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Our global action plan

Key Findings

Based on ERI’s 25 years of experience working with earth rights defenders, we believe that a global action agenda needs to include the following:

  1. Provide earth rights defenders with the tools needed to ensure their security. This can be achieved through training and building broader support networks.
  2. Push back on restrictive laws that criminalize the work of earth rights defenders. National laws should protect defenders, rather than enable illegal and arbitrary arrest, restrictions on free speech and assembly, and harassment through SLAPP lawsuits.
  3. Encourage key actors – IFIs and corporations – to play a role. IFIs and individual companies need to adopt and implement policies that respect the rights and roles of human rights defenders. This includes, in particular, the Chinese government.
  4. End ties between the natural resource industries and police and paramilitary groups. Extreme violence against earth rights defenders often occurs at the hands of police and paramilitary groups, under the direction of corporations engaged in natural resource exploitation.
  5. Fight against new fossil fuel projects. Fossil fuel projects carry a poor track record of respecting human rights. IFIs and other key investors that enable these projects to go forward should shift toward more responsible energy sources.
  6. Strengthen free, prior and informed consent laws. Free, prior, and informed consent is at the heart of responsible natural resource projects. If a project moves forward without the consent of local people, the risk of conflict is high.
  7. Expose the worst offenders. Companies and governments that are playing an outsized role in attacks on earth rights defenders – whether by passing laws to shrink civic space or filing harassing SLAPP lawsuits – need to be held to account.
  8. Promote anti-corruption laws as a pathway to stronger human rights protections. By fighting corruption, we can end impunity, make those responsible for natural resource projects transparent, and deter human rights abuses.
  9. Monitor and expose threats along the entire natural resource supply chain. Natural resource actors need to be aware of and accountable for abuses that occur throughout the supply chain.
  10. Use transnational strategies to ensure accountability. The profits from the natural resource sector do not stop at the border, and neither should accountability. Transnational litigation can help to ensure that those responsible for attacks against earth rights defenders are held accountable. Similarly, accountability mechanisms – such as those provided by the multilateral development banks – can help earth rights defenders to obtain redress.


Read the Report!

Fighting Back: A Global Protection Strategy for Earth Rights Defenders!

Strategies in Action

Case: Sahu v. Union Carbide

In Bhopal, India, people continue to suffer from water contamination. And no one is taking responsibility. In 1984, the world’s worst industrial disaster – a toxic gas leak at a

Case: Barrick

Security guards for world’s largest gold mining company rape and kill locals in Papua New Guinea. For decades, security guards at Barrick Gold Corporation’s gold mine in the remote highlands

Case: Campos-Alvarez v. Newmont Mining

Shooting Peaceful Mine Protesters in Peru. In Peru, police brutality against earth rights defenders is a systemic problem especially in the context of extractive industries. One emblematic example of police

Case: Norperuano Pipeline Contamination

A pipeline in the northernmost Peruvian Amazon has been spilling oil and contaminating communities for 50 years. The pipeline is operated by the Peruvian government, through its state-owned oil company