More than 300 groups urge World Bank to reject lawsuit that would devastate nation’s water
(Washington) More than 300 civil society organizations with millions of members are supporting El Salvador in its legal battle with Canadian mining company Pacific Rim at the World Bank. Labor, environmental and grassroots groups from Canada, the U.S. and El Salvador will submit a letter to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on April 10 demanding a review of the lawsuit against El Salvador.
Pacific Rim is demanding $301 million in compensation from El Salvador unless the government reconsiders its ban on mining. Pacific Rim sued El Salvador after a 2009 announcement by the Salvadoran government that it would not issue metal mining permits due to the risk it poses to the safety of water supplies. According to the World Bank, 90 percent of the surface water is heavily contaminated and 20 percent of its rural population lacks safe drinking water. Pacific Rim is using the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Disputes (ICSID) to challenge the moratorium on mining.
“Pacific Rim is using ICSID to subvert a democratic nationwide debate over mining and environmental health in El Salvador,” the letter said. “When it comes to such issues, local democratic institutions should prevail, not foreign corporations seeking to exploit natural resources.”
Polling data shows that a majority of Salvadorans (62 percent) support a permanent ban on metal mining.
“The case against El Salvador is one of many cases that demonstrate the extent to which investor state arbitration broadly found in investment agreements undermine local democracy,” said Pedro Cabezas coordinator of the International Allies against Metal Mining – the coalition of NGOs that is spearheading the letter campaign. “It’s time for the World Bank to cut its ties to ICSID and stop promoting this investment model.”
The World Bank is hosting its biannual meeting in Washington, D.C. this week. Pacific Rim is scheduled to submit its arguments to the ICSID tribunal on April 11, 2014.
The letter will be delivered through actions taking place simultaneously in Washington DC, San Salvador and Toronto.
For more information, please contact:
- Manuel Perez Rocha, Institute for Policy Studies (U.S.): 240-838-6623, manuel(at)ips-dc.org
- Dylan Penner, Council of Canadians (Canada): 613-795-8685, dpenner(at)canadians.org.
- Pedro Cabezas, International Allies against Mining in El Salvador (El Salvador): 011-503-7755-1523, stopesmining(at)gmail.com
About International Allies against Mining in El Salvador:
We are a group of organizations from coast to coast in the U.S., Canada and Australia that support the Salvadoran people's demand for sovereignty, the right to water and healthy communities. We work in coordination with the National Roundtable against Metallic Mining in El Salvador and communities directly affected by mining projects. For more information on Pacific Rim’s operations in El Salvador please read our recent publication Debunking Eight Falsehoods by Pacific Rim/OceanaGold in El Salvador.