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Mining in Colombia and Environmental Justice: How the “Popular Consultation” Process Works in Practice

May 2016

Citation: ELR 10416

Author: Luisa Ferreira-Peralta

This Article examines how the Latin American procedure of “popular consultation” has been used as a mechanism for resisting the development of an open-pit gold mine in Colombia, and analyzes how Colombian communities are using the procedure to have meaningful involvement in environmental decisionmaking. A close study suggests that communities were able to engage in popular consultation because of certain conditions: First, most of Colombian society was aware of this participatory mechanism being written into the 1991 Constitution. Second, the community knew of the popular consultation’s processes and experiences in other Latin American countries. Third, particular local dynamics took place and alliances were formed. Fourth, the general public agreed on the importance of having meaningful involvement in environmental decisionmaking.

Luisa Ferreira-Peralta is a Stanford Human Rights Center Fellow at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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