Justice in Mining at South Africa’s Global Forum

Justice in Mining

Nine members of the Justice in Mining network have travelled last week to Johannesburg to participate in the Thematic Social Forum on Mining and the Extractivist Economy.

The Justice in Mining representatives joined more than 300 delegates from faith-based and community groups around the globe to discuss issues arising from mining activity, including environmental damage and human rights abuses.

Julie Edwards, the global leader of Justice in Mining, said: “We see this as an exciting opportunity to forge relationships with other organisations operating in this field and thereby strengthen our own advocacy work. Mining projects are frequently international in nature, involving large corporations headquartered in one jurisdiction with operations in another. It follows that collaborating with our peers internationally can enhance the effectiveness of our Network.”

Alicia Aleman Arrastio, Europe’s representative, described the first day: “the delegates coming from all corners of the world have joined this powerful cry and the loud chants and dances of our South African hosts in the dark but cheerful building called the Music Factory in Johannesburg.”

“The day has been intense, both intellectually and emotionally, for all of us. We have heard the struggles of peoples and communities affected by mining and extractives industries: their dreams, strategies, failures, disappointments and victories.”

Julie Edwards, leader of the Justice in Mining Network

Justice in Mining is one of four Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks set up by the Society of Jesus following General Congregation 35 in 2008. It supports and advocates on behalf of local communities affected by mining activities, and lobbies on human rights issues where appropriate. The Network recognises that the materials extracted via mining are used in a variety of useful and positive ways, but also urges society to be prudent its use of the earth’s resources.

The nine Justice in Mining delegates represented every Jesuit region, and contributed with local perspectives and experience to discussions at the forum. They have also presented a workshop highlighting the Ignatian approach to advocacy and drawing on field experience of members from Mexico, Democratic Republic of Congo and India. “We have already seen the benefits of networking across the Society of Jesus,” Ms Edwards said. “By connecting with other advocates we take this networking to the next level.”

The Thematic Social Forum is modelled on World Social Forums and is organised by the People’s Dialogue and a range of partners including Franciscans International and CIDSE (Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité”/ International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity). The event ran from the 12th to the 15th November.

In introducing the gathering, the organisers noted that mining projects can have devastating environmental and social impacts. “Affected communities, especially women, indigenous peoples, workers’ and environmentalist movements, as well as scholars and researchers who investigate these phenomena have identified the need to unite, articulate, and enhance their often isolated or fragmented efforts.

“In this scenario, we proposed  a Thematic Social Forum on Mining and Extractivist Economy, with the aim to consolidate a broad movement of resistance and social control over extractive activities, as well as the launching of the Campaign for the ‘Right to say no’ to socially and environmentally degrading projects.”

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