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Executive Summary, written by Tierra Digna, about their recently published research ” Whose Security and Human Rights? Voluntarism and militarization, extractive companies’ strategies to control territories.”
Much has been said and written about “global governance” and “post-conflict” in Colombia. For instance, the national government embraced the UN Guiding Principles in 2014. Meanwhile, the peace negotiation process between Juan Manuel Santos’ government and the FARC guerillas is expected to result in an agreement in the near future. However, transnational corporations (TNCs) in the coal and gold mining sectors have increasingly implemented extraction and exploration projects throughout the country. Such incursions have been accompanied by a very particular practice: TNCs have paid local military battalions billions of US dollars (under government supervision) in order to secure their operations, infrastructure and personnel.
Simultaneously, TNCs such as AngloGold Ashanti, Glencore and Anglo American have entered voluntary human rights initiatives, supposedly aiming to align their practices with international human rights and humanitarian law. Other companies, such as Drummond or Goldman Sachs’ coalmines, have shown no real interest in entering these voluntary initiatives. Having accompanied many communities affected by these companies’ operations in Colombia, we asked: who really benefits from the unusual marriage between voluntary human rights initiatives and security contracts between TNCs and the national army?
Voluntarism and militarization, extractive companies’ strategies to control territories is Tierra Digna’s latest report on Business and Human Rights. In it, we analyze the above mentioned phenomena using four methods. First, we look at the appearance and development of voluntary business and human rights initiatives in Colombia from the early 2000s through 2015 to reveal the intimate relationship between security contracts and voluntary guidelines for TNCs. Second, we summarize the historic role that Colombia’s armed forces have played in securing territories with large mining reserves. In so doing, we scrutinize the legitimacy of current security contracts using legal precedent.
Third, we provide three in-depth case studies of communities heavily impacted by mining TNCs. In these studies, we expose the devastating effects of extractivism and explain why security contracts in each region embody a risk for human rights and people’s safety. Finally, we cross-reference all previous analyses to argue that the current Colombian policy on business and human rights (a top-down, corporate-driven and militarization-focused initiative) sidelines communities dealing with mining’s worst social and environmental impacts. We conclude by offering a series of detailed and action-oriented recommendations for the international community, the Colombian government and global civil society.
Read the entire report (only available in Spanish, but with recommendations in English).