A just future based on a lower demand for mining and on respect for human rights and ecological justice (including the rights of nature*) where mining does take place.
We undertake research and action for human rights and environmental justice in partnership with communities resisting, or affected by, the operations of London-based or London-financed mining companies around the world. We aim to tackle impunity and hold the mining industry to account, end unethical corporate practice, and to create an alternative narrative which respects the diverse cultures and cosmologies of the people with whom we work.
Frontline voices: Our work is led by the needs and concerns of the people affected by or potentially affected by the activities of mining companies. We work to strengthen their capacity to amplify their voices and to place their needs and concerns centre stage.
Solidarity: We are committed to facilitating the development and strengthening of networks of solidarity with and between people whose land, cultures, livelihoods, health and wellbeing, workplace and other rights are threatened by the activities of mining companies.
Collaboration and teamwork: We work collaboratively as part of a formal network and also as part of several dynamic and changing informal networks of NGOs, community organisations, voluntary groups, concerned individuals, and others.
Environmental Stewardship and Just Transition: We understand that we are part of nature and that we must live within the ecological limits of our planet. We seek to promote a just transition to a sustainable and fair post-extractivist society that ensures that future generations will benefit, not suffer, from the practices of our generation.
Personal and planet: We encourage everyone involved with LMN to consider their well-being and support each other, and to consider the well-being of the planet and others with whom we share it.
Respectful: We value the opinions, expertise and diversity that people bring to LMN, and treat each other with respect, dignity and common courtesy regardless of background, culture, lifestyle or position.
Empowerment: We encourage everyone involved with LMN, whether they be workers, consultants, volunteers, supporters or representatives of communities with whom we are working, to share ideas, gain skills and knowledge and to involve themselves in our decision-making processes and to feel they are part of making change happen.
Honesty and transparency: We are accountable at all levels of our work, to ensure that we are effective in our actions and open in our communications with others. We regularly evaluate our activities and welcome dialogue and constructive criticism.
With these values, we have supported communities to say ‘no’ to mining projects, hold companies accountable and we coordinate a network of mining justice organisations, playing an integral role in extractives campaigning.
LMN believes that the people who should have the decisive voice with regard to mining projects are the people most directly impacted by them – yet their voices are often ignored. One of our most important tasks, therefore, is to ensure that the voices of communities resisting mining, communities seeking justice from companies for the consequences of existing projects, communities developing alternatives to mining, and mining workers in dispute with companies, are heard by the boards, shareholders, investors and insurers of the companies and by members of the public in Britain.
We seek to promote and share communities’ ways of understanding the world and support their development models.
*What do we at London Mining Network mean by the Rights of Nature?
There are varying understandings of the Rights of Nature. The following is how LMN understands it:
The Rights of Nature are rooted in the conviction that all living entities possess inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve naturally and free from harm, by virtue of them existing and being alive. Our current anthropocentric legal system recognises the rights of human beings and some other entities (such as corporations) but not those of Nature, upon which all life depends.
The concept of the Rights of Nature arises from indigenous world views. Theories of the Rights of Nature have been further developed by environmental thinkers, such as Thomas Berry.
A Rights of Nature legal system seeks to regulate relations between all members of the Earth community. This is in stark contrast to legal systems where Nature is treated as “property.” In such systems, environmental laws actually legalize environmental harm by regulating how much pollution or destruction of Nature can occur within the law in order to protect property, human and corporate rights.
While our existing environmental laws help slow the destruction of Nature, they are inadequate to foster the change necessary to preserve all life on Earth. One reason is that they operate to protect human use and enjoyment of the natural world, rather than protecting Nature for its own sake. Another reason is that our environmental laws take a threshold perspective, defining how much we can pollute and exploit, without ever considering a positive goal of thriving, healthy ecosystems.
Many rights-based laws focus on balancing the conflicting rights of humans, including corporations. Under Rights of Nature, these mediations could now include the natural environment.
Some individual countries and communities have made a start with powerful, precedent-setting laws.
- Ecuador granted legal rights to Nature in its 2008 Constitution.
- Bolivia’s 2010 Law on the Rights of Mother Earth spells out these rights and humans’ responsibilities to protect natural systems.
- Local communities in the US, such as Pittsburgh in its battles against fracking, have embedded the right for Nature to exist and flourish within their municipal constitutions.
- In 2013, Earth Law Center helped the city of Santa Monica recognize “both the rights of natural communities and ecosystems” in its Sustainability Bill of Rights.
- New Zealand set incredible precedent in 2017 when the Whanganui river, through a decades-long effort by the Maori, was declared a legal person. They also appointed legal guardians to enforce the rights and interests of the Whanganui.
- Colombia’s court system recognized the legal rights of the Atrato River and also the entire Colombian Amazon rainforest in a separate decision.
Some international institutions have also started to recognise the Rights of Nature.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Resolution 100 (2012) “[incorporates] the Rights of Nature as the organizational focal point in IUCN’s decision making.”
- In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly began the Harmony with Nature programme that has been steadily building momentum with a series of Interactive Dialogues since 2011.
- The Inter-American Court of Human Rights supported a Rights of Nature approach in Advisory Opinion OC-23/17 of November 15, 2017, declaring for the first time that the right to a healthy environment constitutes an autonomous right.
There is still concern from some that Rights of Nature will be used to infringe on indigenous and other rights. This dynamic has played out, for example, in the development of National Parks that exclude Indigenous Peoples who once occupied those lands. In order to avoid the racist exploitation of Nature’s rights, it must be developed hand-in-hand with indigenous rights and the rights of other traditionally marginalized peoples.
- In countries where Rights of Nature is already recognized – Ecuador, Bolivia, and in a growing number of instances in New Zealand, Colombia, and elsewhere – the Rights of Nature can be used in advocacy, legal actions, and other methods of blocking or mitigating destructive mining projects.
- Rights of Nature’s more holistic approach to decision-making considers what the natural ecosystem needs to regain and maintain health. This could be used in considering which mining projects to approve or disapprove, under what conditions, and to require the full restoration of all ecosystems harmed by mining.
- The rights and interests of Nature, as represented by legal guardians, can be considered before approving any mining projects. Both impacted communities and Nature itself – in the person of the legal guardians – should give free, prior, and informed consent to mining projects. Indigenous Peoples must be legally recognised as guardians of Nature and their traditional knowledge and stewardship used to guide decisions on mining projects.