Open Letter on Mining to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau
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As activists, Latin American organizations and networks, along with international groups and organizations that have partners in Latin America, we are aware of and concerned about the human rights violations committed by Canadian mining companies operating in the region. On the basis of our experience, we offer the following observations and recommendations, as we share certain universal principles of human rights and justice that transcend borders.
In light of early indications of concern for human rights from your administration, we urge the adoption of workable measures to promote legislative and administrative reforms that will more effectively regulate the operations of Canadian mining companies around the world. In particular, we recommend an immediate change in existing policies in order to:
Ensure Canadian mining companies operating in Latin America do so in conformity with the international human rights standards established in treaties, which apply to both host countries and to Canada. In recognition of the increasing number of mining conflicts in the region, it is vital that the Canadian government and Canadian mining companies respect the rights of Indigenous communities to self- determination and to free, prior, and informed consent before any mining activities are undertaken on their territories.
Respect the decisions of numerous communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who have said no to large-scale mining because of its severe damaging impacts on the environment and social wellbeing.
Implement the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 2005.
End Canadian intervention and the provision of any kind of governmental support, be it through overseas development aid, trade, and investment agreements, public financing or technical assistance, or diplomacy that seeks to influence the adoption or modification of regulatory frameworks in recipient countries for extractive projects.
Incorporate international human rights and transparency standards in the regulation of credit agencies and public and private investment that finance extractive activities and impose safeguards on companies that receive state subsidies.
Guarantee effective access to Canadian courts so that victims of human rights violations caused by Canadian businesses abroad can obtain justice, truth, and reparations.
Create objective and impartial mechanisms to effectively monitor and investigate complaints of individual and collective human rights violations in connection with Canadian mining companies abroad. These mechanisms should be designed in conformity with the Paris Principles regarding the status and functions of national human rights institutions.
End the pursuit of free trade and investment agreements that favor the protection and promotion of Canadian mining companies over individual and collective human rights, as well as environmental protection.
Refrain from promoting international arbitration mechanisms, which is a powerful tool to shield foreign investments that profit from the absence of effective accountability measures aimed at preventing human rights violations.
After many years of a lack of will to dialogue and an absence of critical self-evaluation by previous governments, we are hopeful that your commitment to human rights will lead to measures that hold state agencies and corporations to account and prevent further abuses by Canadian mining companies operating abroad. Such measures would earn Canada greater recognition as a nation that respects human rights.