Comparative Law: Transnational Mining, Development and the Local Rule of Law

Quick Info
(3041G.03)  Seminar
X. Sierra-Camargo; Adjunct Professor
3 credit(s)  2 hour(s);
The seminar sessions will be a combination of lectures, occasional guest speakers, student-led discussion questions and presentations, interactive dialogue, and facilitated class discussions. Students will be expected to attend class, to have read the assigned material for that class, to come prepared to engage in class discussion and to actively participate in the class. This seminar will be taught in three-hour classes in a nine-week period beginning January 19, 2022.
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

Since colonial times, mining, and in particular gold mining, has been one of the favorite economic activities of the former European empires, some of which today are recognized as Global North states. For these and for other transnational actors such as mining corporations and international economic organizations, large-scale mining is still one of the preferred economic activities due to the large profits derived from it, which are not only caused by the demand for extraction of metals, but also by the speculation stock market. Because of the favorable legal and political conditions in the former colonies, today represented in the Global South states, Latin American countries such as Colombia are still considered today by foreign investors as some of the main epicenters for extractive activities.
Although these countries are currently recognized as independent states and are ruled by democratic governments, typically colonial patterns and hierarchies continue to be revived, through the dynamics of transnational mining but under the rule of law and the international law itself. This paradox leads us to question: How is the law that regulates transnational mining made? What actors on a local scale and on a global scale participate in the law-making process? What is the role of the global-north and global-south states, the international organizations and the mining corporations in transnational mining operation? How does the transnational mining law operate in the domestic sphere? What are the different development views in conflict? What colonial patterns and hierarchies are updated through the legal framework that regulates transnational mining?
Based on the analysis of cases studies in Colombia and other Latin American countries, these are some of the questions that will be addressed in this course. Furthermore, another of the key aspects to be analysed is the different and ambivalent uses of the law in the case studies. For instance, local communities have used the law as an emancipatory instrument to resist the social and environmental impacts derived from transnational mining; and at the same time, transnational actors have used the law as an instrument to carry out large-scale extractive projects and to obtain special legal conditions in favour of their private interests. In this sense, this course aims to reflect on the role of the different parties involved in the socio-environmental conflicts derived from transnational mining and on the different uses of law; to identify the different development views in conflict; and to identify the colonial revivals embedded in a (post)colonial context where transnational mining remains at the center of economic, social, legal and political relations.