Update: Law Union Mining Law Reform Project

October 18, 2006

A majority of the world’s global mining industry is based in Canada. It is an industry targeted internationally for being associated with environmental harm and human rights abuses. There is a federal government-led national consultation underway evaluating corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) and the extractive sector. The Law Union will be making a submission to the Government in favour of legal reforms to hold Canadian-based mining companies accountable for environmental harms and human rights abuses abroad.

In June 2005, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT) issued a report titled “Mining in Developing Countries and Corporate Social Responsibility” calling for greater accountability of Canadian mining companies.

The Government response to the Committee focused on the establishment of a roundtable consultation on CSR and the extractive sector. Whether the Government will commit to legal reforms or proceed exclusively with “soft” approaches is a major unknown at this time.

The Law Union hosted a panel at the 2006 Annual Conference titled “Canadian Corporations and Environmental Crimes” and released a background paper (written by Sarah Dover) titled “Fighting Canadian Corporations and Environmental Crimes: Human Rights Violations and Environmental Harms by Canadian Mining Companies – A Call for Law Reform”.

The Law Union then organized a working group to provide law reform ideas and momentum (this group has been “resting” over the summer…). Simon Archer and Sarah Dover are currently working on a written submission to the roundtable (due November 17th). Next steps will involve looking to the law union membership and the mining working group for ideas and involvement in law reform efforts.

Further Resources:

The Halifax Initiative: Extractive Industries and
Corporate Social Responsibility

National Roundtables on Corporate Social
Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Sector
in Developing Countries

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and
International Trade Fourteenth Report

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