For Human Rights Beyond Borders

Human Rights have been locked up behind domestic bars to prevent their universal application to globalization and its much needed regulation. Extraterritorial obligations (ETOs) unlock human rights.

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Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal: Canadian State shares responsibility for mining-related human rights violations in Latin America

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) recently published the verdict from its first session on the impact of Canadian mining in Latin America, which took place in Montreal, Canada, from May 29 to June 1, 2014. The PPT jury determined that five Canadian mining companies and the Government of Canada were responsible for multiple cases of human rights violations, including labour rights violations, denial of indigenous self-determination rights, environmental destruction, targeted assassinations, and criminalization of dissent.

Referring to the Maastricht Principles, the jury reiterated Canada’s extraterritorial obligations to protect human rights and its liability “for acts and omissions that bring about foreseeable effects on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, whether within or outside its territory”. According to the verdict, the documentation and testimonies presented during the hearing demonstrated that significant government support - political and economic - was extended to Canadian mining companies through embassies, development agencies, export credit agencies and the State pension fund “without being conditional upon any requirements regarding compliance with human rights standards”. There was also clear evidence that “the Canadian state is fully informed of the high risks of rights violations and environmental damage associated with mining activity.”

The jury made a series of general recommendations to the Canadian State, the host States, and the mining companies. It called on the Canadian State to “assume its responsibility to protect human rights” and “adopt measures to ensure that companies under its jurisdiction do not violate the exercise of these rights”. Moreover, the State should make its public support to companies conditional on their respect for human rights and environmental standards, and adopt measures to enable access to justice for victims.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) is an international initiative of the Lelio Basso Foundation which aims to promote the recognition and application of international law related to indigenous and human rights.

Read the summary of the verdict in our library (EN, FR, ES)

More information on the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal session on Canadian mining can be found here