Back to All Events

Social-Environmental Conflicts and Human Rights in Latin America

Senate House, University of London

24th March 2015

More details:

The global boom in commodities prices has led Latin American governments to embrace the extraction of natural resources as a pillar of development. The link between human rights abuses and natural resources, particularly oil and mineral deposits and more recently carbon offsets, has become the focus of growing concern. The adoption of extractivist policies by pink tide governments in the region to fund social programmes has resulted in repeated clashes over natural resources with indigenous communities often leading to violence and repression. Opponents to extractivism have increasingly focused on the direct human rights impacts of natural resource extraction on local communities. Threats to indigenous peoples’ rights and well-being are particularly acute in relation to extractive projects. Extractivist policies and operations have had and continue to have a devastating impact on indigenous peoples by undermining their ability to sustain themselves physically and culturally, and by denying their right to decide about their own model of development. Opponents have also rejected environmental services such Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), commodified conservation, sustainable forest management and programmes to increase carbon reserves (REDD+), arguing that these mechanism have allowed for the continuation, legitimation and intensification of destructive activities.

The symposium examines the struggles of those communities in Latin America affected by extractivism and their struggle to defend their rights and territories. It will analyse the emergence of transnational activism in the context of collective action organised around socio-environmental conflicts, the infringement of basic human rights and emergence of alternative and sometimes conflicting development models. It will also discuss global frameworks related to the human rights of indigenous peoples and explore strategies being employed by indigenous communities as they fights the expansion the extractivist policies.

Panel one: 14.00 - 15.30pm

Javier Farje, Latin American Bureau: ‘Climate Change: Beyond the Environment

Dr Magdalena Krysinska-Kaluzna, Centre for Latin American Studies (CESLA), University of Warsaw: Violence in the Actions of the Indigenous Peoples from the Amazon as a Result of Environmental Conflicts

Dr Malayna Raftopoulos, Human Rights Consortium and the Institute of Latin American Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London: Dispossession of Forest Peoples in the name of Emissions Reduction in the Peruvian Amazon

Coffee Break: 15.30 - 16.00pm

Panel two: 16.00 - 17.30pm

Dr Marieke Riethof, Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Liverpool: The International Human Rights Agenda as a Strategic Focus in Environmental Protests in Brazil

Dr Radoslaw Poweska, Centre for Latin American Studies (CESLA), University of Warsaw: Indigenous Rights in the Era of “Indigenous State”. How Interethnic Conflicts and State Re-appropriation of Indigenous Agenda Hinder the Challenge to Ex