25/09/2020.- On the fifth anniversary of the encyclical Laudato Si’ and, following the recent message of Pope Francis, in which he invites us to take care of the Common House with responsibility and to share, not plunder, the goods of nature, we would like to urge the elected representatives in the National Congresses of Latin America and the Caribbean to ratify the Escazú Agreement.
The Jesuit Organisations and Social Centres that take part in the Network Justice in Mining are witnessing an increasing social unrest related to access and enjoyment of natural resources. In different regions of the world we accompany communities affected by mining. These are often communities that live in poverty and suffer from a lack of structural access to the most basic services, despite the fact that they inhabit territories rich in resources of all kinds.
Such conflicts usually begin with a lack of access by the local population to information concerning the extractive projects that are approved within their territories, and continue with a lack of real participation in the decisions that affect them. Consultations more often than not take place late and without guarantees, in contexts marked by violence, harassment and even the murder of social leaders and environmental defenders. The right of communities to say no is rarely respected. Thus, the failure to keep promises and the lack of access to justice where damage is done end up sowing the population’s distrust of governments and companies. A mistrust that will be the seed of future conflicts.
The Escazú Agreements offer a historic opportunity to break this cycle of mistrust and violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, by laying the foundations for good governance of natural resources. For the Agreement to enter into force on 26 September, it must be ratified by at least 11 countries. Just a few days before that date, only nine have ratified it (Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Uruguay).
For this reason, we ask the elected representatives in the National Congresses of those countries that have yet to ratify the Escazú Agreement to do their utmost to gain their country’s support and thus open up a horizon of hope in the region.
23rd September 2020
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