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Natural Resources, Conflict & Human Rights

All too often, natural resources such as oil and coal are a source of conflict. PAX strives for the fair and peaceful extraction and use of natural resources, and for compensation for victims whose human rights are violated during the process of extracting natural resources.

The extraction of natural resources can lead to human rights violations and armed conflict. Many oil and mining companies invest in countries affected by conflict such as South Sudan, Sudan, DR Congo and Colombia. In countries with weak governments which do not respect the rights and interests of the population and the environment, it is easy for companies to ignore human rights when extracting natural resources. All too often, the exploitation of natural resources is accompanied by enforced relocation, loss of land, destruction of living areas, intimidation and even murder. PAX wants to change this.

Blood coal in Colombia

Guerrillas, the army and paramilitaries in Colombia have been battling for control of the land for decades. In Cesar, a department rich in coal in northern Colombia, paramilitaries murdered thousands of people between 1996 and 2006. Hundreds of people disappeared, and tens of thousands were driven off their land. Perpetrators and witnesses declared under oath that paramilitaries were supported by the mining companies Drummond and Prodeco with cash and strategic information.

PAX is supporting people who have become victims of the conflict around the coal mines in Colombia. We have helped to establish an organisation for victims and their next of kin which provides counselling and legal support for them. PAX also strives for remediation for the victims and for reconciliation between them and the mining companies. We do this through public campaigns aimed at Dutch and other European energy companies that buy this blood coal for their power stations, and through political lobbying.

Read more about the Mining and conflict in Colombia programme

Oil extraction in South Sudan

The oil industry in South Sudan was closely associated with the civil war in that country. Hundreds of thousands of citizens were driven off their land, and tens of thousands were murdered. The oil-rich regions of South Sudan were violently depopulated in order to gain access to the oil fields for oil companies. The proceeds from the oil were used to intensify the war.

The victims of the oil war have been denied their right to remedy and reparation. The work of CNPC from China, Lundin from Sweden, OMV from Austria, Petronas from Malaysia, and Talisman from Canada, was directly linked to massive war crimes. The Governments of Sudan, South Sudan, Austria, Canada, China, and Malaysia have disregarded the human cost of Sudan’s oil. The companies have all reaped the benefits of war while disregarding the unspeakable misery of the people whose natural resources they exploited.

A report by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan, with PAX as lead agency, prompted an investigation by the Swedish public prosecutor into Lundin Petroleum’s links with international crimes. In November 2016, the public prosecutor declared that Lundin’s CEO Alex Schneiter and Chair Ian Lundin were the suspected of aiding and abetting war crimes.

Read more about our Oil extraction in South Sudan programme.