Mining threatens to eat up northern Europe’s last wilderness

Vast network of rivers, lakes and mountains in Finland, Sweden and Norway at risk from being exploited for rare earth and other minerals

Article shared from:, Wednesday 3 September 2014 06.00 BST


A general view of the Syd Varanger iron ore mine near the arctic city of Kirkenes, northern Norway is pictured on June 3, 2013.The Syd Varanger iron ore mine near the Arctic city of Kirkenes, northern Norway. Photograph: Pierre-henry Deshayes/AFP/Getty Images


Great stretches of Europe’s last wildernesses risk being damaged and polluted as the international mining industry gears up to develop northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway  in search of uranium, iron ore, nickel, phosphorus, and valuable rare earth minerals, according to environmentalists.

The prize for British, Australian, Canadian and other companies is billion-dollar mega mines in Lapland, a region which covers all three countries and Russia, able to supply burgeoning industry in Asia.

But conservationists say the rush could bring permanent damage to the vast network of rivers, lakes and mountains which are home to many of Europe’s largest mammals, such as the lynx, wolf, bear and wolverine.

In addition, human rights groups argue that Lapland and Sami indigenous commuities who live by reindeer herding and fishing will be hit, along with the region’s tourist industry, which depends on pristine nature.

The polar mining boom, which mirrors the oil industry’s search for oil and gas, is heating up as climate change makes new areas and sea routes accessible and world prices of iron ore continue to soar.

So far in 2014, 349 applications for mining permits have been made, of which 243 have been for Finland. Over one-eighth of Finland, an area twice the size of Wales, has now been designated for mining and hundreds of applications for exploration licenses have been received by the government.

According to some studies, the Arctic holds over a fifth of the world’s untapped, recoverable oil and gas resources, as well as major reserves of rare earth, coal, uranium, gold, diamonds, zinc, platinum, nickel and iron ore.

Some of the biggest developments could be in sparsely populated Finnish Lapland where government is encouraging industrial development with tax breaks and state help. If, as expected, Finland contributes £200m to a railway linking the mining region with northern Norway and the the Barents Sea, dozens of giant mines are expected to open in one of Europe’s most ecologically fragile regions. Many would be close to skiing areas, national parks and wilderness areas.

Norwegian fertiliser company Yara International plans a massive 40-60 sq km open-cast phosphorus mine near Sokli in eastern Lapland between the Urho Kekkonen national park and the Värriö nature park. Billions of gallons of polluted waste water would have to be be drained, via pristine lakes and rivers, and millions of tonnes of waste would be created every year.

“Lapland has a very vulnerable Arctic nature. Mining will cause damage which would last at least thousands of years or not fixed at least until next ice age,” says Finnish biochemist Jari Natunen.

“Small mines would produce from a few to tens of millions tons of waste materials, and larger ones even more. Heavy metal waste will typically leak out for hundreds of years … Typically, open pits are left empty to be filled with contaminated water which would flow over to surface water and contaminate ground water.”

An aerial view of frozen Finnish lake Kivijaervi after waste water began to leak from a nearby mine on November 12, 2012 in Talvivaara. Toxic levels of nickel have been found in a Finnish lake after waste water began to leak from a nearby mine, the government's environmental agency said. Toxic levels of nickel were found in the frozen Finnish lake Kivijaervi in Talvivaara after waste water began to leak from a nearby mine in November 2012. Photograph: Kimmo Rauatmaa/AFP/Getty Images

Mining in Finland is governed by EU pollution laws but conservationists warn that supervision and control of the industry is poor and government has often failed to monitor or act because the industry and the authorities are closely and intimately linked.

Existing mines have been found to be contaminating the feeding grounds of reindeer, with heavy metals such as antimony, copper, cobalt, nickel and chromium in dust measured in moss.

“Mining companies know that the authorities provide licences for exploration and mining very easily. Our authorities are understaffed and underfunded and tend to to ignore both environmental and social impact assessments,” said Tero Mustonen, lead author in the Finnish government’s Arctic Biodiversity Assessment and president of the Snowchange Co-operative in North Karelia, Finland.

“The number of mining permits in Lapland is now so big that we are approaching a tipping point, a point of no return,” he said. “If and when the current mining exploration and development plans lead to actual mines we will be in a situation where most of the fragile, sub-Arctic catchment areas, animal and plantlife and terrestrial ecosystems, adapted to the Arctic conditions, cannot withstand the impacts.”

“The Sokli mine is seen as only the first among many planned massive opencast mines in Finnish Lapland, including highly protected conservation areas,” said Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen. “This region does not need a gold rush. The unique nature of Lapland is a precondition for the future of tourism industry and reindeer herding.”

Further west, work to relocate Sweden’s most northerly town Kiruna to make way for what will be one of the world’s biggest underground iron ore mines is expected to start next year. All 23,000 people, 3,000 buildings, schools, churches and hospitals will be moved a few miles east but already the company LKAB has said it wants to make the mine bigger.

Last year the Swedish government said it planned to treble the number of mines in the country.

Australian, American and other mining giants have descended on the Kiruna region where several mega mines are planned. One, by British mining company Boewulf, hopes to mine 10m tonnes of iron ore a year for 25 years, providing hundreds of jobs.

The iron ore mine, operated by LKAB, Sweden's state-owned mining company in Kiruna, Sweden, on August 21, 2013. Swedes living in the Arctic town of Kiruna are packing up their belongings before their homes are bulldozed to make way for iron ore mining driven by Chinese demand. The iron ore mine, operated by LKAB, Sweden’s state-owned mining company in Kiruna, Sweden. Photograph: Casper Hedberg/Getty Images

Opinions are polarised, with Sami communities protesting strongly, and others saying the region urgently needs investment. “The [Boewulf] mine and its infrastructure threatens to devastate the conditions for reindeer herding in the area, says Jonas Vannar, a spokesman for the Sami community. “This project endangers our entire existence.”

“It’s better for the company to abandon this project immediately in order to avoid additional costs and stress among the reindeer herders,” said Mattias Åhrén, head lawyer, human rights unit, Sami Council.

Northern Norway, which has over 40 working mines, expects to have nearly 70 within a few years. However, handling their waste is proving controversial.

Marine scientists, environmental groups, fishermen and reindeer herders all complained strongly when Norway earlier this year allowed one mining company to dump millions of tonnes of waste a year from a copper mine into the Arctic fjord of Repparfjord where fish stocks spawn.

“Norway is one of only four countries in the world where the mining industry is still allowed to use submarine tailings, the cheapest available and environmentally harmful technology of waste handling,” says Lars Haltbrekken, chair of Friends of the Earth, Norway. “The others are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Turkey. Both PNG and Indonesia are discussing if they should end this harmful practice.”

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Exceptional new policy in the Democratic Republic of Congo

DSC08328Momentous new policy option for the customary forests of indigenous peoples and traditional communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Decree of August 2 (in French) offers a process to gain collective perpetual rights to customary forests

Something truly promising has just happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo!  In early August a new national decree has been signed into force that allows communities to demand the recognition of a “forest concession” in their customary land.  After a procedure, such concessions can be allocated free of charge and in perpetuity to the community conc

erned.    Yes, the term “forest concession” made some of us doubtful…  but the fact that such concessions are to be held collectively and in perpetuity made us think twice.  Basically, communities have now a legal means to acquire collective use rights forever—a feat that was until recently, rather unthinkable.

This policy emerged after the approval of an Environmental Code in the province of South Kivu, where the community right of governing and managing ICCAs has been formally recognised because of the great work of the local Members of the ICCA Consortium: Strong Roots and REPALEF.   And now the whole country is following suit with a Decree of the Prime Minister regulating the modalities of forest concessions for local communities throughout the country.   In the space of a few months a provincial legislation was passed, and now a national decree.  The speed of these decisions is amazing, which signal a major change for the way in which indigenous peoples and traditional communities can relate to their territories and natural resources in a country that is nearly a continent in itself and includes the bulk of forests in Africa.


The community concessions forests are to be “locally protected”, which is specified to mean utilised sustainably for the livelihoods needs of the concerned rightholder community.   The details are to be tried out — in particular the process of recognition and the fact that the local authority over “management” – i.e. the governing body – is to be either a formal non-profit association or a cooperative.

If you read French, you can go to the main page of the Consortium web site and download from there the text of the next degree of the Prime Minister.


this is a forest

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ICCA ALERT: Consortium appeal to the Tanzania authorities: NO eviction of Uvinje villagers, respect communities sensitive to conservation!

Uvinje 3               Uvinje 2

This Consortium alert involves Uvinje, a small, coastal sub-village of Saadani Village, north of Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania. The residents of Uvinje face forced eviction from their land and homes because the Tanzania National Park Authority (TANAPA) has redrawn its boundary lines and unilaterally gazetted Uvinje’s present and ancestral lands to extend the coverage of Saadani National Park.

In 1965, the Saadani village leaders themselves approached the Director of Wildlife to request support to protect local wildlife that was being indiscriminately hunted by outsiders. The Saadani Game Reserve (SGR) was created, and officially gazetted by the Wildlife Division in 1974. The community thus voluntarily contributed over 66% of their original lands to the Reserve, including voluntarily vacating some smaller sub-villages, close to the better rangelands where wildlife found important habitats. In exchange, the community was promised the retention in perpetuity of the coastal areas where their main villages, including Uvinje, are situated. In the 1990s, without involving or consulting the local communities, TANAPA redrew the boundaries of the Saadani Game Reserve to include the totality of the Uvinje and Porokanya sub-villages and a portion of the remaining Saadani village lands.

In 2006, an official investigation by the Commissioner of Bagamoyo District and the Regional Commissioner of the Coastal Region into the status of the village lands ruled firmly in favour of the villagers. In late 2011, however, TANAPA and a new Bagamoyo District Commissioner insisted that the villagers were to relocate. In June 2014 government officials and policemen attempted to start the expropriation of the Uvinje community’s lands. There have also been attempts to persuade Uvinje villagers to accept compensation, which legitimate members of the community have steadfastly rejected. Now, recent independent research set out the full history of the status of the lands in question, including expert spatial analysis of relevant maps and boundary descriptions.

Despite the decision by TANAPA to alter the recorded boundaries of the Saadani Game reserve, the villagers of Uvinje remain the legal owners of the village lands in question, for which they have for a long time proven to be diligent custodians, able to respect and manage wildlife whilst remaining in situ. The Consortium is appealing to the top national authorities in Tanzania to cancel the proposed eviction of Sadaani villagers from Uvinje. In our letter of August 20 2014, we stress that, as of 2012:

• no fewer than 1,233 villages in Tanzania have brought 2.366 million hectares of woodland and forest and comparable natural flora areas under protection as village owned and managed reserves;

• a further 5.392 million hectares of National and Local Authority Reserves are managed by communities under the technical guidance of local and national forest authorities; and

• more than 3% of the country’s land area is under 38 Wildlife Management Areas— communal lands set aside by 148 villages exclusively as habitat for wildlife, engaging active contributions to conservation by more than 440,000 people.

The Consortium appeals for amicable dialogue between State and the villagers of Uvinje and the seeking of a mutual agreement possibly via one of the many constructive options that exist, in Tanzania, to secure and conserve village land and natural resources.


Here is the letter sent in by the Consortium: Letter from ICCA Consortium about Uvinje

 Uvinje 8

Are here are the explanatory annexes:

 Annex 1. The Wildlife Conservation Games Reserves Order, Section 8. Official Gazette. G.N. No. 275 of 1974.

Annex 2. Spatial Analysis on extent and location of Saadani village’s land gazetted as park land.

Annex 3. Pre and post Park establishment official communications, from District and village level authorities, addressing multiple issues relating to Park claims to village land.

Annex 4. Letter from the Bagamoyo District Commissioner to the Head of the Saadani National Park. December 1, 2006. This letter addressed to TANAPA describes the Regional Commissioner’s orders that Uvinje residents should not be moved and that their land rights should be reinstated.

Annex 5. Documentation relating to confusion in identification of beneficiaries of compensation.

Annex 6. Independent Research: Case Study Report: Uvinje Village & the Saadani National Park Tanzania, May 2014, Alejandra Orozco, Coastal Resource Analysis Lab, University of Victoria; and Environmental Evaluation For Tourism Development in the Saadani Game Reserve, February 1997, Institute of Resource Assessment, UDSM, commissioned by the Wildlife Division and the Ministry of Natural Resources & Tourism.

Uvinje 1      Uvinje 7

==>  Follow this link to read the website dedicated to this case. A lot of detailed information, notably a spatial analysis of the case can be found in it.

Follow and support the Uvinje struggle for their rights in their facebook page!

You can also visit the Just blog on the case.

Everyone can be involved at its own personal level by signing this petition: “Reinstate land rights of Uvinje village”

Uvinje 6 Uvinje 4

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Líderes campesinos enfrentaron sentencia por defender bosque comunal en Salamá, Baja Verapaz

Líderes campesinos enfrentaron sentencia por defender bosque comunal en Salamá, Baja Verapaz 

==> Aquí se puede encontrar el documento original

El pasado 4 de Junio inició el Debate en el Tribunal de Sentencia Penal, Narcoactividad y Delitos Contra el Ambiente del Departamento de Baja Verapaz, contra 8 líderes campesinos de las comunidades Pacalaj, El Carmen y Llano Largo, que han sido criminalizados por la defensa del bosque comunal, tras impedir que un comerciante maderero ingresara al bosque comunal para utilizar inadecuadamente los recursos. Las comunidades Pacalaj, Llano Largo, El Carmen, La Paz I y II de este municipio, que a través de su Asociación de Vecinos -APACALAJ-, han protegido durante más de 100 años los bosques de la Finca Pacalaj, que según el Centro de Estudios Ambientales de la Universidad del Valle de Guatemala “tiene especial importancia como ecosistema y como bosque productor de agua para las comunidades aledañas y para la ciudad de Salamá”[1].

En las audiencias de debate el Juez Mario Castro Can, escuchó la declaración de los campesinos, al querellante Felino Pérez Jacinto y a los testigos. Ambas partes expusieron la situación que enfrentó a la comunidad con el mencionado comerciante maderero la tarde del 1º de febrero de 2010.

Tras la suspensión de la audiencia para dictar sentencia prevista para el 20 de Junio, debido a una excusa presentada por la abogada del querellante,  se estableció nueva fecha y  fue hasta este 25 junio que el Juez Mario Castro Can dictó sentencia a los 8 comunitarios, luego de haber escuchado al Ministerio Público, a la abogada del querellante y los defensores emitir sus conclusiones.  La sentencia dictada versa de la siguiente forma:

  • Por el delito de coacción se declaró la absolución, pues el juez no encontró elementos suficientes que dieran indicios en la comisión de los hechos.
  •         Por el delito de detención ilegal, se les condenó a un año y cuatro meses de prisión conmutables. A la vez, se decreta la suspensión condicional de la pena por el término de dos años, y que al cabo de los mismos quedará extinta la responsabilidad penal.


La sentencia, si bien no es del todo favorable a los líderes comunitarios, si resuelve un proceso que ha amenazado a la organización comunitaria y a los líderes campesinos acusados por más de 4 años.  De conformidad con lo resuelto por el Juzgador los líderes comunitarios no irán a prisión.

Es de resaltar que al momento de emitir sentencia, el Juez instó a los comunitarios a  actuar de manera recelosa con el bosque pues es su deber cuidar de los recursos naturales, principalmente porque del bosque de Pacalaj proviene agua que abastece al municipio de Salamá. Es por ello que se hace necesario involucrarse en el cuidado y la defensa del bosque e inculcar estas prácticas a nuestros hijos, aunque eso no exime de la responsabilidad de actuar en el marco de la ley.

La pretensión de Q 350 mil por daños por parte del querellante fue declarada sin lugar, pues la acción civil no quedó demostrada por ser infundada, desproporcionada y no guarda relación con los hechos. Incluso el Juez Mario Castro Can  certificó lo conducente por una posible defraudación tributaria por parte del querellante. No obstante se condenó a cada comunitario al pago de una cantidad mínima en concepto de indemnización al querellante, que en total no supera los Q 4 mil.

Es importante recalcar que la defensa de los bosques en beneficio de la comunidad de Salamá, ha sido un compromiso social que las comunidades campesinas Pacalaj, Llano Largo y El Carmen han cumplido por varias generaciones. Desde finales de la década de 1990 la comunidad ha realizado esfuerzos de reforestación, contando con apoyo del Programa de Incentivos Forestales (PINFOR) a partir del año 2000, el cual fue cancelado en el año 2006 debido al juicio iniciado por el señor Felino Pérez Jacinto, el mismo comerciante maderero que sin ser originario de la comunidad ha promovido los conflictos.

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Momentous new policy option for the customary forests of indigenous peoples and traditional communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Momentous new policy option for the customary forests of indigenous peoples and traditional communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Decree of August 2 (in French) offers a process to gain collective perpetual rights to customary forests

this is a forest


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Posicionamiento de la Coordinadora Nacional de Los Pueblos Originarios de EL Salvador presentado en evento del 9 y 10 de agosto en encuentro de los pueblos indígenas en Ahuachapan


La coordinadora nacional de pueblos originarios de el Salvador CNPO-ES se reunieron con motivo del día de los pueblos indígenas, aqui es el documento consensuado al fin de este reunión:







Nosotros, La Coordinadora Nacional de Pueblos Originarios de El Salvador  (CNPO-ES) integrada por  Los Pueblos Nahuat Pipil del occidente de El Salvador, La organización Los Pasos del Jaguar,   La Alianza de Pueblos Originarios Lencas, Ulúas y Nonualcos; Consejo Ancestral Indígena del Señorío de Los Nonualcos, Asociacion de Heroes de Peña Blanca, Movimiento Indígena de El Salvador MIES, Asociación Cooperativa de Producción Agropecuaria Artesanal Turística Huizapan de RL, El Pueblo Kakawira, Consejo Indígena Kakawira Planta Nueva; El Pueblo Chortí, Sindicato de Pueblos Originarios Indígenas de Xicacalco, en unidad con: La Alianza por el BUEN VIVIR, La Sustentabilidad y la Paz Global formada por El Movimiento Siglo XXIII: Paz Sustentable; El Comité Ecuménico de Estudiantes Universitarios Salvadoreños (CEEUS); El Grupo Sin Cuenta (G50); El Punto Focal de El Salvador de la Red de Juventudes Río+Vos y las Universidades Internacionales Libres para la Paz:

Reconocemos y afirmamos:

Que en la ratificación a la reforma del Artículo 63, promulgada el 12 de junio del presente año de la Constitución de El Salvador; se reconoce a los Pueblos Originarios, y establece el compromiso de adoptar políticas a fin de mantener y desarrollar su identidad étnica. 

Consecuentemente El Estado de El Salvador, por tal reconocimiento deberá proceder a adoptar políticas a fin de mantener y desarrollar su identidad étnica y cultural, cosmovisión, valores y espiritualidad”.


Que esta Reforma Constitucional producto de las luchas históricas de nuestros pueblos ancestrales, crea condiciones, desafíos y aperturas que pueden fortalecer local y nacionalmente la organización desde una lógica intercultural de los Pueblos Originarios, para la autorevalorización y la autorealización desde las dimensiones sociales, materiales y espirituales. 


Que para los Pueblos Originarios, esta ratificación contribuye a la recuperación de sus culturas e identidades, sus formas de vida, salud, educación, cosmovisión y espiritualidad. Reconociendo que para tal propósito El Estado, en conjunto con los Pueblos Originarios y sus organizaciones deben trabajar en una relación de colaboración y coordinación que garantice el disfrute pleno de sus derechos y el cumplimiento de los compromisos internacionales, contribuyendo a la refundación del Estado Salvadoreño que ha sido de carácter histórico monocultural, antropocéntrico y racista; e ir hacia un nuevo Estado descolonizado, intercultural y plurinacional.


La ratificación de esta reforma constitucional, abre la posibilidad de sanar las heridas y saldar la deuda histórica que es urgente y necesaria para los pueblos originarios y el país entero, lo cual implica una verdadera agenda transformadora, constructiva, visionaria y futurista para la efectiva realización del trabajo por la sustentabilidad para el Bien Vivir/Buen Vivir  o el “Tinemi suhsul yek”.  Tal compromiso también requiere y  Lo exigimos enérgicamente: que concretamente se nos devuelvan nuestras tierras y territorios¡¡¡ despojados y saqueados por siglos, ya que los pueblos sin tierras  no podemos garantizar la vida y la recreación de nuestros valores y principios.


Que se cumplan Los Convenios, Tratados y Recomendaciones de las instancias internacionales como Naciones Unidas y que se Firme y se Ratifique El Convenio 169 de la OIT ya que, es un instrumento que se constituirá en un siguiente paso para profundizar en la adopción de medidas que permitan el respeto y restauración de los derechos humanos y particularmente de los Derechos Económicos, Sociales, Ambientales, Civiles, Políticos y Culturales de los pueblos. Así también la restauración de los ecosistemas y la biodiversidad en los territorios para garantizar los Derechos de la Madre Tierra.


Que es innegable que nuestra historia como pueblos originarios ha sido plagada de  etnocidios, racismo, marginación, invisibilización, opresión, represión, explotación, persecución política, empobrecimiento, e instrumentalización como objetos decorativos para el folklor salvadoreño. Por tanto, la ratificación de esta reforma debe convertirse verdaderamente en el comienzo del debido proceso de resarcimiento   de todos los derechos tanto económicos, sociales,  políticos, culturales  y espirituales de todos  los pueblos. 


Que la práctica y orientación de todos estos aspectos son parte clave  para el logro del Bien Vivir/Buen Vivir, principios con los que está comprometida la presente administración de Gobierno de El Salvador, habiendo reiterado tal compromiso en la recién celebrada Cumbre Extraordinaria del G77+China, en Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, junio 14-15. La Cumbre establece compromisos claves a realizar de cara a los procesos internacionales de la ONU, para la agenda Post 2015 y COP20/21.


Consideramos y recomendamos que se  proceda de manera inmediata a la creación de una Ley Especial para los Pueblos Originarios, que propicie el respeto de la vida y destino y que facilite la participación de las organizaciones y comunidades para el diálogo directo con el Estado. Ante esto recomendamos, la creación de un Vice-Ministerio para Asuntos de Pueblos Originarios, como un espacio donde participen las representaciones de organizaciones, pueblos y territorios, haciendo un llamado a que se tomen medidas que eviten todo tipo de instrumentalización, manipulación y/o lucro por parte de ONGs, entidades, o personas, ni en el aspecto económico, o político, en particular para propósitos electorales, ni de falsa representatividad de los movimientos indígenas, tanto dentro como fuera del territorio que hoy se llama El Salvador.


Le tomamos la palabra al ciudadano Presidente de la República de El Salvador, cuando plantea que el Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia es uno de sus referentes para la construcción de la política nacional. Celebramos que la nueva administración de Gobierno asuma el paradigma del Bien Vivir/Buen Vivir para el logro de la sustentabilidad, por tal motivo recomendamos la creación de una instancia de Descolonización, como un aporte para la recuperación de nuestros territorios ancestrales, la identidad de los Pueblos Originarios y la identidad  nacional, los saberes, conocimientos y prácticas ancestrales de las diferentes culturas que habitamos en El Salvador.



Por tanto:

A ustedes muy respetuosamente les solicitamos:

  1. Que se cumplan de manera inmediata los Convenios, Tratados y Recomendaciones de las instancias internacionales como Naciones Unidas y que de igual forma se Firme y  Ratifique El Convenio 169 de la OIT
  2. Creación de el Vice ministerio de Pueblos indígenas y participación de organizaciones y pueblos ancestrales, para la adopción y seguimiento a las políticas públicas interculturales con enfoque de derecho para los pueblos originarios.
  3. Seguimiento a la agenda de pueblos indígenas emanada del primer congreso de pueblos originarios de El Salvador, realizado en Ayagualo en octubre de 2010. (Documento que adjuntamos)
  4. Crear una instancia de descolonización del Estado de El Salvador que garantice el proceso de refundación de un nuevo Estado respetuoso de la cultura de los pueblos originarios para la adopción efectiva del enfoque del Vivir Bien/Buen Vivir.
  5. Crear los mecanismos que permitan el resarcimiento histórico que posibiliten el esclarecimiento de los hechos del genocidio y etnocidio de 1932 y otras masacres anteriores y posteriores a esta y la reparación de los daños a los pueblos indígenas afectados.
  6. Crear los mecanismos y las Comisiones idóneas que permitan la devolución de las tierras y territorios a los pueblos indígenas de manera urgente e inmediata para que las comunidades tengan el acceso a la tierra que por siglos se nos ha negado y que constituye una deuda histórica para los pueblos originarios.
  7. Exigimos que de inmediato se adopten medidas para bajar las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero a nivel nacional y optar por los mecanismos de negociación a nivel de la COP-20 para que se reduzcan las emisiones a nivel mundial por parte de los países industrializados, sin prestarse a las trampas de las falsas soluciones de los mercados de carbono que promueve el Banco Mundial y los países industrializados.
  8. Tomar medidas inmediatas ante la crisis alimentaria como efecto del cambio climático, la sequia por la falta de lluvia que afectan directamente a las comunidades, territorios, indígenas y campesinos y todos los pueblos pobres que habitamos en El Salvador.
  9. Para los pueblos ancestrales el agua es un elemento sagrado que debe ser protegido y respetado y además es un elemento inherente al derecho a la vida, por lo tanto reivindicamos el uso, el goce y el usufructo de los mantos acuíferos en nuestros territorios.
  10. Rechazamos totalmente el condicionamiento que el Gobierno de Estados Unidos   de Norte América realiza para que a la compañía MONSANTO se le permita la liberación para la comercialización y el consumo de las semillas transgénicas y los 53 productos tóxicos prohibidos por la ONU a cambio de los fondos de FOMILENIO II, de igual forma rechazamos la forma impuesta del mismo FOMILENIO, ya que no se aplico el principio de la consulta libre, previa e informada, tampoco se aplico la ley sobre la consulta ambiental y social para la inversión de FOMILENIO II.



Dado a los 9 días del mes de agosto de 2014

Atte. Coordinadora Nacional de los pueblos Originarios de El Salvador CNPOES


Que vivan las primeras naciones¡¡





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The Human Rights Council acts against corporate impunity!

This Press Release, launched by the CETIM announces a good news!

find the original version here:

Historic : the Human Rights Council decides to launch negotiations on new binding international norms concerning the human rights responsibilities of TNCs !

Geneva, 26 June 2014. The Human Rights Council just adopted a resolution presented by Ecuador and South Africa that establishes an intergovernmental working group with the mandate of developing an international legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations.

“This is a historic decision that can potentially contribute to end the impunity that transnational corporations too often enjoy for the human rights violations committed, in particular in developing countries, and ensure access to justice for the victims of their
activities”, said Melik Özden, Director of the Europe-Third World Centre (CETIM), an organization based in Geneva that has been fighting for many years for new binding norms.

The western countries have attempted till the last minute to oppose this resolution using all means available to pressure other member states of the Human Rights Council. The vote was requested by the US delegation. The resolution was finally adopted by 20 votes in favor, 14 against and 13 abstentions. All western states members of the Human
Rights Council voted against the resolution. The great majority of developing countries, including most of African states as well as China, India and Russia, voted in favor.

“We can only regret the non-constructive attitude ow western countries that choose too privilege the interests of transnational corporations over the protection of human rights”, added M. Özden. “They have also already announced that they will not participate in the work of the intergovernmental working group.”

The working group will held its first session in 2015 to define the elements, the scope, the nature and the form of the future international instrument. “This is only the beginning of the process, but that represents already a big victory for the peoples of the world, and in particular for the victims in developing countries, that have been demanding binding norms to end corporate impunity since many years”, highlighted M. Özden.

While TNCs have a number of binding laws, mechanisms and instruments available to defend their interests, only voluntary codes of conducts and soft laws exist to control their impacts on human rights and ensure access to justice for the victims of their activities. “It was time for the Human Rights Council to act to correct this asymmetry in the international system that affects primarily the poorest and weakest countries”, said M. Özden

Since several months hundreds of civil society organizations and social movements in the Global North as in the Global South are mobilizing to support this initiative. A number of them gathered in Geneva for a week of mobilization from 23 to 27 June. Many delegates
from the Global South and representatives of the victims came to demand new binding norms to end corporate impunity. The CETIM has been strongly involved together with the Global campaign to dismantle corporate power and stop impunity. The cases of Chevron in Ecuador, Coca Cola in Colombia, Shell in Nigeria, Glencore-Xstrata in the
Philippines, and Oceana Gold in El Salvador, among others, have been presented to demonstrate the need for a new international instrument “In 60 years of oil exploitation in the Niger Delta, local communities have known no rest”, said Godwin Ojo, of Friends of the Earth Nigeria.
“Shell has systematically violated human rights and destroyed the environment as well as the livelihoods of communities but neither international campaigns nor national laws and regulation agencies have been able to end those practices. This level of impunity demonstrate the need for a binding international instrument that forces TNCs to
respect human rights.”

“In 26 years of oil exploitation in the Ecuadorian amazon, Chevron has polluted more than 450’000 hectares of one of the planet’s richest biodiversity regions, destroying the living and subsistence of its inhabitants” explained Pablo Fajardo, defensor and representative of
the victims of Chevron in Ecuador. “And after 21 years of litigation and in spite of a sentence of the Ecuadorian justice, Chevron still refuses to pay. And in the meanwhile, the victims of its activities in Ecuador are still waiting for justice and compensation”, he added. “Voluntary codes of conduct have clearly shown their limits, only a binding international instrument can end the impunity of TNCs.”

“Dozens of union leaders are murdered each year in Colombia with complete impunity” said Javier Correa, president of the union Sinaltrainal in Colombia. “In the case of Sinaltrainal, 23 of our affiliates working for Coca Cola or Nestlé have been murdered in the
past years. And those TNCs use complex schemes of subsidiaries, subcontractors and franchises to escape justice. The Colombian justice is not doing its job and courts in the US and Switzerland, where those two TNCs have their headquarters, refuse to hear the cases”, he added. “Only binding international norms will enable us to hold TNCs accountable for their crimes in Colombia”.

The journey will still be long but today, and after nearly 40 years of discussions and failed attempts at the United Nations, the process is finally launched! The CETIM would like to congratulate the governments of Ecuador and South Africa for their leadership, as well as all other states that voted in favor of that resolution in spite of the numerous
pressures received.

Contact: Laurent Gaberell, CETIM,, 076 379 39 21

– Europe-Third World Centre (CETIM)
For more information see the CETIM’s newsletter n° 47 and n°43, the Critical report n°10 and the Booklet n°2.

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The success story of KRAPAVIS: Sacred Forests and Rainwater Harvesting in Rajasthan, India


Johad at Bakhtpura village (India) A johad is a dam that collects rainwater to channel it into the ground to replenish the supply of underground water

This Story of KRAPAVIS shows the potential of eco-tipping points as points of departure for success stories. Read more here:

Aman Singh
KRAPAVIS (Krishi Avam Paristhitiki Vikas Sansthan) – Member of the ICCA Consortium

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Judges travel to the Amazon for public hearing on Yaigoje Apaporis and gold mining


Yaigoje Apaporis Park
Credit: Asociacion de Capitanes Indí­genas Yaigoje Apaporis

Posted by Fiona, the Gaia Foundation, 4th February 2014
Three members of the Constitutional Court have made an unprecedented trip to the heart of the Amazon forest, to settle a three-year legal battle on the future of Colombia’s third largest National Park, which was established to protect indigenous territories from gold mining. Our partner, Gaia Amazonas, accompanied the judges for a public hearing with the indigenous communities on the future of the Yaigojé-Apaporis National Park.

Back in 2010, Gaia reported on how the floodgates had opened for mining concessions in the Colombian Amazon. We were especially concerned about Yaigojé Apaporis, an indigenous resguardo (legally-recognised, collectively-owned territory), which was declared a National Natural Park at the request of the indigenous communities living there. We now bring you the latest dramatic twist in this story of indigenous communities and the National Parks authority joining forces to defend Amazon indigenous territory and sacred natural sites.

Yaigojé-Apaporis, a breath-taking area of tropical forest in the lower Apaporis River, eastern Colombian Amazon, is home to some of Colombia’s most traditional indigenous groups, the Makuna, Tanimuka, Tuyuca, Cabiyari, Letuama, Yauna and Yujup-Maku, among others. From around 2007, their resguardo, including the sacred natural site known as Yuisi (or “La Libertad” rapids), came under threat from mining companies. Gaia circulated a special report by Gaia Amazonas detailing the concern of the indigenous communities to protect Yuisi, the forest and their very existence.

The local indigenous organization, ACIYA, representing the indigenous communities of the resguardo, requested the Colombian National Parks authority to establish a national park, but under a special agreement respecting their autonomy and traditional practices for safeguarding the forest. Yaigojé-Apaporis became Colombia’s 55th national park, and one of the country’s largest national protected areas, in October 2009.

“We have collective ownership [of our ancestral territory]… but that only protects a metre below the ground – what we use to grow – and not deep underground. And when the disease comes from the white world, as with mining, medicine is to be found right there. So we sought an alliance that could safeguard the territory, and that was how the national park was born”, says the leader Gerardo Macuna, Centro Providencia.

Just days afterwards, the Canadian company Cosigo Resources received permission for a mining consession to extract gold. Their only obstacle was that protected area status effectively meant that mining could not take place. This did not deter them, and Gaia highlighted the case in its report “Yaigoje-Apaporis, threatened by gold mining“. Things took a turn for the worse some months later, when leaders from 5 of the indigenous communities placed a legal challenge to the establishment of the National Park, claiming that due process and consultation had not taken place. For three years the case has sat with the Constitutional Court as to whether or not the Yaigojé-Apaporis does have protected area status – the only obstacle to Cosigo Resources’s plans for gold mining. For three years, the indigenous orgaisation ACIYA, the Colombian National Parks authority under the leadership of Julia Miranda Londoño, and Gaia Amazonas have requested that the mining concession for Cosigo Resources be revoked.

It is not often that judges travel to the home of those who have put forward a legal challenge, and even less so when this means travelling deep into the Amazon. But last Friday, 31st January, three judges from the Consitutional Court – Gabriel Mendoza, Nilson Pinilla and Jorge Iván Palacio – travelled to the Makuna maloca (community longhouse) of Centro Providencia. They were accompanyed by Paul Vieira (Deputy Minister from the Environment), Julia Miranda Londoño (Director, National Parks), representatives of the Presidency, the Attorney, the Ministry of Interior and the Public Ombudsman, in addition to Gaia Amazonas Foundation and the Natural Heritage Fund. The logistics were complex – judges and government officials traveled by military plane to the village of La Pedrera and there caught a Black Hawk helicopter to Centro Providencia (after flying over the territory and an aerial view of the sacred falls at Yuisi), while others made the six-hour canoe trip and two hours walk. Hundreds of indigenous inhabitants from small communities that are scattered alongside the Apaporis region, also travelled to witness the hearing. The decision that is taken may change their lives for ever.

“We decided to go there because there is no justice unless we know what they think the communities”, said the president of the Court, Jorge Iván Palacio. Palacio explained that the Constituional Court tries not to decide from a desk in Bogota when it comes to ethnic communities in Colombia.

And in the midst of the public hearing something unexpected happened, something that was suspected but no one had been able to prove. The indigenous community leader who was main signatory to the legal challenge, publicly admitted that his legal strategy was organized and paid for by the Canadian company Cosigo Resources, which cannot exploit its mining permit while the area remains protected. For many, it was nothing new to hear about the pressure from Cosigo Resources in the region – they had tried to sabotage the process of consultation that preceded the declaration of the Park, and tried to place their own legal challenge to the creation of the protected area. There were rumours that the mining company had invited several indigenous community leaders and their families to Bogotá, and convinced them that they should challenge the declaration of the park. But these were just rumors, until this spontaneous confession in front of the Constitutional Court judges.

It gave a dramatic twist to the case, which the Court still has to decide on. It could be seen as an acid test of mining policy in the Amazon.

More info:

38 titles were awarded for mining in national parks in Colombia under President Alvaro Uribe.

Yaigojé-Apaprois is in the so-called Taraira Golden Belt in the Colombian Amazon, described by Cosigo as “potentially one of the largest unexplored gold districts in the world”, comparing it to the Witwatersrand that punctuated the development of South Africa in the late nineteenth century.

Between 2007 and 2009 pre-consultation on creating the park was carried out with the local indigenous communities – from Makuna, Tanimuka, Tuyuca, Cabiyari, Letuama, Yauna and Yujup-Maku ethnic groups – thanks to funding from the Moore Foundation and Gaia Amazonas led by anthropologist Martin von Hildebrand.

The Canadian explorer Wade Davis, who wrote the book “The River” on his journey through the Amazon, said: “A mine in Apaporis is like a well of oil in the Sistine Chapel”.

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