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Holding Mining Companies Accountable

Contamination of food and water, forced labour, cancer and lung disease, environmental degradation, armed conflict . . . the list of human rights violations caused by the extractive industries is long and unacceptable.

The Post-2015 sustainable development agenda must transform resource extraction, the violence it causes and the development model that promotes it, writes Kathryn Tobin of the Mining Working Group at the UN (MWG), a civil society coalition working in 27 countries.

But how should a country or community determine whether a new extraction project should be allowed to go ahead?

To answer this question, the MWG has developed a Rights-Based Litmus Test for policy-makers – based on states' international obligations – which has four basic principles:

  • Do No Harm
  • Eradicate Poverty
  • People Are Rights-Holders, Be People Centred, 
  • Promote a Sustainable World, for current and future generations

The litmus test, which contains a series of questions related to each principle, can also be used by civil society to assess current and proposed projects.

The Mining Working Group, which includes the Feminist Task Force, has also submitted feedback to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, including proposals that there be Zero Targets on

  • Dumping of toxic materials in water bodies (with full legal and financial accountability and remedy for transgressions)
  • Harm done by extractive industries in vital watershed areas
  • Extractive activities in vital ecosystem and biodiverse rich areas and in territories of indigenous peoples, farming and fishing communities

The MWG also proposes that inequalities be addressed by 2030 by cutting in half the social, economic and income disparities between the world's wealthiest 1% and the bottom 40%.

You can read a full list of the MWG's proposals to the Open Working Group here as well as download the Rights-Based Litmus Test in an advocacy brief entitled, “A Rights-Based Approach to Resource Extraction in the Pursuit of Sustainable Development”.

Mining Working Group - OWG Focus Areas.pdf197.11 KB