Thursday, March 03, 2011

Grassroots anti-mining movement goes to court

The grassroots environmental coalition in El Salvador, the Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica (Mesa), has filed a friend of the court brief in the international arbitration filed by the Canadian gold mining company Pacific Rim against El Salvador.   The Mesa is represented by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).  The brief makes three central points:

[We] will endeavor to use this submission to make sure that the Tribunal understands that:  (A) the grassroots, peaceful opposition to Pac Rim‟s proposed mine—and the government‟s response to it—were and are entirely legitimate and should be celebrated as a new dawn for representative democracy in El Salvador, not saddled with a hundred-million-dollar price tag; (B) the environmental concerns underlying that opposition were, and are, well-founded, but were not adequately addressed in Pac Rim‟s Environmental Impact Assessment (the “El Dorado EIA”); and (C) Pac Rim‟s involvement in Salvadoran and regional politics in support of its proposed mine has been deeply problematic, and the proposed mine itself has already generated disturbing levels of intra-community conflict and violence.
You can download the full brief here.  The brief makes the argument well that arbitrations under trade agreements should not be allowed to overturn a country's right to develop environmental policy to protect its citizens.  A listing of all court filings in the case is maintained by the government of El Salvador at this link.

In the other arbitration involving gold mining, there may be a decision soon on El Salvador's motion to dismiss the claims of Milwaukee-based Commerce Group.

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