Salvadorans Warn Canadians about World Bank's Kangaroo Court
Date Written: 16/05/2015
Year Published: 2015
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX17758
In anticipation of an imminent ruling from the World Bank's little known investor-state arbitration tribunal that could force El Salvador to pay Canadian mining firm OceanaGold US$301 million, a Salvadoran delegation is in Canada to discuss how this arbitration process threatens democratic decision making, public health and the environment here and beyond.
OceanaGold (originally Pacific Rim) is suing El Salvador for an amount equivalent to the countrys 3-year budget for health, education, and public security for not having granted it a permit to put a gold mine into operation, despite its project not having met regulatory requirements and despite a broad-based consensus in El Salvador rejecting large-scale mining. Filed in 2009, this ICSID suit is taking place in an undemocratic, closed door arbitration tribunal and could undermine El Salvador's sovereignty and right to legislate social and environmental policies in the public's interests. For example, a proposed legislative ban on mining has been stalled in the Salvadoran legislature for years, partly due to government fears of further suits in response.
Meanwhile, mining-affected communities lack access to justice for the harms that they have faced. Neither are their appeals on human rights and environmental grounds considered relevant in the strictly commercial ICSID tribunal system. In response, communities are beginning to rebuild sovereignty from the ground up with municipal plebiscites to declare themselves free of mining.