How local communities are defending community consent in mining, oil & gas projects in southern Africa

Mining companies and governments need to understand and respect the right to free, prior, and informed consent. The lives of activists are on the line. New research shows how more and more communities are finding ways to take action to protect their customary land rights and defend their rights to give or withhold consent to mining, oil, gas, and other development projects.

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25 September 2018

Full report

Author: Oxfam & Legal Resources Centre (So. Africa)

"Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the extractive industries in Southern Africa"

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25 September 2018

How to use customary land rights to stop the killing of land rights activists, including those against development projects

Author: Scott Sellwood, Oxfam

"What will it take to stop the killing of land rights activists?"

Last year, at least 207 land and environmental activists across 22 countries were reportedly killed for defending their lands, waters, and homes. That is almost four killings a week. It is the worst year on record...These land and environmental activists are targeted for demanding a say in whether—and, if so, how—mining, oil, gas, and other large development projects affect their communities. Many of these activists represent populations that depend on the land for subsistence and cultural survival...

FPIC is not only a right, but a best practice for sustainable development and conflict mitigation. FPIC ensures that local communities, not only those who self-identify as indigenous, have a say in decisions that affect them, a critical step for reducing social tension, cultural upheaval, and economic instability. This is particularly true in Southern Africa, where local communities are demanding that companies and governments recognize and defend their power to say no to mining...

New research published by South Africa’s Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and Oxfam examines the laws and policies relevant to community consent, and the challenges to implementing those rights, in MalawiMozambiqueSouth AfricaZambia, and Zimbabwe...LRC provides country specific recommendations for how the implementation of customary land protections can be strengthened. A number of recommendations stand out:

  • Women’s equal rights to land tenure as well as their effective participation in consent processes must be guaranteed (custom cannot be used to deny gender justice).
  • Full and timely disclosure of all information about the likely impacts and benefits of a project. (Without this, communities cannot make fully informed decisions.)
  • Decisions of traditional leaders cannot be assumed to reflect the consensus views of all community members.
  • Adequate financial and human resources are needed so that government departments can coordinate effectively, properly assess projects in terms of social and environmental requirements, and enforce compliance with laws and policies.

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