I did not have time to watch more than an hour or so of the hearings in the arbitration between Pacific Rim and the government of El Salvador which took place on May 31 and June 1 in Washington, D.C. Luckily, the folks behind the
Voices from El Salvador blog were watching and wrote a thoughtful summary of day 1 and day 2. The writer summed up what could be gleaned from these formal legal proceedings:
I found these hearings interesting on a couple levels. Much of what we hear about the mining debate comes from grassroots organizations that support the anti-mining movement in El Salvador. While the information we receive is important and interesting, too often we don’t know what is happening within the government ministries, or what Pacific Rim is really thinking. We see how their decisions manifest in Cabanas, but we don’t necessarily see the process. These hearings have been a window into what the Salvadoran government and Pacific Rim have been doing and thinking over the years. Granted, the information that we are getting is filtered through legal teams and the facts have been methodically organized to support legal arguments, but its more than we’ve gotten in the past.
The archived video recordings of the hearings continue to be available at this link. At least this part of the process has been transparent for all to see.
The Voice from El Salvador blog also republished an article Thinking Twice About A Gold Rish: Pacific Rim v El Salvador, by Gus Van Harten, an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto. Van Harten takes a careful look at the policy issues involved in having private arbitrators make decisions regarding the environmental policy decisions of a sovereign government. The tensions he describes are being played out in the Pacific Rim case.