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

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.

Legal Values: Law in the Time of Catastrophe

COVID-19 is the first truly global pandemic of the 21st century. Governments, climate scientists, epidemiologists, and public health researchers have warned that the viral outbreak will affect the world in myriad unforeseen ways and similar outbreaks are likely to recur. All the while that we are overwhelmed by this historical malady, we must not forget the increasing frequency and intensity with which Canada and countries around the world have been struck by forest fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, food scarcity, and historic refugee flows out of conflict and disaster-ridden landscapes. These events are likely to worsen in the coming decades.

Climate change and disasters as umbrella categories are fundamentally problems of governance. But environmental law courses traditionally struggle to make room for them. This course aims to introduce upper year law students to the relationship between law and a range of future-facing global environmental crises that are often overlooked in law school curricula. The readings are designed to: (i) bring law students up to date on social science and humanities research surrounding disasters; and (ii) critically examine a variety of international legal regimes that currently attend to specific kinds of disasters such as pandemics and food scarcity.

As possible, we will pause to examine how these issues are being addressed within Canada, both in terms of the Canadian constitutional framework as well as the concerns of indigenous communities. Like any survey, this course is designed to introduce students to a wide swathe of knowledge about a new subject. As such, there are limits to how deeply we can explore the subject-matter for each week. However, students are encouraged to choose research projects that will allow them to study any of the areas explored in the course, or other related areas, in greater depth.

The seminar will prepare students to serve as law and policy experts on significant national and international environmental concerns that are going to be in high demand in the years to come. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

·understand the socio-scientific, political, and historical context of climate change and other ‘catastrophes’ broadly stated;
·apply these insights and techniques to evaluate the quality and impact of international (and domestic) legal regimes;
·critically analyze the content of official statements, news reports, and popular narratives about disasters and emergency regulation

Sample list of topics (subject to change)
·        Climate, climate change, and disasters (as global, legal and non-legal contexts)
·        Famine and food security
·        Pandemics and global public health
·        Armed conflict and environmental Degradation
·        Small islands and sea level rise
·        Climate refugees and internally displaced persons

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This course will provide a critical survey of state law as it relates to Indigenous peoples in Canada. Topics will include: the historical context and constitutional framework; Aboriginal rights and title; self-government; treaties and treaty rights; the Indian Act; Inuit rights; Métis rights; and the authority and obligations of the federal and provincial governments.

This course fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments. It is also recommended for students who plan to take an advanced seminar on Indigenous Peoples and the Law.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This course will provide a critical survey of state law as it relates to Indigenous peoples and lands in what is now known as Canada.

Topics will include but are not limited to: historical context and constitutional framework; Indigenous law and constitutionalism; Aboriginal rights and title; self-government; treaties and treaty rights; the Indian Act; the obligations of the federal and provincial governments; and Indigenous identity.

This course fulfills the prerequisite requirement for the Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments.

Lectures will be recorded.

Natural Resources Law

This course explores key areas of the law and policy relating to natural resources management, each year will include a different combination of minerals, land use, biodiversity, conservation, water, fisheries and forestry. This includes examination of the common law principles, legislation and administrative controls governing natural resource management, and Indigenous natural resource jurisdiction and governance. The course will consider examples within Canada, with an emphasis on Ontario. Some comparative international law and policy examples will be provided. The course is a praxicum course. Assignments and final research projects will be developed with community partners to support their work on current issues in Natural Resource Law in Canada.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This substantive law course provides a critical survey of state law as it relates to Indigenous peoples and lands in what is now known as Canada. Topics include but are not limited to: Indigenous sources of law; international law; Indigenous women, gender and law; historical context and constitutional framework re. Indigenous Peoples; Aboriginal title and doctrine of discovery; treaties; resource rights, extinguishment and consultation; the Indian Act and identity; allyship. The class is taught through the use of a variety of techniques, including class exercises, videos, and collaborative problem-solving. This course fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments.

Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

This substantive law course explores Indigenous legal orders – mainly nêhiyaw (Cree) and Anishinaabe laws – through the lens of Indigenous worldview(s), and provides a critical survey of state (mainly Canadian) law. This course is structured primarily on Indigenous methodologies and pedagogies, and includes both a mid-term evaluation and an advocacy component. Topics include but are not limited to: Indigenous sources of law; international law; Indigenous women, gender and law; historical context and constitutional framework re. Indigenous Peoples; Aboriginal title and doctrine of discovery; treaties; resource rights, extinguishment and consultation. This course fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments. While online, this course will consist of weekly lectures along with weekly small group sessions based on the course readings.

Environmental Law

This course is an introduction to the law of environmental protection in Canada. Major issues and contemporary developments in environmental law are brought to life via case-study scenarios drawn from news stories and real-world environmental controversies and guest speakers. Topics typically include common law environmental litigation (e.g. toxic torts, class actions, SLAPP suits); jurisdiction to regulate (e.g. federal division of powers, local government powers, aboriginal self-government); command regulation and regulatory innovations; public participation and environmental rights (e.g. Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights, community right to know laws); environmental compliance and enforcement (e.g. environmental sentencing, citizen enforcement); international law and the environment (e.g. multilateral environmental agreements, international trade and investment law); judicial review of environmental decision-making (e.g. standard of review, public interest standing); economic policy instruments (e.g. carbon taxes and trading); federal toxic substances regulation; environmental impact assessment; endangered species protection; and parks and protected areas. We take up major federal environmental statutes including the Fisheries Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Species at Risk Act, as well as the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights. Throughout the course, we use cross-cutting issues like climate change, sustainability, and disasters to understand complex legal and policy problems.

The course is evaluated based on in-class participation, a mid-term assignment, and a final exam. For the mid-term  assignment, students work in groups to present an in-class client briefing, or submit a public comment to a government agency on a real-life proposed environmental act, policy, or regulation that is posted for comment on the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights registry or the federal environmental registry.  
 
The course is integrated with the Faculty of Environment & Urban Change graduate course ENVS 6164 and typically includes students from the MES and MBA programs, whose presence greatly enriches the learning experience.

 Note: The instructor of this course/ seminar has indicated a preference or willingness to conduct optional in-person meetings for students. All in-person meetings will be optional for students until the general return to in-person instruction that is expected for the winter 2022 term. Any in-person meetings in the fall 2021 term that cover examinable course content will be accompanied by a remote participation option, such as a separate remote class, live dual delivery, and/ or a recording of the class, at the instructor’s discretion. More information will follow from the instructor after students have enrolled; please also note that there is no guarantee of in-person instruction in any course or seminar.