Latin America: Pax Christi International joins forces with EU-CELAC working group for EU consultation on Latin America
21/2/18 - On 15 February 2018, Pax Christi International participated in a EU consultation with civil society organisations organised by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission (Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development – DG DEVCO). The event took place in Brussels and had as its aim to obtain input from civil society by EU policy makers for the elaboration of the new Communication on the EU relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.
Pax Christi International worked together with the EU-CELAC working group, a joint platform of members of CONCORD, the EU-LAT network, the Human Rights and Democracy Network (HRDN) as well as Heinrich Böll Stiftung, through the making of a joint report for this consultation. Our input to this report focused on the extractives industry context, as this is one of our advocacy priorities. You can find the joint report through this link, both in English and Spanish.
During the consultation meeting, Pax Christi International gave a presentation in which it presented its work in Latin America and the Caribbean, namely training communities in nonviolently resisting the extractives industry, and gave suggestions regarding the content of the Communication on the EU relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. The following remarks were made:
- We hear from the Latin American communities that we work with that the extractives activities by companies – including European ones – have negative impacts on their people and territories and that the situation is deteriorating.
- Human rights defenders who resist the extractives industry are threatened and killed. We drew attention to the Colombian situation where due to the peace process companies are trying to obtain land that was in the hands of the guerillas and should go back to communities.
- The problem should have an important focus in the new EU communication with particular attention for indigenous peoples and their rights. We underlined the importance of free, prior and informed consultation and that they should be respected.
- The rights of communities and specifically their participation in dispute settlements mechanisms should be respected, also with regard to the new Multilateral Investment Court.
- There is a need for funding for objective and independent research on the real impact of the extractives industry, as companies are doing their own biased research.
- The EU should take a constructive approach with regard to the upcoming negotiations for a UN binding treaty on business and human rights, carry out sustainability impact assessments and evaluations with regard to EU trade agreements and improve harmonisation of policy initiatives at the EU and UN level regarding business and human rights.
EU relations with Latin America and the Carribean
During the consultation, EU policy makers underlined that the EU and the Latin American and Carribean region share deep rooted and historical bonds on strong social, cultural, and economic ties and have shared positions on many policy themes such as multilateralism, climate change and peace. Furthermore, that both regions are important allies in tackling common and global changes, as showed by the successful collaboration on the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The uncertain geopolitical environment introduces new challenges and opportunities for EU and Latin American and Carribean relations in order to make their partnership more relevant to the needs of the citizens. The upcoming Communication aims at putting forward a renewed vision of EU-Latin American and Carribean relations in an evolving international environment.
European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)
Reference was made to the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) through which several of our Latin American member and partner organisations have been supported throughout the years. For the period 2018-2020 the following important points were made:
- Increased focus on human rights defenders and most difficult human rights situations (including focus on shrinking space for human rights and democracy work).
- Continued worldwide coverage, including in graduated countries and in those countries where no EU bilateral programme exists.
- Maximised complementarity to other instruments, that means to remain engaged in those areas that make the EU a lead donor in some 'niche' areas (such as the fight against death penalty and the fight against torture) but avoid duplication of action in areas covered by other instruments (e.g. women's rights, support to regional human rights mechanisms).
- Continuing to be an instrument mainly geared towards CSOs but giving more importance to other relevant actors, such as the media and political parties.
- Exploiting fully the unique features of EIDHR, i.e. independence of action from the interference of national authorities, flexible granting rules (including low amount direct award grants), support to non-registered entities, reasoned confidentiality of projects, use of sub-granting.
- Intensification of the follow-up to the EU election observation missions.
With regard to the new communication, the EU will hold other consultations with think thanks, businesses, the Economic and Social Committee, Eurocities as well as in Latin American Countries and EU member states (Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Sweden, Italy and Finland). Inputs can also be submitted online through their consultations website. A first version of the document is due for April or May.
Pax Christi International will continue to follow up on this process with the other members of the EU-CELAC working group and attend a broad consultation taking place on 22 February in Brussels.
Advocacy Priority: Extractives in Latin America