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Open Letter to United Nations Global Compact Ecuador from the Government Council of the Shuar Arutam Peoples

Source: 
Government Council of the Shuar Arutam Peoples (CGPSHA)

Background:

  • On February 17, Canadian mining company Solaris Resources Inc. announced its adherence to the United Nations Global Compact initiative in Ecuador.
  • The Global Compact is a United Nations initiative through which companies and organizations voluntarily undertake to align their strategies with its Ten Principles on human rights, labour, the environment, and anti-corruption. 
  • Over the years, the Government Council of the Shuar Arutam Peoples (GCPSHA) has condemned the company for the illegitimate consultation process on the Warintza project, for interference in their communities, and for attempting to promote a “successful relationship” between the company and the Indigenous government at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada in 2020, among other things.
  • In its latest open letter to Solaris Resources Inc., sent on September 23, 2020, the GCPSHA rejected the “Impacts and Benefits Agreement” signed between Solaris Resources and the “Strategic Alliance” created by the company and headed by Mr. Vicente Tsakimp, former president of the PSHA, as well as representatives of the Yawi and Warints centres, and demanded the company to “abstain from continuing to manipulate (their) communities.”

Sir/Madam

GLOBAL COMPACT-ECUADOR NETWORK

Regarding my concerns - 

On February 17, 2021, Solaris Resources Inc., parent company of Lowell Mineral Exploration Ecuador SA, announced its commitment to the United Nations Global Compact as a supporting company in Ecuador within the framework of its participation in the development of the Warints Project, located in the southeast of Ecuador in the province of Morona Santiago. In the face of this communication, as the Governing Council of the Shuar Arutam People (PSHA in Spanish), we express our CONCERN and DISCONTENT in the following terms:

Warintza is located in southeastern Ecuador in the province of Morona Santiago, administrative region of Limón Indaza. It is 540km to the southeast of the capital of Quito and 145 km east of the city of Cuenca. The Project is located in the Cordillera del Cóndor, a mountain range in the eastern Andes on the border between Ecuador and Peru. The biological and ecosystemic attributes of this area are invaluable for its natural wealth and for being part of our territories of life, the land where the indigenous communities of the Shuar reside. 

In the press release, Solaris Resources Inc. states that this commitment is part of the Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility program.  However, it is a highly questionable company that faces several public complaints from affected communities, due to the violation of human and collective rights of peoples and nationalities, particularly the Shuar Arutam People (PSHA).  

It is important to emphasize that this mining project has provoked serious internal conflicts within our organizational structure. The company, without authorization from the Assembly and our Governing Council, has established direct relations with 2 of our 47 communities (Warints and Yawi Shuar Centres) using offers of money and projects, and has formed a ‘Strategic Alliance’ that seeks to facilitate the company’s operations in the collective and ancestral territory of the PSHA. By not respecting our self-determination processes and our traditional mechanisms of organization, SOLARIS RESOURCES INC. IS IN BREACH OF PRINCIPAL 1 AND 2 OF THE GLOBAL COMPACT, wherein companies commit to support and respect human rights within their sphere of influence and ensure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.  

Furthermore, the company does not comply with the Fundamental Principals     OF COMPANIES AND HUMAN RIGHTS, which establishes that companies have a responsibility to respect the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples and nationalities recognized by international instruments such as the ILO Convention169, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  It also promotes the fractioning of organizational structures historically created and composed of Indigenous people and nationalities of Ecuador. 

The PRINCIPAL VIOLATIONS that Solaris Resources Inc. commits are: 

  • the breach of the fundamental rights of consultation and prior, free and informed consent in the allocation of the mining concession, for which the PSHA has filed a lawsuit with the ILO in February 2021.
  • the contribution to the militarization of the Shuar territories, including the harassment and threats of leaders, as in the case of the President of the Shuar Arutam People, Josefina Tunki, among others, at the express request of the company in the interest of the supposed ‘protection’ of company personnel. As evidence, there exists a File No. 140601820120030 of an investigation in the preliminary phase concerning intimidation and threats that are being followed in the Attorney General’s Office in Sucúa, as the result of a complaint filed by the Shuar Arutam People PSHA, against Mr. Federico G. Velázquez, Manager of SOLARIS RESOURCES INC.
  • In the same way, Solaris has initiated a massive radio propaganda program that uses the name of the PSHA and makes false and misleading claims, in order to make the citizens believe that the PSHA supports the company and has signed a ‘letter of understanding’ with the ill-chosen name ‘Strategic Alliance’ – a letter that they only just managed to sign on November 23, 2018, with the ex-president of PSHA, who is now employed by this company and benefitting personally from his role in his previous position. 

With this so-called ‘Strategic Alliance’, the company intends to position its Community Social Relations program as being ‘successful and innovative’. We therefore report the above and deeply regret that the Global Compact – Ecuador Network is positioned on the side of the interests of the mining company. As Shuar Arutam People, we have been emphatic in our public pronouncements, and have even channeled communications to the CEO and shareholders of Solaris Resources S.A., stating that their participation in the Warints Project replicates the same colonial model of extractive companies that for decades have dispossessed indigenous people of their land and whose only objective is to evade the faithful fulfillment of the rights established in the Constitution of Ecuador and International Human Rights treaties

It is alarming that Global Compact, an entity whose stated goal is to engage companies in the construction of a sustainable future, and one that demands that companies “respond to the fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labour standard, environment and anti-corruption”, would risk losing the legitimacy and credibility of this innovative initiative by not carefully investigating businesses/partners like Solaris Resources Inc. From our experiences with this company in our territories, we have demonstrated and reiterate that Solaris Resources Inc. DOES NOT REPRESENT CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, nor is it a respectable agent that guarantees and protects the human rights of the indigenous peoples and nationalities in Ecuador.

Sincerely,

Signed, Prof. Josefina Tunki, President of the CGPSHA 

Ecuador, February 19, 2021