Promoting better policy and citizen agency in the mining sector
The mining sector is booming in many countries across the global South. Governments, communities and civil society organisations are mobilising to reshape the landscape of mineral extraction in diverse ways. IIED’s legal tools team is promoting citizen agency in the mining sector through policy analysis, action research and socio-legal empowerment work.
Senior associate (law, economies and justice programme), Natural Resources
Despite decades of research and action to ‘reverse the resource curse (PDF)’, whether there has been progress is a moot point.
Mineral extraction is largely failing to contribute to inclusive and equitable outcomes – especially in the dozens of resource-dependent countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. And mining’s ‘discontents’ – unequal distribution of benefits, dispossession of natural resources, breaches of human rights – still stand in the way of the wellbeing of many communities.
The gains in awareness and transparency in the sector, including new widely adopted global norms, have yet to lead to concrete improvements in the lives of many communities impacted by mineral extraction or generate greater accountability for the citizens that ‘own’ and must benefit from natural resource endowments.
With growing pressure on resources and increased scrutiny of business as usual, people are mobilising for serious change in the mining sector.
What is IIED doing?
Supporting civil society organisations to improve mining sector governance
Civil society organisations (CSOs) play a critical role in channelling the concerns and supporting the agency of communities affected by mineral extraction to actively shape policies governing the mining sector. The legal tools team is involved in a variety of activities to assist CSOs:
- In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we are supporting African Resources Watch (Afrewatch) to conduct field research and policy analysis, to disseminate research findings and to mobilise artisanal miners to defend their rights in the cobalt sector.
- In Mali, we are supporting the Publish What You Pay Coalition to influence the design and implementation of the new mining law – with a focus on artisanal mining, taxation of large-scale mining and governance of the newly created local development funds.
- In Guinea, the Collective of Civil Society Organisations for the Defence of Community Rights is contesting harmful forced displacement and resettlement in the mining sector. We are supporting the members’ advocacy efforts to pass regulations that would limit resettlement and oblige companies and the government to pay adequate compensation to victims.
Conducting policy research and reporting
We produce policy analysis on critical and overlooked themes relevant to the mining sector:
- We partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to produce a briefing note (PDF) on how best practice guidelines to protect community land rights are relevant to small- and large-scale mining.
- We developed a multimedia project to explore the complexities of investment disputes around large-scale mining in Colombia, addressing issues such as artisanal mining, protected areas, environmental protection, human rights and investor-state dispute settlement.
- We are carrying out policy analysis on extractives in Mali, in collaboration with universities, civil society organisations and governments under our ‘ALIGN: Advancing Land-based Investment Governance’ project.
Designing research tools
In partnership with the Sustainable Development Strategies Group (SDSG) and the Columbia Centre for Sustainable Investment (CCSI), we launched the Community Development in Mining Collection – a catalogue of community development requirements in the mining sector in over 50 countries.
This new research tool aims to increase public access to laws and agreements related to community development obligations in the mining sector. We aim to catalyse greater transparency, public discourse and evidence-based policy advice on design and implementation of new laws.
Islands of responsibility? Corporate sourcing of artisanal cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Publication, 22 September 2021
Transparency in extractive industry legislation: recommendations for Kazakhstan’s Code on Subsurface Use
Publication, 01 November 2015
From legal caravans to revising the Mining Code: Lessons from experience with legal empowerment in communities affected by mining, Mali
Publication, 01 March 2014
Public interest litigation as an empowerment tool: The case of the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust and diamond mining in Zimbabwe
Publication, 01 October 2013
Barefoot lawyers: Defending community resource rights in the Philippines
Publication, 01 August 2012
Blog: Mineral exploration goes unchecked as demand escalates, by Abbi Buxton (February 2022)
People and nature first: safeguards needed in mining exploration, Abbi Buxton (2022), IIED Briefing
Reversing the resource curse through legislative community development, Brendan Schwartz, Kristi Disney Bruckner, Ahamadou Maiga (2021), Publish What You Pay | en français
Briefing note: Tenure rights in large-scale and artisanal mining: Implication of the Tenure Guidelines, Abbi Buxton, Brendan Schwartz, Lorenzo Cotula (2021), FAO
Project: Mapping community development requirements in the mining sector (2021), interactive catalogue
Blog: Unpacking regulatory chill: the case of mining in the Santurbán páramo in Colombia, by Anna Sands (December 2020)
Blog: Foreign investment, knowledge and international arbitration: inside a research trip, by Nicolás Perrone (June 2020)
Blog: Mining reforms have left Colombia’s artisanal miners behind, by Jimena Sierra, Brendan Schwartz (April 2020)
Long read: Investment disputes from below: whose rights matter? Mining, environment and livelihoods in Colombia, Lorenzo Cotula (2020)
Foreign investment, law and sustainable development: a handbook on agriculture and extractive industries, Lorenzo Cotula (2016), Pocketbook
Bringing community perspectives to investor-state arbitration: the Pac Rim case, Thierry Berger, Saúl Baños, Lorenzo Cotula (2015), Research report | en español
Reconfiguring investment contracts to promote sustainable development, Lorenzo Cotula, Kyla Tienhaara (2013), Book chapter