Mining and Water

Mary shares the UNANIMA International office and also represents both the CNDs and UNANIMA on several of the NGO Committees at the UN in New York.

I don’t think Gregoria (who cannot give her full name for legal reasons), from the mountainous region of Guatemala, ever imagined she would be in London, England in October  2009.  She most certainly was not there as a tourist but, together with women from Ecuador and Peru, for a meeting organized by LAMMP (Latin American Mining Monitoring Programme). There, these rural and indigenous women, living in communities affected by mining developments, raised awareness of gender issues related to the severe impacts of mining on their communities: loss of natural resources, including contamination or loss of water; health problems related to the presence of heavy metals and dust released into the environment by mining processes;  the impact of mining on the social structure of such communities, including violence against women, prostitution and trafficking that can be part of the spiral of impoverishment from loss of land and access to natural resources;  and the criminalization of the women if they legitimately resist what is being taken from them when a mine comes into their communities without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

In the draft of our UNANIMA International Framework & Plan of Action on Water, we hold that “…access to life-giving water is a right for all life-forms on the planet.”  In the Mining Working Group of the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the Worlds’ Indigenous Peoples, we are receiving many similar case examples from around the world. They too document effects of the absence of FPIC, which is enshrined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  It is clear that while indigenous wisdom and now science confirm the profound interconnectedness of all creation, that relationship is greatly threatened and we must work to restore it.

Mary Corbett, CND