Project

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Violence Against Environmental Defenders in Mining (VIA)

English title Violence Against Environmental Defenders in Mining (VIA)
Applicant Balsiger Jörg
Number 202601
Funding scheme SPIRIT
Research institution Département de géographie et environnement Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.02.2022 - 31.01.2026
Approved amount 499'896.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Social geography and ecology
Ethnology

Keywords (12)

Philippines; ethnicity; gender; regional cooperation; political ecology; human rights; Kenya; Peru; environmental governance; environmental defenders; violence; mining

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les chercheurs du projet VIA, originaires de la Suisse, des Philippines, du Pérou et du Kenya, ont pour objectif de développer une nouvelle analyse comparative de la violence, ainsi que des mesures de protection, envers les défenseurs et les défenseuses de l'environnement dans le secteur minier.
Lay summary

Le secteur minier, souvent touché par des conflits sociaux entre projets d’extraction, acteurs étatiques et critique des communautés locales, reste un des secteurs les plus meurtriers pour les défenseurs et les défenseuses de l'environnement. L’équipe du projet VIA, originaire de la Suisse, des Philippines, du Pérou et du Kenya, ont pour objectif de développer une nouvelle analyse comparative de la violence, ainsi que des mesures de protection, envers des défenseurs et des défenseuses de l'environnement dans le secteur. Pour ce faire le projet décrira et théorisera la variabilité de pratiques et déterminants de violence dans plusieurs projets miniers tout en prenant compte les dimensions de genre et d'ethnicité. Nous cherchons à mettre en évidence comment les formes de violence et d'insécurité se transforment au fil du temps et à nous interroger sur la pertinence, l'accessibilité et l'efficacité des mesures de protection formelles et informelles déployées au niveau local, national et régional. Nous prévoyons étudier comment les facteurs structurels permettent ou compromettent une protection efficace des défenseurs et des défenseuses de l'environnement. Cela implique une meilleure compréhension de l'importance relative de différents types de menaces, de formes de violence et de formes de protection pour différents groupes de la population. Nous utiliserons une combinaison d'approches quantitatives et qualitatives. Des enquêtes seront adaptées à des réseaux de défenseurs et de défenseuses spécifiques et seront utilisées avec des études de cas multi-sites basées sur des entretiens semi-structurés, de l’observation participante ainsi que des analyses socio-juridiques.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 12.01.2022

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Researchers from Switzerland, Kenya, Peru, and Philippines aim to develop a new, cross-national account of different forms of violence against environmental defenders in the mining sector from a gender and ethnicity perspective.
Lay summary
   

Environmental defenders are often caught in the crossfire between extractive industry projects, state actors and local communities, making mining one of the most lethal sectors for environmental defenders. As researchers from Switzerland, Kenya, Peru, and Philippines we aim to develop a new, cross-national account of how and why violence against environmental defenders in the mining sector is escalating despite global public scrutiny of the sector and a growing suite of protection measures founded on human rights. To address this research question, the project will describe and theorize the variability and drivers of violence in the mining sector through analysis of environmental defender experiences from a gender and ethnicity sensitive perspective. We seek to shed light on the nature, making and transformation of violence and insecurity over time. We interrogate the relevance, accessibility and effectiveness of formal and informal protection measures deployed locally, nationally and regionally. We will explore how structural drivers enable or undermine the effective protection of environmental defenders. This entails better understanding the relative significance of different types of threats and forms of violence for different population groups as well as questions of access to legal and other forms of protection among or between differentially located environmental defenders. We will employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Surveys will be tailored to specific defender networks employed together with multi-sited case studies based on semi-structured interviews, participant observation, socio-legal analysis and focus group discussions to explore forms of violence and threats against individuals, families, groups and organizations.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 12.01.2022

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Abstract

In the VIA project researchers from Switzerland, Philippines, Peru and Kenya collaborate to develop a cross-national account of how and why violence against environmental defenders in the mining sector is escalating despite global public scrutiny. It also explores the growing suite of protection measures founded on human rights. Environmental defenders are often caught in the crossfire between extractive industry projects, state actors and community critique, making mining one of the most lethal sectors for environmental defenders. But murders are only the tip of the iceberg. Readily mediatized, their lethal character precludes more systematic analysis, documentation, and follow-up. As a result, studies of violence, impacts, and trends are often rudimentary. Moreover, they typically lack specific references to gender, ethnicity and socio-political characteristics, even though some evidence suggests that these transversal characteristics influence how patterns of violence differ between rural indigenous communities and urban activists, between political leaders and local villagers, or between mining areas and different economies. To address these gaps and build capacity collaboratively, the project will describe and theorize the variability and drivers of violence in the mining sector through analysis of environmental defender experiences from a gender and ethnicity sensitive perspective. Secondly, it will explore how multiple forms of violence reflect structural inequalities while being mediated through state and non-state action at local, national and regional scales. We seek to shed light on the nature, making and transformation of violence and insecurity over time. Thirdly, the project will interrogate the relevance, accessibility and effectiveness of formal and informal protection measures deployed locally, nationally and regionally. We plan to show how structural drivers - from historical conditions to specific legal frameworks - enable or undermine the effective protection of environmental defenders. This entails better understanding the relative significance of different types of threats and forms of violence for different population groups as well as questions of access to legal and other forms of protection among or between differentially located environmental defenders taking into account gender and ethnicity dimensions.We will employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Enquiries will be tailored to specific defender networks employed together with multi-sited case studies based on semi-structured interviews, participant observation, socio-legal analysis and focus group discussions to explore forms of violence and threats against individuals, families, groups and organizations. Two mining case studies have been chosen in each country: Philippines (Tampakan area, South Cotabato & the Andap Valley Complex in Surigao del Sur), Peru (Conga Gold mine, Cajamarca & Tres Islas, Madre de Dios) and Kenya (Magadi project, Lake Magadi & the Mui coal project, Kitu County). At the national and regional level, state and non-governmental institutions and organizations as well as international organizations will be approached to engage in exploring the effectiveness of protection measures. In all countries, knowledge exchange and capacity building will take place with environmental defender networks culminating in and feeding into a global policy dialogue held in connection with the Human Rights Council to harness the knowledge necessary to build safer and enabling spaces for environmental defenders in the mining sector.
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