Home State Responsibility and Local Communities: The Case of Global Mining
Posted: 12 Oct 2008
Date Written: April 30, 2008
Home states that are actively engaged in global mining have considered and rejected calls to regulate the conduct of transnational mining corporations so as to prevent and remedy human rights and environmental harms. This reluctance to regulate is often expressed as a concern that extraterritorial regulation will conflict with the sovereignty of foreign states. This paper argues that the public international law of jurisdiction is permissive of home state regulation that can be justified under the nationality or territoriality principles, provided that there is no true conflict with an exercise of host state jurisdiction. In the human rights and environment contexts, it is more likely that home state regulation would result in concurrent but not conflicting jurisdiction, particularly where the regulation is designed to further shared international norms. Beyond permissibility, this paper argues that international sustainable mineral development law imposes an emerging obligation on all states, including home states, to ensure that the three pillars of public participation rights are respected. These rights are access to information, public participation in decision-making, and access to justice in environmental matters, and they are formulated in the global mining context as a right of indigenous and local communities to free, prior and informed consent. Support for the existence of such a home state obligation may be found in the recommendations of international human rights treaty bodies, and in the work of the International Law Commission on both state responsibility, and the prevention and allocation of loss for transboundary harm.
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