the Kanak community erected barricades and cut off access to the mine site and damaged INCO property, bringing the mining operation to a halt. There were a number of arrests.

Please write to international authorities and urge them to put pressure on French authorities and on INCO to respect the rights of the indigenous Kanak people.



Dear Sirs:

I urge you to investigate violations of the rights of the indigenous Kanak people of New Caledonia, who oppose further construction of the Goro nickel mine operated by Goro-Nickel, a Paris based subsidiary of the Canadian mining company Inco. At stake for the Kanaks is the protection of fresh water from Yate Lake, which Inco plans to tap for the mine's operations, as well as the protection of nearby marine ecosystems, which Kanaks argue are threatened by a pipeline Inco plans to build to release mine waste water into the sea.

The Kanaks have been struggling for years to have Inco heed their requests for negotiations about the social and environmental impacts of Inco's massive project. They seek a negotiated and legally binding settlement regarding social and environmental impacts, much as that signed with Inco by the Innu of Labrador. The Kanak organization Rhéébù Nùù should be recognized as the legitimate representative of the Kanak people in these negotiations.

It is important to note that the Kanak people have not given their free prior and informed consent for this mine; the Senat Coutumier specifically withheld consent for the Goro mine in 2002.

Inco's CEO said at the 2004 AGM in Toronto that his company is not recognizing the indigenous peoples' rights in New Caledonia because France does not recognize these rights; On November 8th, 2004, The French Tribunal in Noumea said that the political and cultural rights of the indigenous people of New Caledonia exist and are protected by Law; Still, the Southern province president, Philippe Gomez and Inco-Goro Nickel refuse to negotiate with Rhéébù Nùù on the basis of the indigenous peoples' rights for better protection of all the communities - Kanaks and non Kanaks - from the environmental, cultural and social impacts of the project. All authorities and GN management continue to ignore contemptuously the Kanak demands, even when the traditional authorities ask that sacred sites on the mountain and in the Prony bay be respected.

Thank you for taking immediate steps to assure that the French government, local authorities and Inco respect the Kanak people's rights.



1) President Louis Schweitzer
Haute autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l'égalité
11 rue Saint Georges
75009 Paris - France
Fax : + 331 5531 6149

Louis Schweitzer, president of the newly established Haute autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l'égalité (HALDE) - High Authority for the struggle against discrimination and for equality:

2) José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
1049 Brussels - Belgium.

(In 2002 The European Parliament urged France to sign the European Convention for the protection of national minorities and also to sign and ratify the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal populations. EU has strong commitment to promoting the rights of indigenous peoples (Resolution of 30 November 1998) and has called the member states to implement the resolution especially when development programs affect indigenous communities directly or indirectly, etc.)

3) Fondation Danielle Mitterrand - France Libertés
22 rue de Milan - 75009 PARIS
tel : 0033 (0)1 53 25 10 40
fax : 0033 (0)1 53 25 10 42
Communication :
Marion Esquerré
Rita Cristofari

Danielle Mitterrand, widow of the former French president, is still very active on indigenous rights issues. She presides over France Libertés-Fondation Danielle Mitterrand and should be asked to support the struggle of one of "the indigenous peoples of the French Republic"!

4) Rodolfo Stavenhagen
United Nations Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
United Nations - Room DC2-1772,
2 UN Plaza
New York, NY 10017
Telephone : (917) 367-5100
Fax : (917) 367-5102
E-mail :

Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights;

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Paula Palmer, Executive Director
Global Response

PO Box 7490
Boulder, Colorado 80306
United States

Tel +303/444-0306

Global Response organizes effective international letter-writing campaigns to protect the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples. See action alerts for adults, teens and children at

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