Environmental protection is a major concern in postmodern society. With innovation and development as a goal, human beings have an important impact in nature.
One of the most invasive man-nature relationships is the exploitation and extraction of mineral resources. These activities cause striking transformations to the ecosystems, and to the social context of surrounding communities.
This setting constitutes a homogeneous reality present in countries like Peru, Tanzania, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Tunisia and Canada, and it has now become a global problem. In order to solve it, one must appeal to the application of the principles of Global Justice.
The Theory of Global Justice is a theoretical framework that makes use of the concept of distributive justice. Distributive justice is a theory put forward principally by John Rawls (1999) to whom “Justice is happiness according to virtue.”
It is necessary to mention that justice is a polysemic term. In a theological sense, it is intrinsically related to the attainment of common good. Justice is then complex, since it varies depending on the person, institution, and context in question. It incarnates economic, political and juridical dimensions.
When talking about distributive justice, these dimensions will vary depending on the approach used. Distributive justice has developed a series of principles to be taken into account. Some of them are the liberty and independence of peoples, the legality of establishing treaties to solve conflicts, the obligation of respecting human rights, and representation.
These concepts will allow the partners participating in this project to identify the common thread guiding Indigenous communities to demand the respect for environmental rights in the territories they inhabit. It is important to mention that the communities seek to ensure environmental justice, in order to protect the value of nature, without necessarily considering nature’s usefulness to human beings.
It is worth mentioning that this international research partnership was created thanks to support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
This partnership’s mission is to investigate conflict resolution systems between extractive/exploratory companies and communities in each one of the participating countries, from a juridical and social standpoint.
Considering the intimate relationship between Earth and culture in the communities under study, the partners will analyze the main problems, challenges and consequences of the conflict resolution systems, using current casework. This includes Hudbay Minerals’ Constancia Mine in Peru, Paramo Santurban and the Atrato River in Colombia, the Innu communities in Canada, the Belo Sun case in Brazil, and the Cardones case in Mexico, amongst other cases.
The partnership has these objectives to analyze:
• The problems faced by Indigenous peoples and local communities with Canadian extractive companies in their territory;
• Conflict mechanism, methods and management developed by extractive companies and cultural communities involved in each one of the countries partnered in the investigation;
• The fundamental rights of the communities, and the new eco-centered perspective on the protection of nature’s rights;
• The creation of new mechanisms for dispute prevention and resolution.