Commentary: Gov'ts & businesses must listen to communities to address human rights abuses related to resource extraction in the Pacific

Author: Amy Sinclair, New Matilda, Published on: 21 May 2018

"The Tyranny Of Distance: Corporate Harm On The Frontline In The Pacific," 18 May 2018

The natural wealth of Pacific nations is disappearing overseas. Unseen and unheard, the voices of Pacific Island communities on the frontline of deforestation, irresponsible mining and seabed exploitation are being overlooked and human rights abuses are going unchecked in remote rural regions. Voices from the Pacific need lifting to overcome the tyranny of distance and ensure that businesses operating in the region respect human rights... Previously untouched, many Pacific Island countries are poised to experience escalating exploitation by foreign-owned companies headquartered in Australia, China, Malaysia and Indonesia... The activities of foreign-owned extractive companies can be hugely damaging to local communities, with few benefits flowing... Licences... have led to widespread deforestation in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Deforestation rates in both these nations are amongst the highest rates globally, fuelling an international trade in illegal timber... The voices of affected communities, often isolated by great distances and limited means of communication, are going unheard.

... With stakeholders working together – communities, governments, the UN and business itself – a fairer pattern of economic development can be achieved in the Pacific... Local communities and their advocates need greater access to international frameworks and mechanisms such as UN and OECD complaints procedures, as well as to local, regional and international civil society networks.

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