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Environmental and land defenders: Global patterns and determinants of repression

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Abstract

Environmental and land defenders play a crucial role in attempts to slow down environmental change and address power inequalities in land-use and resource development. Yet, they frequently face repression, including defamation, criminalization, and assassination. Recent policy and media coverage initiatives have provided much needed attention to the protection and support of defenders, but there has so far been little systematic analysis of patterns and determinants of repression at multiple scales. Here, we use databases providing the best available worldwide record of cases of socio-environmental conflicts and killings of defenders to identify patterns of repression and potential determinants of killings. Globally, about a third of socio-environmental conflicts involve mass mobilization, arrests and direct forms of violence. These ‘high intensity’ conflicts are more frequent in Asia and Latin America. At least 1734 killings of environmental and land defenders took place in a total of 53 countries between 2002 and 2018, most of them occurring in Brazil, the Philippines, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Peru. Our multivariate analysis indicates that major country-level determinants of killings include income level, foreign direct investment, dependency on mineral extraction, regime type, frequency of protest movements, and size of Indigenous populations. We suggest that more systematic reporting and analysis of repression – including through subnational level studies for which we provide testable hypotheses – can help protect and support defenders, notably through conflict-sensitive investment policies and greater accountability for abuses.

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... Often the definition of environmental defenders − or human rights defenders, land or land and environment defenders, popular environmentalists or "community environmentalists" − has been associated with deaths and a long and tragic history of violence, conflicts and access to land and resources that is suppressed or unequal (Ghazoul & Kleinschroth, 2018;Verweijen et al., 2021;Zeng et al., 2022). Defenders are coincident with struggles, protests and complaints of criminalization, damage and socioenvironmental conflicts (Birss, 2017;Temper et al., 2018;Glazebrook & Opoku, 2018;Middeldorp & Le Billon, 2019;Prause & Le Billon, 2020;Le Billon & Lujala, 2020;Zeng et al., 2022). Bennett et al. (2015), emphasize that the term 'Defenders' is used to refer to a wide range of individuals and collectives promoting or protecting human rights. ...
... Defenders are as also defined as individuals or groups who fight for more sustainable forms of subsistence and traditional forms of environmental conservation, potentially contributing to slowing down the rate of environmental degradation and water pollution, production waste, and greenhouse gas emissions (Le Billon & Lujala, 2020). Sheidel et al. (2020) also state that Defenders are individuals and collectives who protect the environment and protest against unfair and unsustainable resource use. ...
... They can also be considered shapers of critical consciousness regarding the risks and effects of "development projects" and corporate and state actions, mainly in regard to health, the environment, lands, territories, way of life, territorialities, food sovereignty, and rights (cultural, territorial, and recognition rights). These perspectives transcend the defense of nature and the equitable use of resources (Le Billon & Lujala, 2020;Larsen et al., 2020). Supporting the "collective use of common goods" is particularly important in the face of a "global land rush" (Dell'Angelo, 2021;Sändig, 2021). ...
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Article
Latin America has a long history of extractive and exploitative territorial activities, dating back to the colonial era. However, in the last decade there has been a steep increase in these activities, and in socio-environmental conflicts, in Latin America. There are indications of the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the violation of human rights, which materializes in the Amazon through the increase of expulsions and evictions of families, assassination attempts, murders, illegal imprisonments, intimidation, and threats. The main targets of these crimes are leaders who head the struggle to defend the rights of collectivities to land and territory, the environment, human rights and their multiple cultural and life expressions. The state of Pará (Eastern Amazonia) has appeared in the last decade as one of the states in Brazil with the highest incidence of cases of land conflicts, assassinations, aggression, defamation, and death threats directed against community leaders and environmental defenders. Thus, this article aims to quantify, characterize and reflect on the environmental defenders and community leaders suffering death threats and under legal protection in the state of Pará, Eastern Amazonia (between 2014 and 2020). It also seeks to identify the main activities and sectors that threaten these groups and the reasons behind the intensification of threats in recent years.
... oil rents, natural gas rents, coal rents (hard and soft), mineral rents, and forest rents, expressed as percentage of a country's GDP. It is an indicator of a country's dependence on natural resource exploitation (Le Billon and Lujala, 2020). A priori the regression analysis, we conducted and assured assumption checks. ...
... The models included the following predictor variables: ; * Preventive mobilization, with which we test whether the timing of mobilization can contribute to avoid knowledge loss ; * Rule of law, to explore whether effective laws that assure adequate project implementation, including the protection of human rights and minorities, could support to avoid knowledge loss; * natural resources rent (%GDP) to explore whether a high dependency on natural resources means that state and private pressure to implement a project is high, even at the cost of social impacts such as knowledge loss (cf Le Billon and Lujala, 2020). c) Project Cancelled (dependent variable) * Count of mobilization forms, to test whether tactical diversity may influence higher rates of project cancellation ; * Preventive mobilization, to test whether the timing of mobilization influences project cancellation ; * Rule of law, to test whether with higher levels of democracy, more legal and formal means are available to stop a project that does not meet human rights standards, environmental regulations, and other legal concerns (Raftopoulos, 2017); * Natural resources rent (%GDP), to explore if more dependent a state is on resource incomes, the higher the pressure to push a project through, the more difficult to achieve project cancellation (cf Le Billon and Lujala, 2020). ...
... As our results have shown, the higher a country's dependence on natural resource rents, the lower may be the chances for activists to successfully stop socially conflictive and environmentally damaging projects, arguably, because the state's pressure to implement conflictive resource use projects is higher (cf. Le Billon and Lujala, 2020). This shows how colonial and current commodity frontiers shape not only the specific places where commodities are extracted and processed, but also the political economy of the countries in which conflicts and mobilizations occur. ...
Article
This article contributes to the discussion on socio-environmental conflicts and extractive projects in the Arctic region. Fifty-three socio-environmental conflicts are analysed, using data from the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice. Based on descriptive statistics, regression and network analysis, the paper reveals that socio-environmental conflicts predominantly overlap with Indigenous peoples' territories, from which a transversal opposition takes place, including Indigenous, non-Indigenous and international actors alike. The main commodities involved in these conflicts are related to fossil fuels, metals, and transport infrastructure. Associated large-scale extractive activities are bringing negative socio-environmental impacts at the expense of Indigenous groups, fishermen, and pastoralists, with loss of traditional knowledge and practices being significantly higher in Indigenous territories of high bio-cultural values associated to the environment. Our findings suggest that repression against activists is significantly more likely to occur in absence of preventive mobilization, and in Arctic countries with low rule of law. The chances to achieve the cancellation of a conflictive extractive project are significantly higher if dependency on natural resource rents in a country is low.
... The prominent role played by Global Witness and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in highlighting the violence and threats to life experienced by environmental and land defenders has also situated concern for defenders within a broader human rights discourse. 1 Recent work in what Scheider et al. (2020) term 'statistical political ecology' has sought to identify cross-national patterns in the political and economic formations associated with violence towards environmental defenders (see also Butt et al., 2019;Le Billon & Lujala, 2020;Middeldorp & Le Billon, 2019). This work has largely drawn on Global Witness data on the killing of human rights defenders (2002)(2003)(2004)(2005)(2006)(2007)(2008)(2009)(2010)(2011)(2012)(2013)(2014)(2015)(2016)(2017), as well as on the Environmental Justice Atlas, which records socio-environmental conflicts or "mobilizations by local communities against particular economic activities whereby environmental impacts are a key element of their grievances" in dialogue with affected communities (Temper et al., 2015: 261-62). ...
... Most cases of socioenvironmental conflict on record relate to mining, and the greatest number of deaths of defenders is associated with mobilization against mining projects (Scheidel et al., 2020). Higher levels of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and mineral rents are clearly associated with a higher number of environmental and land defender killings (Le Billon & Lujala, 2020). Weak rule of law is identified as an important condition leading to violence against defenders (Butt et al., 2019: 743), and 'semiauthoritarian' regimes are associated with more targeted killings of defenders than authoritarian regimes which are associated with more open repression (Middeldorp & Le Billon, 2019: 333). ...
... However, there is a risk that rooting analyses of land and environmental defenders in this rule of law 'social imaginary' can risk reproducing liberal developmental norms that work to further intensify violent forms of extractive development in Bangladesh and elsewhere. As such, the body of this chapter examines the mobilization and killing of land defenders around coal mines and coal power plants in Bangladesh, highlighting how these patterns of violence fit within the global trends highlighted by Scheidel et al. (2020) and Le Billon and Lujala (2020). It situates these patterns of violent development in terms of a move towards 'developmental centrism' (Khan, 2020) ...
Chapter
Recent contributions to 'statistical political ecology' have identified political and economic formations associated with the killing, criminalization and intimidation of land and environmental defenders-as well as characteristics of successful resistance movements in which defenders play a part. This chapter is concerned with the land defenders who have mobilised against resurgent coal power in Bangladesh over the last decade and a half. Many of these defenders have been subjected to violence within the context of conflicts and movements that fit emerging global patterns. However, an analysis of the political economy of coal power in Bangladesh reveals particularly contradictions in the measures of 'corruption' and 'rule of law' which facilitate cross-national comparison of the contexts in which defenders face violence. This chapter concludes by highlighting the degree to which efforts to promote good governance and rule of law can facilitate the expansion of violent extractive operations which put land and environmental defenders at risks. It calls for greater attention to the 'violence footprints' of transnational corporations and donor agencies with whom the sovereign power of the Bangladeshi state is entangled.
... The prominent role played by Global Witness and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in highlighting the violence and threats to life experienced by environmental and land defenders has also situated concern for defenders within a broader human rights discourse. 1 Recent work in what Scheider et al. (2020) term 'statistical political ecology' has sought to identify cross-national patterns in the political and economic formations associated with violence towards environmental defenders (see also Butt et al., 2019;Le Billon & Lujala, 2020;Middeldorp & Le Billon, 2019). This work has largely drawn on Global Witness data on the killing of human rights defenders (2002)(2003)(2004)(2005)(2006)(2007)(2008)(2009)(2010)(2011)(2012)(2013)(2014)(2015)(2016)(2017), as well as on the Environmental Justice Atlas, which records socio-environmental conflicts or "mobilizations by local communities against particular economic activities whereby environmental impacts are a key element of their grievances" in dialogue with affected communities (Temper et al., 2015: 261-62). ...
... Most cases of socioenvironmental conflict on record relate to mining, and the greatest number of deaths of defenders is associated with mobilization against mining projects (Scheidel et al., 2020). Higher levels of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and mineral rents are clearly associated with a higher number of environmental and land defender killings (Le Billon & Lujala, 2020). Weak rule of law is identified as an important condition leading to violence against defenders (Butt et al., 2019: 743), and 'semiauthoritarian' regimes are associated with more targeted killings of defenders than authoritarian regimes which are associated with more open repression (Middeldorp & Le Billon, 2019: 333). ...
... However, there is a risk that rooting analyses of land and environmental defenders in this rule of law 'social imaginary' can risk reproducing liberal developmental norms that work to further intensify violent forms of extractive development in Bangladesh and elsewhere. As such, the body of this chapter examines the mobilization and killing of land defenders around coal mines and coal power plants in Bangladesh, highlighting how these patterns of violence fit within the global trends highlighted by Scheidel et al. (2020) and Le Billon and Lujala (2020). It situates these patterns of violent development in terms of a move towards 'developmental centrism' (Khan, 2020) ...
... Already, recent updates for 2019 report the greatest number of land and environmental defenders murdered in a single year (Global Witness 2020). With little governmental protection-as many extrajudicial killings linked to the paramilitary and police, as well as political instability and unsupportive administrations-the need for international attention and support is dire (Global Witness 2017; Ghazoul and Kleinschroth 2018;Glazebrook and Opoku 2018;Le Billon and Lujala 2020). This has led to promising developments on an international stage with the United Nations Environmental Programme and United Nations General Assembly recognizing and supporting the protection of land and environmental defenders in 2018 and 2019, respectively (United Nations Environment Programme 2018; United Nations General Assembly 2019). ...
... Supported by the Global Witness annual reports and data collection efforts, recent studies have identified key socio-economic and political drivers associated with environmentally-motivated murders based on country-level statistical analyses (Butt et al. 2019;Middeldorp and Le Billon 2019;Global Witness 2020). For instance, killings were found to be highly associated with rule of law and corruption as well as general homicide rates, democracy levels and per capita income (Jeffords and Thompson 2016;Butt et al. 2019;Middeldorp and Le Billon 2019;Le Billon and Lujala 2020). These findings support the general movement away from neo-Malthusian assumptions in the field of environmental conflicts, and supports the importance underlying socio-economic factors that determine the valuation of nature as a resource (Harvey et al. 1996;Le Billon 2015;Scheidel et al. 2020). ...
... Yet, environmental conflicts differ from social conflicts due to the importance of their environmental components. Negative impacts to the environment, such as waste disposal and contamination and exploitation of natural resources, are known to increase marginalization and burdens on poorer actors (Demaria and D'Alisa 2013;Le Billon and Lujala 2020). In the same way, despite the observed close link between environmental and non-environmental homicide (Middeldorp and Le Billon 2019), it is important not to discount the ecological dimensions (Collier and Hoeffler 2004;Szalavitz 2018). ...
Article
Land and environmental defenders are a major bulwark against environmental destruction and biodiversity loss resulting from unsustainable nature resource extraction. Resultant conflicts can lead to violence against and deaths of these defenders. Along with mounting environmental pressures, homicides of these defenders are increasing globally. Yet, this issue has only recently started to receive scientific attention. While existing studies indicate the importance of socio-economic processes in driving such murders, spatially explicit global analyses considering environmental components are largely missing. Here, we take a broad spatial approach to assess relative contributions of environmental factors to the killing of environmental defenders. We find higher rates of such homicides are typically found in areas where limited or underutilized resources (e.g., freshwater, land and forests) are more available. Our results point towards a prevalent global land scarcity that results in industries targeting the last remaining strongholds for biodiversity and the environmental defenders within.
... Current literature on EDCs is gradually bringing more attention to violence against environmental defenders (Butt et al., 2019;Del Bene, et al. 2018;Le Billon and Lujala, 2020;Navas et al., 2018;Scheidel et al., 2020). Yet little research addresses violence against WEDs, whose roles in environmental conflicts are still understudied and who are often simultaneously the most unnoticed and the worst impacted (Veuthey and Gerber, 2012;Martínez Alier and Navas, 2017;Deonandan and Bell, 2019). ...
... The statistics of (different forms of) violence against environmental defenders are difficult to obtain, and there are no official UN statistics available. As generally acknowledged among researchers in the field, Global Witness and the EJAtlas are the best sources (Le Billon and Lujala, 2020), and we rely on them for our sample of killed WEDs. The cases were first recorded in detail in the Environmental Justice Atlas (E JAtlas), an online open-source inventory of EDCs (Temper et al., 2015Martinez-Alier et al., 2016) with over 3,330 documented cases as of December 2020. ...
... Vol. 27, 2020 1197 widespread armed conflict and criminal impunity as well as there being fewer EDCs and resulting resource conflicts in their own countries (Butt et al., 2019;Le Billon and Lujala, 2020;Temper et al., 2015;Scheidel et al., 2020). Secondly, a feminist political ecology understanding of regional variance in reporting WED deaths reveals how their intersectionally differing circumstances were affected by uneven power relations between diverse women. ...
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This study illustrates how, despite the diversity of women environmental defenders and their movements around the world, there are near-universal patterns of violence threatening their survival. Violence against women environmental defenders, often perpetrated by government-backed corporations, remains overlooked. Research on this issue importantly contributes to discussions about environmental justice because women defenders make up a large proportion of those at the frontlines of ecological distribution conflicts. Through comparative political ecology, this research analyzes cases from the Environmental Justice Atlas, an online open-access inventory of environmental distribution conflicts, in which one or more women were assassinated while fighting a diverse array of extractive and polluting projects. Although the stories showcase a breadth of places, conflicts, social-class backgrounds, and other circumstances between women defenders, most cases featured multinational large-scale extractive companies supported by governments violently targeting women defenders with impunity. Keywords: Violence, murder, women environmental defenders, EJAtlas, comparative political ecology
... For instance, Rajão et al. found that at least 18% of soy imports and approximately 48% of beef imports from Brazil to Europe have likely been associated with illegal deforestation, which has contributed to substantial amounts of global greenhouse gas emissions [6]. Soy and beef supply chains from Brazil have also caused or contributed to human rights violations, due to a loss of local communities, family farmers and indigenous peoples' access to land, water and livelihoods; negative health impacts in consequence of pesticide pollution and poisoning; and violence against the defenders of lands and the environment [7][8][9][10][11]. As outlined below, human rights and environmental concerns have been interconnected in soy and beef supply chains in Brazil, as well as in the supply chains of other goods and commodities such as palm oil, metals or fossil fuels. ...
... Therefore, many scholars have argued that without fundamental changes of laws regulating land tenure, the problem of deforestation cannot be resolved. Another example of the interdependence of environmental and human rights protection is the intimidation of and violence against the defenders of lands and the environment, among which are many indigenous people(s) [9,10]. These examples show that environmental protection is a fundamental element of a rights-based approach to development, while the enjoyment of human rights such as the right to land and to physical integrity can contribute to healthy environments. ...
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Article
To address the negative externalities associated with global trade, countries in the Global North have increasingly adopted supply chain regulations. While global supply chains cause or contribute to interconnected environmental and human rights impacts, I show that supply chain regulations often exclusively target one policy domain. Furthermore, an analysis of the first experiences with the implementation of the French Duty of Vigilance law, which covers and gives equal weight to environmental and human rights risks, reveals that the inclusion of environmental and human rights standards in legal norms is not sufficient to ensure policy integration. The empirical focus here is on the soy and beef supply chains from Brazil to the European Union (EU), and the findings rely on an analysis of legal norms and company reports, field research at producing sites in Brazil and semi-structured interviews with civil society, business and state actors. For analyzing the data, I draw on the literature on environmental policy integration (EPI) and apply a framework that distinguishes between institutional, political and cognitive factors to discuss advances and challenges for integrating human rights and the environment in sustainability governance. The study concludes that more integrated approaches for regulating global supply chains would be needed to enable 'just sustainability'.
... Between 2002 and 2019, at least 1,946 environmental and land defenders were killed in 58 countries while taking "peaceful action to protect environmental or land rights, whether in their own personal capacity or professionally" (Global Witness, 2020). Many more have suffered from harassment, defamation, detention, and other forms of repression (Knox, 2017;Le Billon & Lujala, 2020). ...
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Article
Based on a review of 38 key documents from 27 organisations, this paper identifies important issues and recommendations to improve protection and support for environmental and land defenders. These include tackling root causes of risk by addressing legal gaps and weaknesses within environmental law, supporting anti-corruption initiatives, and recognising land rights; supporting and protecting ELDs by recognising their roles and rights and preventing abuse through dialogue between states, companies and defenders; adopting legal measures including the suspension of projects which do not address risks; ensuring corporate and government accountability for abuses by systematically monitoring, reporting and 'naming and shaming' of perpetrators, and legal procedures; adopting a rights-based approach of policies and regulations through the meaningful participation of environmental and land defenders; and developing legally binding instruments on access to information, public participation, and justice in environmental matters.
... The number of killings, harassment and threats remains massive and is on the increase in some parts of the world (Le Billon & Lujala, 2020;Bille Larsen et al., 2020 shows us how resolutions can be remobilised in specific situations for specific people. ...
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Article
Sand mining in Madhya Pradesh, one of the biggest states in Central India, is rampant. Over the years, unsustainable sand mining has caused great damage to the Narmada River and its tributaries. The Ken, Betwa, Sindh, Chambal and Son rivers which join Yamuna and Ganga Rivers have also been facing severe threats from ongoing illegal sand extraction. Sand is used as an abrasive or in concrete, extracted mainly through an open pit, but sometimes mined from beaches and inland dunes or dredged from ocean and river beds. Sand mining is a direct cause of erosion, and impacts the local aquatic wildlife. Various animals depend on sandy beaches for nesting, and mining has led to a decrease in their population. The government is taking steps to control mining activities in this region, particularly in protected areas like the National Chambal Sanctuary. Yet, intervention by concerned local authorities, including police and forest officials, and environmental defenders have resulted in retaliatory actions by the mining mafias.
... These groups have the country's rural areas once again in the grip of violence and a recrudescence of killings (Isacson, 2021). This development has devastating consequences on local communities, causing spirals of violence against indigenous, campesinos, forest and territorial defenders and forced displacement of communities (GW, 2021; Le Billon & Lujala, 2020;Meger & Sachseder, 2020;Nilsson & González Marín, 2020;Witness, 2019). ...
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Article
Non-technical summary Almost 6 years have passed since the Colombian peace agreement was signed. However, the promise of a ‘Stable and lasting peace’ is slipping away as the transition towards peace is increasingly tainted and overshadowed with violence. The future of Colombia is at a crossroad and without international support and action taken to monitor global supply chains, these particular drivers of conflict, violence and environmental degradation will persist. We summarize the current situation and shed light on the complexities of building peace in Colombia, with a particular focus on the environmental changes that took place since the peace agreement was signed. Technical summary The Colombian peace agreement officially ended one of the world's longest internal armed conflicts. But the transformation of land use that takes place in the wake of the peace agreement has made the historic inequalities of access to land more visible and revealed inherent and violent struggles over resources that persist across the country. In this briefing we analyse the current status of peacebuilding in Colombia and highlight the major barriers and challenges in the current peacebuilding efforts. We show how the last few years brought severe and negative repercussions for people, communities and the natural environment in Colombia as cattle ranching, ‘productive agriculture’ and extractive industries are increasingly encroaching into indigenous territories, protected areas and forest ecosystems, replacing diverse natural forests that support biodiversity and contribute to human well-being locally and globally. The resurging presence of numerous armed groups seeking to control the profitable drug trade and mineral deposits are a major problem and obstacle for building lasting and sustainable peace among people and with the natural environment in Colombia. We conclude this briefing with points that we see as crucial to support the implementation of the peace agreement. Social media summary Colombia's peacebuilding effort must foster environmental stewardship and respect its biological and cultural diversity.
... In 2020 alone, 227 lethal attacks (about four people a week) were recorded, making it the most dangerous year on record for environmental defenders (157). Seventy percent of attacked defenders were working to protect the world's forests from deforestation and industrial development (158). Over one-third of the fatal attacks targeted Indigenous people even though Indigenous communities make up only 5% of the world's population. ...
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Article
Community monitoring can track environmental phenomena, resource use, and natural resource management processes of concern to community members. It can also contribute to planning and decision-making and empower community members in resource management. While community monitoring that addresses the environmental crisis is growing, it also gathers data on other global challenges: climate change, social welfare, and health. Some environmental community monitoring programs are challenged by limited collective action and community participation, insufficient state responsiveness to data and proposals, and lack of sustainability over time. Additionally, community members monitoring the environment are increasingly harassed and sometimes killed. Community monitoring is more effective with improved data collection, improved data management and sharing, and stronger efforts to meet community information needs, enable conflict resolution, and strengthen self-determination. Other promising areas for development are further incorporating governance issues, embracing integrated approaches at the community level, and establishing stronger links to national and global frameworks.
... Sectors that are characterised by economic models based on resource extraction are considered to be particularly at risk (Frontline Defenders, 2020). Mining and the extraction of fossil fuels such as oil and gas have topped the list of deadliest sectors for years (Global Witness, s.a.; Le Billon and Lujala, 2020). However, killings are only the most extreme form of threat. ...
Article
With a focus on northern Chile – a region that has historically been influenced by mining – this paper investigates the restrictions imposed on civil society actors in opposition to mineral resource extraction. In doing so, it links two political and academic debates: natural resource extraction and civil society's operational space. Little literature investigates restrictions of civic space in relatively safe contexts like liberal democracies. Therefore, referring to van der Borgh and Terwindt (2012, 2014), who suggest that different political contexts produce different restrictions for civil society actors, this paper argues that a more sensitive approach to the form of restrictions in democratic contexts has to be developed. This paper draws on examples from the mining sector, which has been identified as particularly vulnerable with regard to civic space. Land and environmental defenders in northern Chile can be observed to be in a constant negotiation process to position themselves between cooperation with mining companies and resistance in order to preserve their operational space. Subtle restrictions may weaken their capacity to collectively take action and pursue economic, social, and/or ecological demands coherently.
... For example, the ability to pay for ethically sourced food and energy will be dependent upon economic power, whilst access to land to grow food for survival (ecological power) varies considerably. Similarly, white and class privilege can make acts of civil disobedience in western nations less risky, whereas environmental defenders in some Global South nations face murder, coercion and violence (Duncan, 2015;Le Billon & Lujala, 2020). At the other end of the spectrum, those who have materially benefited from current economic systems might be more inclined to utilise threat responses such as denial, entitlement and 'othering' to protect against threats associated with knowledge of harm to humans and non-human animals. ...
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Article
Climate change poses an existential threat to today’s and future generations. Within this context, important debates are taking place about the risk of individualising and de-contextualising both climate-related distress and denial. Seeking to re-centre context and power, we tentatively share our thoughts on how the Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF) might provide a useful lens to understand different responses to climate change. The paper draws on existing research, theory and experiences to elaborate on the domains of the PTMF, which include Power, Threat, Meaning, Threat Responses and Strengths. We focus on ideological and ecological power, with the latter proposed as a new aspect of power to be considered for future iterations of the PTMF. We illustrate how the different domains of the PTMF can be brought together to generate meta-narratives by offering a climate trauma pattern. We hope this article will be of use to activists, academics and professionals in supporting non-pathologising understandings of different reactions to climate breakdown while also suggesting ways to move forward.
... Environmental defenders protect environmental and human rights typically threatened by government-backed multinational business projects (Philippe Le Billon and Päivi Lujala 2020;Arnim Scheidel, Arnim Scheidel, et al. 2020;Dalena Le Tran, Dalena Le Tran, et al. 2021). Extractive industries' search for profits and resources leads to ecological distribution conflicts (also EDCs or environmental conflicts), or confrontations against corporations over disproportionate burdens and benefits from industrial activities (J Martinez-Alier and M O'Connor 1996). ...
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Article
Women environmental defenders continue to face marginalization despite their growing significance in ecological conflicts. The media’s role in empowering or further rendering them invisible is unclear. This study thus examines depictions of South African women defenders in news articles. A feminist critical discourse analysis of 98 media reports about 48 conflicts suggests a typology of the conflicts and the women involved. I argue that media depictions of women defenders can sometimes enact discursive violence by imposing agendas and stereotypes that do not reflect their lived realities. This study identifies two tropes depicting women defenders as desperate mothers or underdogs, which empowers yet silences diverse women in diverse ways. The implications of such archetypes are that reporting may not only oversimplify the complexity of their experiences, but also contribute to pressures on women to be self-sacrificing and docile.
... The authors identified at least 1,734 killings in more than 53 countries from 2002 to 2018. Most killings occurred in Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines (113). ...
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Article
This review engages with literature on authoritarian populism, focusing specifically on its relationship to the environment. We analyze hybrid combinations of authoritarianism and populism to explore three themes from the literature: environmental governance, social and political representations of nature, and resistance. In the environmental governance section, we analyze how governments have increasingly resorted to populist politics to expand extractivism; certain commodities with national security implications have become key commodities to be protected; and borders, frontiers, and zones of inclusion/exclusion have become flash points. In the social and political representations of nature section, we analyze settler colonialism and sacrifice zones as organizing principles for relations with the environment. In our final section on resistance, we review literature highlighting pushback to authoritarian populism from peasant, indigenous, and worker movements. Variants of populism and authoritarianism are likely to persist amid increasing competition over resources as components of responses to environmental and climate crisis.
... Scholars analysing environmental conflicts often focus on direct and physical violence against mobilising actors for environmental justice (Butt et al., 2019;Le Billon and Lujala, 2020;Scheidel et al., 2020;Tran et al., 2020). Nonetheless, other forms of violence appear in such conflicts and require attention (Navas et al., 2018). ...
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Analysing a sample of 3,033 environmental conflicts around the globe, we compared conflicts reporting no human health impacts to those reporting health impacts linked to toxic pollution. Our study suggests four main findings. First, health impacts are a key concern for working-class communities. Second, the long-term effects of toxic pollution undermine communities' ability to act preventively. Third, industrial activities, waste management and nuclear energy conflicts are more likely to report health impacts than other economic activities. Last, mobilising groups are reluctant to consider the closure of a polluting project a successful outcome because of the persistence of toxic pollution across time. Our results contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of what we have termed 'environmental health conflicts' (EHCs).
... Secondly, impunity on the behalf of perpetrators (for example labour inspections and access to remote locations are increasingly difficult in Brazil as workers' rights and environmental laws have been stripped back meaning criminal actors can grab land, and undertake human rights abuses Complimentary Contributor Copy without the state taking active steps to prevent this from occurring). Finally, socio-economic conflicts between groups requiring access to the forests in areas where there are both limited resources, and a perceived underutilized resource (Le Billion and Lujala 2020;Zeng et al. 2021). ...
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Radioactive contamination of the Yenisei River bottom and (including the contamination with transuranium elements) is the result of the long-term operation of the Mining and Chemical Combine, which manufactures plutonium for weapons. This study considers the behavior of a submerged macrophyte Elodea Canadensiscanadensis, one of the most widely spread species of aquatic plants in the River Yenisei River. The values of the accumulation coefficients obtained for 242Pu, 13100 ± 2100 L·kg-1, were close to the concentration factor for 241Am – 17100 ± 4300 L·kg-1, obtained for the Elodea shoots. The distribution of radionuclides between the structural components of aquatic plants depends mainly on the physicochemical properties of radionuclides and the composition of the aquatic environment. We studied the micro-distribution of the artificial radionuclide 241Am in the components of Elodea canadensis - a submerged macrophyte of the Yenisei River. The alpha-track analysis showed that the micro-distribution of 241Am within different components of the submerged plant E. canadensis was not uniform. 241Am distribution was found to be affected by the age of the leaf blades, state of the cells, and morphological features of the plant stem. The radionuclide 241Am penetrated into the plant cells through the cell wall of E. canadensis, but it was accumulated in the vacuoles rather than in the cell wall or cytoplasm. In this case, the integrity of the cell membranes was not damaged. It Studies the potential adaptation of one of the common aquatic macrophytes, Elodea canadensis, when immersed in a medium containing transuranium radionuclides. It was found that almost all of the studied 241Am and 242Pu do not show a clear external effect on the solid fragments of the plant (cell membranes). Thus, it was shown that Elodea canadensis is tolerant of anthropogenic radionuclides that differ in nature, physico-chemical properties, etc.
... The Greek and Roman writers make multiple references both to the benefits of soil quality and the threat of soil degradation, and by the 1500s in Europe soil was regarded as the key factor of an economy [11]. History is full of examples of land-related wars and conquests, often correlated with soil quality [13][14][15] and repression and killing of those seeking to protect land and soil quality continues today [16,17]. 1 The postwar era is notable for the creation of global and regional institutions such as the FAO, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Union (EU), all of which have been instrumental in relation to land and soil governance. Shortly after its creation in 1945, the FAO embarked on the world's first formal international attempt to address soil conservation as a global issue, via a report [44] and a conference in 1948 [45]. ...
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The continual loss and impairment of soil ecosystem services (SES) across the globe calls for a fundamental reconsideration of soil governance mechanisms. This critical synthesis charts the history and evolution of national and international soil law and seeks to unravel certain challenges that have contributed to this failure in governance. It describes and categorizes law and policy responses to different soil threats, and identifies a worrying widespread absence of legislation for oversight and protection of agricultural soils from urbanization, as well as a lack of clear legal mechanisms to determine national priorities for soil protection. A reduction in the world's prime farmland threatens SES, including food security, carbon storage and biodiversity. Falling between the stalls of agricultural and environmental law, the fate of farmland is often left to planners who do not see themselves as responsible for soils. Consequently, legal instruments with the greatest power to affect soil, sometimes irreversibly, are often framed and worded with little or no reference to the soil. Nevertheless, emerging conceptual frameworks might offer positive outcomes. The authors advocate robust holistic policies of soil governance and land use planning that place SES and natural capital at the heart of decision making.
... The number of killings, harassment and threats remains massive and is on the increase in some parts of the world (Le Billon & Lujala, 2020;Bille Larsen et al., 2020 shows us how resolutions can be remobilised in specific situations for specific people. ...
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Today, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) dominate the US livestock sector, some with numbers of animals that outsize US cities. Rural communities face considerable health, environmental and economic impacts as a result of these facilities. Neighbouring residents shoulder the greatest impacts, with limited capacity to defend themselves due to intimidation and industry’s co-option of government. We explore, through applied research, how some rural people are able to effectively defend their communities and influence policy change, despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
... Unfortunately, the balance of exports and imports has not yet been reached. At the same time, there is a risk of harming the interests of agricultural producers due to the sharp aggravation of global competition [4];minimizing the impact of illegal entrepreneurship, shadow processes and corruption in the agricultural sector on its sustainable and dynamic development;providing state support for lending to rural farms with limited agricultural activities (farmers, farmers, etc.) [5]. The state directs solid financial resources to this, and their targeted spending today needs close attention from the same employees of the ESAU divisions that serve the objects of the industry in question. ...
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This article deals with topical issues of effective regulation of agriculture, the development of a set of operational–search and other measures aimed at protecting and protecting the budget funds allocated by the state for the development of the agro–industrial complex.
... Governments may also enact climate policy through by provisioning public goods or services, specifically the use of national lands for mitigation programs, area-demanding or intrusive renewable energy production (solar, wind, hydro), afforestation projects, and associated infrastructure (Creutzig et al., 2011). However, use of national parks in particular has been criticized for providing unequal benefits and even direct conflict as the use is shifted to conservation (Carter et al., 2017;Le Billon & Lujala, 2020;Scheba & Rakotonarivo, 2016). ...
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Climate policies will need to incentivize transformative societal changes if they are to achieve emission reductions consistent with 1.5°C temperature targets. To contribute to efforts for aligning climate policy with broader societal goals, specifically those related to sustainable development, we identify the effects of climate mitigation policy on aspects of socioeconomic development that are known determinants of conflict and evaluate the plausibility and importance of potential pathways to armed conflict and political violence. Conditional on preexisting societal tensions and socioeconomic vulnerabilities, we isolate effects on economic performance, income and livelihood, food and energy prices, and land tenure as most likely to increase conflict risks. Climate policy designs may be critical to moderate these risks as different designs can promote more favorable societal outcomes such as equity and inclusion. Coupling research with careful monitoring and evaluation of the intermediate societal effects at early stages of policy implementation will be a critical part of learning and moderating potential conflict risks. Importantly, better characterizing the future conflict risks under climate policy allows for a more comprehensive comparison to the conflict risk if mitigation is not implemented and graver climate damages are experienced. This article is categorized under: • The Carbon Economy and Climate Mitigation > Benefits of Mitigation Abstract Climate policies that emphasize a fair distribution of benefits and compensation for unintended consequences will moderate the risks of violent conflict and future climate impacts.
... Second, millions of people are already acutely aware of the socio-ecological crises described by Bradshaw et al. (2021) because they face them every day. In fact, many of them are actively trying to stop the assault on the environments that they depend on for their livelihoods (Scheidel et al., 2018(Scheidel et al., , 2020, often risking their property, health and even their lives (Le Billon and Lujala, 2020). The idea that only the "future" will be "ghastly" reinforces a western, white and elitist framing of reality, since the present is already experienced as apocalyptic by many frontline communities (Silver, 2018;Whyte, 2020). ...
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Bradshaw et al. (2021) make a call to action in light of three major crises—biodiversity loss, the sixth mass extinction, and climate disruption. We have no contention with Bradshaw et al.’s diagnosis of the severity of the crises. Yet, their call for scientists to “tell it like it is,” their appeal to political “leaders,” and the great attention they afford to human population growth as a main driver underpinning the three crises, rest on contested assumptions about the role of science in societal transformations, and are scientifically flawed and politically problematic. In this commentary, we challenge Bradshaw et al.’s assumptions concerning the nature of science, polity, and humanity as well as the implicit politics underlying their analysis and messaging. We end with an alternative call to action.
... Second, millions of people are already acutely aware of the socio-ecological crises described by Bradshaw et al. (2021) because they face them every day. In fact, many of them are actively trying to stop the assault on the environments that they depend on for their livelihoods (Scheidel et al., 2018(Scheidel et al., , 2020, often risking their property, health and even their lives (Le Billon and Lujala, 2020). The idea that only the "future" will be "ghastly" reinforces a western, white and elitist framing of reality, since the present is already experienced as apocalyptic by many frontline communities (Silver, 2018;Whyte, 2020). ...
Article
Bradshaw et al. (2021) make a call to action in light of three major crises—biodiversity loss, the sixth mass extinction, and climate disruption. We have no contention with Bradshaw et al.’s diagnosis of the severity of the crises. Yet, their call for scientists to “tell it like it is,” their appeal to political “leaders,” and the great attention they afford to human population growth as a main driver underpinning the three crises, rest on contested assumptions about the role of science in societal transformations, and are scientifically flawed and politically problematic. In this commentary, we challenge Bradshaw et al.’s assumptions concerning the nature of science, polity, and humanity as well as the implicit politics underlying their analysis and messaging. We end with an alternative call to action.
... Scientific literature suggests the likelihood of killings as particularly acute in middle-income countries with semiauthoritarian regimes, high corruption and weak rule of law, a recent history of armed conflicts and/or high homicides rates, and frequent conflicts around resource exploitation projects, as seen in Latin America (Butt et al., 2019;Le Billon & Lujala, 2020). Killings and other attacks are in part facilitated by patterns of impunity for perpetrators, the lack of an independent and effective judiciary and media reporting, collusion between political, economic, and military elites, social "habituation" to homicides on the part of authorities-including as a result of recent armed conflicts, and state tolerated/encouraged vigilante activity (Middeldorp & Le Billon, 2019). ...
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Close to two thousand environmental human rights defenders have been killed in 57 countries since 2002, with about four losing their lives every week in 2019. Many of these defenders represent Indigenous Peoples and local communities protecting ecosystems from large-scale environmentally destructive projects. As the positive contributions of Indigenous and local communities to biodiversity conservation become better recognized, so should the losses and risks that they face. Despite major efforts at documenting abuses and protecting defenders, many blind spots and gaps remain. Here, we call for the conservation community to put the protection of defenders at the heart of its strategy to slow down and reverse the current onslaught on the environment. The conservation community can respond in a number of ways including reaching out to its constituencies , working together with the human rights community, and mobilizing its networks, field offices, and presence in remote areas to denounce abuses and counter isolation. In doing so the conservation community can advance the collective agenda bringing together conservation and environment-related human rights through the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
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The field of environmental peacebuilding (EP) addresses many of the critical issues related to negative human outcomes from environmental change, especially violent conflict. However, the direct health effects of human-produced pollution through resource extraction and/or material production and consumption are not a focus of the EP literature. This gap exists despite the fact that at least 7–9 million people die prematurely every year as a function of toxic pollution, making it the most important subset of the 13 million people whose deaths are caused by environmental hazards each year. Most of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where are found many of the resource conflicts and post-conflict environmental peacebuilding programs that EP has historically focused on and investigated. Including toxic pollution among the conflict cycles susceptible to peacebuilding investigations and practice is a natural and necessary progression, one that offers broad and ample opportunity for new lines of investigation, peace programming, and, most importantly, improvement of human security.
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The threat of continued violence is a primary concern in post-conflict societies. This article contributes to the literature on post-conflict violence by analyzing a specific phenomenon that has characterized Colombia since the signing of the 2016 peace agreement: the assassination of social leaders. Building on explanations that emphasize state weakness, illicit economies, and the role of illegal armed actors, we argue that the assassination of social leaders also responds to efforts by local elites to sustain local competitive authoritarian orders in the face of bottom-up threats to their power by sociopolitical actors mobilized around the local implementation of the peace agreement. Using a cross-sectional dataset of Colombian municipalities, we find that assassinations of social leaders are more likely and more frequent in municipalities with intermediate levels of party fragmentation and low levels of voter turnout—that is, in municipalities with restricted electoral competition. Furthermore, a higher share of votes for leftist parties, which signals the presence of challengers to local elites, correlates with a higher probability and a higher number of assassinations. Overall, this article suggests that the nature of local political orders constitutes a key dimension shaping the micro-dynamics of violence and repression in post-conflict contexts. La amenaza de la continuación de la violencia es una de las principales preocupaciones en las sociedades en posconflicto. Este artículo contribuye a la literatura sobre la violencia en el posconflicto analizando un fenómeno específico que ha caracterizado a Colombia desde la firma del acuerdo de paz de 2016: el asesinato de líderes sociales. Partiendo de las explicaciones que enfatizan la debilidad del Estado, las economías ilícitas y el papel de los actores armados ilegales, argumentamos que el asesinato de líderes sociales también responde a los esfuerzos de las élites locales para sostener los órdenes autoritarios competitivos locales frente a las amenazas a su poder por parte de los actores sociopolíticos movilizados en torno a la implementación local del acuerdo de paz. Utilizando un conjunto de datos de municipios colombianos, observamos que los asesinatos de líderes sociales son más probables y más frecuentes en municipios con niveles intermedios de fragmentación partidista y bajos niveles de participación electoral, es decir, en municipios con competencia electoral restringida. Además, se correlaciona una mayor proporción de votos a los partidos de izquierda, un indicador de la presencia de contendientes a las élites locales, con una mayor probabilidad de que ocurran asesinatos, así como un mayor número de casos. Como conclusión, este artículo sugiere que la naturaleza de los órdenes políticos locales constituye una dimensión clave que determina las microdinámicas de la violencia y la represión en contextos de posconflicto. Le risque de la poursuite des violences est une préoccupation majeure dans les sociétés post-conflit. Cet article contribue à la littérature sur la violence post-conflit en analysant un phénoméne spécifique qui caractérise la Colombie depuis la signature de l'accord de paix de 2016 : l'assassinat de leaders sociaux. En s'appuyant sur des explications qui mettent l'accent sur la faiblesse de l'État, les économies illicites et le rôle des acteurs armés illégaux, nous soutenons que l'assassinat des leaders sociaux répond également aux efforts des élites locales pour maintenir des ordres autoritaires compétitifs locaux face aux menaces à leur pouvoir de la part des acteurs sociopolitiques mobilisés autour de la mise en œuvre locale de l'accord de paix. En utilisant des données provenant de municipalités colombiennes, nous constatons que les assassinats de leaders sociaux sont plus probables et plus fréquents dans les municipalités où la concurrence électorale est limitée. En outre, une part plus importante de votes pour les partis de gauche, un indicateur de la présence de concurrents (challengers) aux élites locales, est corrélée à une plus grande probabilité d'assassinats, ainsi qu'à un nombre plus élevé de cas. En conclusion, cet article suggére que la nature des ordres politiques locaux constitue une dimension clé déterminant la micro-dynamique de la violence et de la répression dans les contextes post-conflit.
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This study contributes empirical data tracking gender in extractive violence cases from the Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas). The study also fills a gap in coverage on environmental assassinations not considering other factors of violence leading up to murders. Through log-linear and binominal regressions, this study analyzes gendered distributions of displacement, repression, criminalization, violent targeting, and murders worldwide. We found that 1) violence against women defenders is concentrated among mining, agribusiness, and industrial conflicts in the geographical South; 2) repression, criminalization, and violent targeting typically appeared together, whereas displacement and murder appeared as extreme outcomes when conflict violence worsened; 3) women defenders experience high rates of violence regardless of their countries’ levels of rule of law and gender equality. Reflecting global patterns of impunity, nearly all of the women defenders’ murders are still unresolved in courts, and their conflicts are still under negotiation.
Article
Nahua and Totonakú activists in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico, have challenged the state-sanctioned and corporate-driven imposition of small hydropower projects as sustainable development. They deploy a counter-hegemonic discourse that labels these projects as proyectos de muerte that perpetuate violence and rearticulate coloniality. Simultaneously, they engage in proyectos de vida that build an alternative future premised on Indigenous resurgence and autonomy. The findings illustrate the importance of analysing ontological dimensions of violence and demonstrate the urgency of articulating decolonial alternatives to the sustainable development paradigm and its approach to the renewable energy transition.
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En este trabajo realizamos un ejercicio autobiográfico y reflexivo con un doble propósito: (1) comprender cómo y por qué los tres autores arribamos a la investigación sobre conflictos ambientales con una visión muy parecida, pese a tener orígenes personales y estudios universitarios diferentes, aunque provenientes, sobre todo, de las ciencias naturales; y (2) contribuir al incipiente debate en la literatura académica sobre conflictos ambientales en torno a los beneficios versus las limitaciones de hacer ciencia comprometida, del lado de los afectados, utilizando un enfoque transdisciplinario.
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In democracies around the world, societies have demonstrated that elections can have major consequences for the environment. In Colombia, the 2022 presidential elections will take place at a time when progress towards peace has stalled and socioeconomic, security, and environmental conditions have deteriorated. The recent declines in these conditions largely coincide with the change of government after the 2018 elections, and the associated rise to power of a party that boycotted the peace negotiations from the beginning. These indicators suggest that 2018 marked the end of a decade of improvements in safety, wealth, and equality-societal factors that can interact with the environment in multiple ways. A spike in assassinations of land and environmental defenders in 2019 and 2020 made Colombia one of the most dangerous places in the world for environmentalists. With the 2022 presidential election, Colombians will once again decide who will govern the country and what new social, economic, and environmental policies will be implemented. In preparation for elections like this, we believe that it is important for scientists with relevant backgrounds to highlight relationships between political events and the environment, to enrich the political debate, help prioritize public resources, and inform policy-making. Here, we provide a multidisciplinary analysis of different socioeconomic and environmental trends that can help inform the public and decision-makers. We intend for this analysis to be useful not only in Colombia, but also to other societies under similar situations, managing biodiversity-rich ecosystems in socio-political environments of increasing violence, poverty, and inequality.
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In this article, by drawing on empirical evidence from twelve case studies from nine countries from across the Global South and North, we ask how radical grassroots social innovations that are part of social movements and struggles can offer pathways for tackling socio-spatial and socio-environmental inequality and for reinventing the commons. We define radical grassroots social innovations as a set of practices initiated by formal or informal community-led initiatives or/and social movements which aim to generate novel, democratic, socially, spatially and environmentally just solutions to address social needs that are otherwise ignored or marginalised. To address our research questions, we draw on the work of Cindi Katz to explore how grassroots innovations relate to practices of resilience, reworking and resistance. We identify possibilities and limitations as well as patterns of spatial practices and pathways of re-scaling and radical praxis, uncovering broadly-shared resemblances across different places. Through this analysis we aim to make a twofold contribution to political ecology and human geography scholarship on grassroots radical activism, social innovation and the spatialities of resistance. First, to reveal the connections between social-environmental struggles, emerging grassroots innovations and broader structural factors that cause, enable or limit them. Second, to explore how grassroots radical innovations stemming from place-based community struggles can relate to resistance practices that would not only successfully oppose inequality and the withering of the commons in the short-term, but would also open long-term pathways to alternative modes of social organization, and a new commons, based on social needs and social rights that are currently unaddressed.
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The State of Veracruz, Mexico, ranks second for the crime of femicide in México, in addition to this, a scenario of increasing precariousness that puts at risk the possibility of reproducing life in decent conditions. Faced with this, women of diverse origins have organized to work in the construction of caring communities, as possibilities to preserve their lives, territories and culture. We approach this problem from the stakes of feminist political ecology and community feminism, to understand the complexity of the tensions waged by those who seek to weave strategies for the reproduction of living, in the midst of a plundering system that attacks bodies, knowledge and territories and damages the ties and exchanges between women. Our reflection is centered on the experience of Nikan Tipowih, political pedagogical resistance, linked to the defense of the territory, knowledge and the Nahua language of the Sierra de Zongolica. Veracruz.
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This article introduces the special section on "The role of local participation in the governance of natural resource extraction". It highlights the inherent conflicts between official techno-regulatory and corporate schemes for citizen engagement and bottom-up, community-led participatory mechanisms for decision-making in extractive governance. This special section offers empirically and theoretically innovative analyses of participatory processes in extractive sectors in the Americas. This brief introduction highlights the need to study how 'local demands' are conceptualized within participatory frameworks and examine what role affected populations play in resisting and shaping transnational extractive policies and practices.
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Over the past two decades, the terms “environmental defenders”, “land defenders” and “environmental human rights defenders” have gained currency among NGOs, media and UN agencies. This has coincided with the development of an international infrastructure encompassing prizes, resolutions and resources to support and acknowledge defenders and their causes. However, the uptake of the term “environmental defenders” and related notions has been uneven across geographical areas, languages and those considered defenders. Listening to the voices of this last group themselves, this chapter considers two questions. First, it explores the connotations of the term “environmental defenders” and examines to what extent it corresponds to the ways those labelled in this way see and identify themselves and their work. Second, it looks at the ways in which the term empowers or, by contrast, disempowers, and the various advantages and drawbacks related to its use. We conclude by considering a number of ways in which those supporting or reporting on defenders can mitigate the inadvertent negative effects of the term, to which so far no alternative has emerged that is less contentious or better captures the heterogeneous groups that it designates.
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Uma condição de subdesenvolvimento tem marcado as nações do Sul Global desde a Segunda Guerra Mundial. A busca pelo desenvolvimento e pelo crescimento econômico tem tornado os países do Sul Global dependentes dos mercados globais e de investimentos internacionais, e tem feito o meio-ambiente e a natureza de refém da exploração capitalista. O processo de desenvolvimento e de crescimento econômico, combinado com uma história de colonização e depedência apresentam processos e estruturas violentas que são fontes de conflitos e instabilitade no Sul Global. Este artigo analiza criticamente a relação entre subdesenvolvimento e exploração do meio-ambiente no Sul Global e os resultados violentos que eles reproduzem. O artigo aponta que conflito e violência são inerentes ao modelo capitalista de desenvolvimento, ao invés de anomalias do sistema. Construindo a partir do campo de estudos decoloniais e de desenvolvimento crítico, este artigo propõe estratégias para superar a dependência ao extrativismo ao olhar para as alternativas de anti-extrativismo, decrescimento e buen vivir, de forma a libertar tanto as pessoas quanto o planeta.
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Extraction and conservation seem to be polar opposites, yet they entertain multiple relations as the 'greening' of extractive activities mobilizes conservation efforts to address the 'extinction crisis.' Drawing on a review of the literature and two case studies, this article discusses the politics of affinity and enmity shaping the extraction-conservation nexus, and partnerships. As crisis conservation and green extraction receive increased attention, the article suggests that the convergence of extraction and conservation is not only pragmatic, but also reflects shared discursive imaginaries and valuations of nature, practices materialized through spaces of 'double exception', and common politics of enmity directed at local communities that legitimize exclusionary practices rather than solve capitalism's contradictions.
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Resumen: El artículo establecerá relaciones entre conceptualizaciones de cuerpo-territorio y sostenibilidad de la vida, a partir de los enfoques desarrollados desde las prácticas de colectivos de mujeres movilizadas en Abya Yala. Argumentamos que estas nociones son claves para la conformación de horizontes ecofeministas en la región, que vinculan economía feminista y justicia ambiental. Nos basamos en elaboraciones producidas por sujetos políticos situados, teniendo como perspectiva los diálogos entre académicas y activistas. Palabras claves: cuerpo-territorio, sostenibilidadde la vida, ecofeminismo. Keywords: body-territory, sustainability of life, ecofeminism
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In the Mayan rural communities in the Yucatan peninsula, alternative social projects have been implemented by different actors, which focus on the promotion and production of the local pork species known as cerdo pelón. This represents an alternative to conventional industrialized pork breeding, mainly for profitability. Through a feminist political ecology lens, and an ethnographic methodology, findings reveal that these alternative projects have given way to an active resistance with positive results in the inclusion, in food security among participants, and in the revaluation of traditional practices. The article recommends that social projects prioritize the inclusion of women and the promotion of local biocultural heritage.
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Indigenous peoples’ relationship with mining involves tensions and conflicts that intensify in armed conflict and post-conflict environments. Studies of the intersection between mining, armed conflict and post-conflict peacebuilding portray Indigenous people as passive recipients post-conflict natural resource governance interventions. This paper challenges that perspective by demonstrating the active, highly organised and complex roles Indigenous people play in mineral resource governance in a post-agreement environment. Despite Colombian government interest in positioning high value mineral resource extraction as a platform for prosperity and peace, illegal gold mining has become a central source of finance for violent armed groups, and legal mining has been linked to threats to Indigenous rights. Many Indigenous communities in Colombia oppose mining. This paper examines Indigenous participation in natural resource governance concentrating on the resistance to certain forms of mining by the Nasa Indigenous people of North Cauca. It is based on an interpretative, layered ethnographic case study comprising archival research, interviews, and participant observation across various Nasa organisational and territorial domains. I find that the Nasa build on their strong moral and institutional frameworks for resistance to structure and implement a response to mining. I illustrate the Nasa's determinant role in post-conflict mining governance, as well as the moral tensions and dilemmas, and the risks the Nasa face in responding to mining in a violent context.
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Rural spaces are garnering new attention in illicit economies. At the confluence of the American continents, illicit commodities are being moved through rural Panama’s communities and iconic Darién forests. Over the last decade, the international media have focused on the uptick in human “migration” while the Panamanian press has chronicled dramatic illegal logging. Less acknowledged is the surge in drug smuggling and arms trafficking. Using media reports and mapping over the last twenty years, we ask how multi-commodity trafficking and human exploitation are remaking rural space. We provide the first synthetic and spatial overview of eastern Panama’s multiple trafficking, showing how it is altering social and environmental relationships. Media reports, many based on government seizures, indicate trafficking routes throughout the region, implying the involvement of much of the local population and resulting in new clientelistic social relationships between traffickers, residents, and the state. Increasingly, trafficking is driving land cover change, diminishing forest cover in private lands, protected areas, and indigenous lands and connecting them via a growing road network. Indigenous peoples’ conservation of forests hampers surveillance and makes their lands ideal for trafficking. This also means that they are the only ethnicity frequently named in the media, threatening indigenous sovereignty and land legalization efforts. We conclude that trafficking is a form of settler colonialism, continuing processes of taking that began in this area of the American mainland centuries ago. Rather than incidentally holding indigenous residents culpable, maligning them in trafficking’s transit area is fundamental to capitalist expansion, integrating it with the country’s dollarized economy, highly developed banking sector, and the canal’s global commerce. The continued transit of people and illegal commodities in eastern Panama is quickly transforming conservation, indigenous sovereignty, and sustainable development.
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We examine how weather variability affects agricultural landownership rates in Africa, where at least half of the population depends on agriculture to earn a livelihood. In the absence of effective adaptation strategies, households that experience difficulties farming due to environmental stress might leave their land. With implications for demography – through migration – and political instability – when affected populations express grievances – changing landownership patterns could make existing development challenges on the continent even more difficult. We test our hypothesis that drier than average growing seasons will reduce landownership rates using Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). Our DHS dataset includes interviews with 850,961 households in 35 African countries between 2005 and 2017. Compared to regions experiencing weather near the historical average, those with five consecutive dry growing seasons before the DHS experienced a 6.93% decline in the landownership rate. For every additional dry growing season during the five years before each survey, the landownership rate fell by 1.38%. A host of robustness checks support our general conclusion that drying conditions are associated with lower landownership rates.
Article
Over the course of several months in 2018, more than 240 people were arrested in Burnaby, BC, Canada for disrupting the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. While those arrested shared a willingness to defy Canadian law in opposition to this pipeline development, the police applied differing degrees of force and violence while making these arrests. Informed by interviews with land defenders and engagements on the frontlines of this conflict, this paper considers what these discrepancies in police tactics teach us about logics of settler colonial law, authority, and violence. We do so by engaging in a discussion of the foundational paradox of the state – that its constitutional law is unlawfully constituted – and by presenting the politics of recognition as a strategy employed by the settler colonial state in its attempts to reconcile the contradiction between the state’s claims to legal authority and its own unlawful foundations. However, whereas recognition and reconciliation are often presented in contrast to earlier more violent eras of colonial governance, we argue that colonial recognition is a logic of state violence which determines how, and against whom, state violence is distributed. When assertions of Indigenous jurisdiction take unrecognized or deviant forms, the state ultimately resorts to violence to remove these competing claims to legal authority. Moreover, we argue that police violence against Indigenous peoples asserting “sovereignty on the ground” should not be understood as merely a matter of law enforcement – rather, this is a productive form of violence through which the legal authority of the state is actively established.
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Recent research and policies recognize the importance of environmental defenders for global sustainability and emphasize their need for protection against violence and repression. However, effective support may benefit from a more systematic understanding of the underlying environmental conflicts, as well as from better knowledge on the factors that enable environmental defenders to mobilize successfully. We have created the global Environmental Justice Atlas to address this knowledge gap. Here we present a large-n analysis of 2743 cases that sheds light on the characteristics of environmental conflicts and the environmental defenders involved, as well as on successful mobilization strategies. We find that bottom-up mobilizations for more sustainable and socially just uses of the environment occur worldwide across all income groups, testifying to the global existence of various forms of grassroots environmentalism as a promising force for sustainability. Environmental defenders are frequently members of vulnerable groups who employ largely non-violent protest forms. In 11% of cases globally, they contributed to halt environmentally destructive and socially conflictive projects, defending the environment and livelihoods. Combining strategies of preventive mobilization, protest diversification and litigation can increase this success rate significantly to up to 27%. However, defenders face globally also high rates of criminalization (20% of cases), physical violence (18%), and assassinations (13%), which significantly increase when Indigenous people are involved. Our results call for targeted actions to enhance the conditions enabling successful mobilizations, and for specific support for Indigenous environmental defenders.
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The new economic flows ushered in across the South by the rise of China in particular have permitted some to circumvent the imperial debt trap, notably the ‘pink tide’ states of Latin America. These states, exploiting this window of opportunity, have sought to revisit developmentalism by means of ‘neo-extractivism’. The populist, but now increasingly authoritarian, regimes in Bolivia and Ecuador are exemplars of this trend and have swept to power on the back of anti-neoliberal sentiment. These populist regimes in Bolivia and Ecuador articulate a sub-hegemonic discourse of national developmentalism, whilst forging alliances with counter-hegemonic groups, united by a rhetoric of anti-imperialism, indigenous revival, and livelihood principles such as buen vivir. But this rhetorical ‘master frame’ hides the class divisions and real motivations underlying populism: that of favouring neo-extractivism, principally via sub-imperial capital, to fund the ‘compensatory state’, supporting small scale commercial farmers through reformism whilst largely neglecting the counter-hegemonic aims, and reproductive crisis, of the middle/lower peasantry, and lowland indigenous groups, and their calls for food sovereignty as radical social relational change. These tensions are reflected in the marked shift from populism to authoritarian populism, as neo-extractivism accelerates to fund ‘neo-developmentalism’ whilst simultaneously eroding the livelihoods of subaltern groups, generating intensified political unrest. This paper analyses this transition to authoritarian populism particularly from the perspective of the unresolved agrarian question and the demand by subaltern groups for a radical, or counter-hegemonic, approach to food sovereignty. It speculates whether neo-extractivism’s intensifying political and ecological contradictions can foment a resurgence of counter-hegemonic mobilization towards this end.
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Every year, more people are killed defending the environment than are soldiers from the United Kingdom and Australia on overseas deployments in war zones combined. During the last 15 years, the number of both deaths of environmental defenders, and the countries where they occur, have increased. Recorded deaths have increased from two per week to four per week over this period. These deaths are primarily related to conflict over natural resources, across a range of sectors. Of 683 total deaths, >230 were related to mining and agribusiness between 2014 and 2017. We find that rule of law and corruption indices are closely linked to patterns of killings. Using spatial data, we investigate the drivers of these conflicts and violence and seek to identify who may be most at risk and why. We argue that businesses, investors and national governments at both ends of the chain of violence need to be more accountable.
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Environmental and resource governance models emphasize the importance of local community and civil society participation to achieve social equity and environmental sustainability goals. Yet authoritarian political formations often undermine such participation through violent repression of dissent. This article seeks to advance understandings of violence against environmental and community activists challenging authoritarian forms of environmental and resource governance through eco-populist struggles. Authoritarianism and populism entertain complex relationships, including authoritarian practices toward and within eco-populist movements. Examining a major agrarian conflict and the killing of a prominent Indigenous leader in Honduras, we point to the frequent occurrence of deadly repression within societies experiencing high levels of inequalities, historical marginalization of Indigenous and peasant communities, a liberalization of foreign and private investments in land-based sectors, and recent reversals in partial democratization processes taking place within a broader context of high homicidal violence and impunity rates. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of deadly repression on environmental and land defenders. Key words: authoritarianism, environmental defenders, Honduras, populism, repression.
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Environmental and resource governance models emphasize the importance of local community and civil society participation to achieve social equity and environmental sustainability goals. Yet authoritarian political formations often undermine such participation through violent repression of dissent, including through killings. This paper seeks to advance understandings of violence against environmental and community activists challenging authoritarian forms of environmental and resource governance through eco-populist struggles. Authoritarianism and populism entertain complex relationships, including authoritarian practices towards and within eco-populist movements. Examining a major agrarian conflict and the killing of a prominent Indigenous leader in Honduras, we point at the frequent occurrence of deadly repression within societies experiencing high levels of inequalities, historical marginalization of Indigenous and peasant communities, a liberalization of foreign and private investment into land-based sectors, and recent reversals in partial democratization processes taking place within a broader context of high homicidal violence and impunity rates. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of deadly repression on environmental and land defenders.
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Investments in large-scale land-based projects increased over the past two decades, with a concomitant rise in community-level resistance. Drawing from data on resistance movements, literature findings, and two case studies in Senegal, this paper compares movements resisting either agro-industrial or mining projects. Building on contentious politics and materialist approaches from political ecology we find that outcomes seem largely case-dependent and determined by political opportunities, while resistance motives, narratives and more confrontational practices differ across both sectors. We suggest that this can be explained through sector-specific material, discursive and institutional factors. Our findings shed light on challenges for cross-sectoral alliances.
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This article analyses protests about the extractive industries in Colombia from 2000 to 2015, unveiling seven different “streams of contention” involving different participants, motives and targets. Protest events often reflected underlying socio-environmental conflicts, but others were sparked by frustrations over wages and a lack of economic opportunities for locals. Despite some signs of diffusion and coordination, social mobilisation linked to the extractive industries appeared to be fragmented during this period: protesters often focused on narrow, localised demands and were unlikely to build coalitions. The article draws attention to how using protest events as the unit of observation of social mobilisation can improve our understanding of its actors, motives, and targets.
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This article reports on trends in organized violence and peace agreements collected by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP). The number of fatalities in organized violence decreased for the fourth consecutive year, to reach the lowest level since 2012. In 2018, UCDP recorded almost 76,000 deaths: a decrease of 20% compared to 2017, and 43% compared to the latest peak in 2014. State-based armed conflict drives this downward trend in organized violence, with Syria accounting for much of the change. The number of civilians killed in one-sided violence also dropped in 2018, reaching its lowest level since 2012. In contrast, non-state conflict remained on a high level. The general decline in fatalities from organized violence does not correspond with the trend in the number of active conflicts. In fact, the world has seen a new peak in the number of conflicts after 2014, matched only by the number of conflicts in the early 1990s. In 1991, the peak in the number of armed conflicts corresponded with a similar peak in the number of signed peace agreements. This was followed by a decrease in the number of conflicts in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, the most recent rise in armed conflicts has not been matched by a similar rise in the number of peace agreements. Two circumstances that characterize the recent rise in conflicts have also been found to make conflicts harder to solve: explicit religious claims and high levels of internationalization.
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Research suggests a positive link between foreign direct investment (FDI) and human rights. In this study, we revisit this relationship and find that FDI does not produce significant improvements in human rights conditions. Both flow and stock measures of FDI are negatively associated with human rights ratings, with the negative effect of stock being notably larger. We discuss complications associated with the use of flow measures in panel estimation and argue that stock measures represent what scholars more likely have in mind when estimating the longitudinal effect of foreign capital. We then show that stock's negative effect is robust to several methodological concerns, including denominator effects in the foreign investment rate, information effects in the dependent variable, endogeneity in the FDI–human rights relationship, and the removal of wealthy countries and influential observations from our models. Finally, we find that stock's negative effect is significantly smaller in democratic regimes. Overall, the results suggest that foreign capital does not improve human rights conditions, and it may prove detrimental, especially in authoritarian states.
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This paper argues that the activities of environmental protectors often mitigate climate change, and therefore the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Human Rights Council (HRC) should extend explicit protection to land and environmental defenders on this basis. First, we overview who and where protectors are, what they are protecting, and annual data on protector murders. Next, we examine the case of Berta Cáceres, murdered in Honduras in 2016, to show collusion of state and capital in defender silencing. Then we show how criminalization of defenders is a strategy to undermine their public support, followed by assessment of the powerlessness of international law to hold oppressors accountable. Next, we connect protectors to climate change by indicating mitigation consequences of their work. Finally, we explain a factor common to the UNFCCC and the HRC that precludes their recognition of protectors' activities as mitigation, particularly with respect to women defenders, and make recommendations concerning how international law might more effectively protect defenders.
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Foreign investment in Africa's mineral resources has increased dramatically. This paper addresses three questions raised by this trend: do commercial mining investments increase the likelihood of social or armed conflict? If so, when are these disputes most prevalent? And, finally, what mechanisms help explain these conflicts? I show, first, that mining has contrasting effects on social and armed conflict: while the probability of protests or riots increases (roughly doubling) after mining starts, there is no increase in rebel activity. Second, I show that the probability of social conflict rises with plausibly exogenous increases in world commodity prices. Finally, I compile additional geo-spatial and survey data to explore potential mechanisms, including reporting bias, environmental harm, in-migration, inequality, and governance. Finding little evidence consistent with these accounts, I develop an explanation related to incomplete information—a common cause of conflict in industrial and international relations. This mechanism rationalizes why mining induces protest, why these conflicts are exacerbated by rising prices, and why transparency dampens the relationship between prices and protest.
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Mounting evidence suggests that a large portion of the world's fossil fuel reserves will have to remain in the ground to prevent dangerous climate change. Yet, the fossil fuel industry continues to invest in new infrastructure to expand fuel supply. There appears to be a prevailing logic that extraction is inevitable, in spite of growing climate change concerns. Few political leaders seem to be willing to challenge this logic. The absence of adequate political action on climate change has sparked a burgeoning social movement focused on constraining fossil fuel supply. This article describes this movement, and explores the role that social mobilization may play in enabling policies that limit fossil fuel extraction. Drawing from literature on social mobilization and political change, this work: (1) discusses some of the social and political barriers to mobilization focused on restricting fossil fuel supply; (2) describes the pathways through which mobilization efforts may influence climate policy; and (3) highlights insights from studies of successful social movements that have relevance for the issue of fossil fuel extraction. The article concludes with directions for future research on social mobilization focused on supply-side climate policy. Key policy insights • Enacting policies to limit fossil fuel supply has proven challenging in many contexts. • There is renewed interest in the role social movements may play in shifting the political landscape, to make it more likely that policies to restrict fossil fuel extraction may succeed. • Effective social mobilization requires a combination factors aligning at the right time to influence policy outcomes, such as windows of political opportunity opening, and compelling framing that calls citizens to action. • Critical examination of the factors that lead to movement success is necessary to understand the circumstances where social mobilization may influence supply-side climate policies.
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Empirical tests of the “resource curse” thesis have provided inconclusive evidence for the claim that natural resource abundance increases the risk of social conflict. The present article argues, based on a novel political economy framework and a new data set, that it is important to analyze how states regulate the access to their natural resources to understand the interrelationship between resources and public resistance against resource extraction arrangements. We claim that international rather than state resource ownership fosters the regional protest potential and overshadows the efficiency gains that foreign investment might create. Especially the siphoning of resource rents to international owners instigates resentment among the local population. Distinguishing between private, public, domestic and international ownership arrangements, we assess the effects of natural resources control rights regimes on state repression using new GIS-based data on diamond and gold mines as well as oil and gas fields in Sub-Sahara Africa. Our multilevel analysis shows that repression as an answer to societal dissent is particularly likely in grids hosting international oil companies. Furthermore, we find that international oil firms further state repression especially under insecure property rights.
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The pace of mineral extraction has greatly accelerated since the mid-1950s, with a major mineral boom taking place in the past decade. Responding to growing demands for more material resources, mining projects have met with frequent resistance from local communities. Yet, not all communities oppose mining projects. Based on an extensive literature review, this paper identifies and discusses factors affecting the likelihood of resistance to mining projects by local communities. Case study evidence suggests that dependency towards mining companies, political marginalisation, and trust in institutions tend to reduce resistance likelihood. In contrast, large environmental impacts, lack of participation, extra-local alliances, and distrust towards state and extractive companies tend to increase resistance, while economic marginalisation, corporate social responsibility activities, remoteness and attachment to place have mixed effects. Systematic assessments of these factors could further confirm patterns of resistance, clarify the needs for local consent processes, and help inform the creation of ’no-go’ areas for mining projects to the mutual benefit of companies, communities, and government authorities otherwise affected by socio-environmental impacts and costly deadlocks.
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In this paper we assume that humanity and the planet are immersed in a process of metabolic transformation that is already causing even a debate about a new geological period - Anthropocene or Capitalocene? - In which the human species would be the main agent. Urban-rural relationships are being transformed in such a way that the sciences need to break with their greatest source of inspiration - the idea force of the domination of nature - as formulated by Francis Bacon. We live in such a paradox, in terms that since 2007, according to the UN, with an urban population greater than rural, which is at the same time in present terms, almost double the traditional peasants and communities that there was in 1960. Demand of matter and energy to sustain the cities increases exponentially reinforced by an economy subject to the crematística and to the logic of the incessant accumulation of capital. The second Promethean revolution with fossil fuels provided the material conditions that led to the metabolic breakdown that threatens humanity and the planet today. In this context, a new phase of expropriation violence is in charge of humanity and against it emerge social groups in the struggle for the social reappropriation of nature (Leff) or simply to maintain their relations with the vital conditions of the earth , Water, photosynthesis, soil-subsoil. The struggle for the agrarian reform is resignified as the struggle for the land and for the Earth.
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I ask how the location of a protest affects how forcefully governments crack down. This geography of repression provides insight into a larger strategic problem: under what conditions do leaders meet protests with violence? I argue that protests in rural areas pose a smaller threat and, thus, prompt less frequent intervention. However, when governments decide to repress rural protests, they are less concerned that lethal repression might incite a backlash, as there are fewer bystanders in more rural areas that can join the fray. I uncover two patterns consistent with this theory: (1) repression is 30 percent more frequent in response to social conflicts in urban areas; but (2), if the state does employ repression, it is 75 percent more likely to kill dissidents in rural areas. The empirical relationships I report cannot be explained by reporting bias, international sanctioning, proximity to past armed conflicts, or the presence of natural resources.
Article
When people learn that demonstrators are being subjected to harsh treatment by the police, sometimes their reaction is to join demonstrations. What explains the potentially mobilizing power of repression? Information-oriented theories posit that repression changes people’s beliefs about the likely success of the protests or the type of the government, thus encouraging them to join. Social–psychological theories posit that repression provokes a moral and emotional reaction from bystanders, and these emotional reactions are mobilizing. Our research offers a rare opportunity to test these theories, empirically, against one another. We offer experimental evidence from Turkey after the 2013 Gezi uprising. In this setting, emotional reactions appear to be the link between repression and backlash mobilization. Information-oriented theories of backlash mobilization may be less germane in democracies, in which people already have access to information about their governments, and in highly polarized polities, in which few people’s political affinities are up for grabs.
Article
This paper demonstrates the presence of an inverted U-shaped relationship between fatal crimes against environmental and land activists and income per capita for a group of 34 countries from 2002-2013. Using panel data estimation techniques, the results are robust to controlling for rule of law, control of corruption, deforestation, homicide rates, and natural resource dependence. We thus provide evidence of a relationship between economic growth and the safety of environmental activists, where at some point in country's economic development environmental murders decrease with additional income. Furthermore, our results offer support to the findings of the Fifth Assessment Report of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which imply that physical security in the context of environmental disputes is likely an environmental amenity which is increasingly in demand, especially as incomes grow. Additional results suggest that the background level of fatal crimes (excluding environmental murders) is positively related to environmental murders and the relationship between increased forest cover and environmental murders can be positive or negative thereby confounding forestry-based policy recommendations.
Article
Prominent theories stress the role of economic grievances in promoting political instability and conflict. They often point to inequality in the ownership of land as a primary source of such grievances. However, cross-national empirical studies fail to confirm a link between unequal distributions of land and civil war. These findings, I contend, stem from problems in theorizing and measuring rural inequality. This article distinguishes between the effects of total landholding inequality and the concentration of land ownership on conflict. Total landholding inequality, which includes landlessness, captures economic grievances in the countryside and is positively associated with conflict. Gini coefficients of landholding concentration capture both grievances and landowners’ capacity to organize as rebels and a repressive rural elite. The relationship between landholding Ginis and conflict is shaped like an inverted “U”: inequality correlates with an increasing likelihood of conflict, but as the concentration of landholdings reaches very high levels, the likelihood of conflict decreases with the formation of a small repressive class of landowners. Results of cross-national regressions—using new data on total landholding inequality and the concentration of landholdings—confirm these predictions. My findings provide evidence that landholding inequality is an important underlying cause of civil war.
Article
This article discusses contentious politics and social movements, specifically during the Philippines' turmoil of January 2001. It first defines 'contentious politics', and then relates it to social movement. It identifies the many ways of studying the dynamics of contention and ends with a study of democracy, violence, and several questions of the future of social movements.
Article
This paper builds on the case study work into conflict between mining firms and nearby communities through a statistical analysis of the determinants of social conflict at the local level in the mining sector in Latin America. The analysis is based on an original dataset of 640 geo-located mining properties at the advanced exploration stage and above, which includes GIS information on environment and land-use patterns around the property, sub-national socio-economic characteristics of the population, firm and mining property characteristics, as well as information about known social conflicts.
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Article
The empirical literature that examines cross-national patterns of state repression seeks to discover a set of political, economic, and social conditions that are consistently associated with government violations of human rights. Null hypothesis significance testing is the most common way of examining the relationship between repression and concepts of interest, but we argue that it is inadequate for this goal, and has produced potentially misleading results. To remedy this deficiency in the literature we use cross-validation and random forests to determine the predictive power of measures of concepts the literature identifies as important causes of repression. We find that few of these measures are able to substantially improve the predictive power of statistical models of repression. Further, the most studied concept in the literature, democratic political institutions, predicts certain kinds of repression much more accurately than others. We argue that this is due to conceptual and operational overlap between democracy and certain kinds of state repression. Finally, we argue that the impressive performance of certain features of domestic legal systems, as well as some economic and demographic factors, justifies a stronger focus on these concepts in future studies of repression.
Article
Human Rights Quarterly 17.1 (1995) 170-191 Current US foreign policy goals put great stress on extending democracy, and US legislation -- never systematically enforced -- has banned aid to gross violators of human rights for two decades, making exceptions for aid which benefits needy people. Gross violations of human rights which are criminalized in international law include genocide, extrajudicial executions, and torture. These violations are labeled herein as violations of life-integrity. Based on a coded content analysis of Amnesty International Reports for 1987 and Freedom House rankings, this article will examine the relationship between life-integrity violations and freedom in 145 states during 1987 and will probe two alternate hypotheses. Our findings support the second, which asserts that there will be more conflict mobilized and incentives for repression -- i.e., worse violations of life integrity -- as democracy is extended before it is fully institutionalized (More Murder in the Middle). This article further examines the effects of ethnic discrimination, war, development, and inequality (and the linkages among them) on life-integrity violations, and considers the implications for research and policy. Since the end of the Cold War, democracy has gained new ground in many states and has become a renewed object of US foreign policy in the Clinton Administration. The sterile and ideological debate over the precedence, linkage, or priority of social and economic rights versus political and civil rights in less developed or poorer states has been almost forgotten as people in those states protest and rebel against their authoritarian governments. One premise of the ideological assertion that political and civil rights must be subordinated for the sake of development was that despotism led to economic growth. The assumption that authoritarianism was more likely than democracy to produce growth has been disconfirmed by Kurzman, reviewing three decades of data: 1952-1982. Several questions can be posed about these developments. Do democracy and democratization protect the most basic of human rights? What are the most basic rights? Why should we expect that it does? If it does not, how can this be explained? I begin with the assumption that the right to exist and to be free from bodily invasion and terror of being caught, held, and disappeared is a basic desideratum among humans which transcends culture and ages. Sociologically, rights are claims successfully wrested from governments and other power holders. I label certain acts as violations of life-integrity because the violations negate an integrated set of claims respecting the biological and social integration of persons and groups: A) the integrity of mind and body (denied by genocide, murder, torture, and terror); B) of being the owner of one's labor and being able to move (denied by slavery, segregation, and apartheid); C) the integration of self and family which creates progeny (denied by prohibiting marriage and family development); and D) of the reciprocal guarantees for the protection of human groups (denied by genocide). These rights, and their violations (see Figure 1) are defined in international law and in four of six cases criminalized by special conventions. For two decades, US domestic laws regulating foreign aid have recognized these rights under "respect for the integrity of the person" in the annual State Department report on countries' human rights practices. Although there is hypothetically more than one dimension of life-integrity (e.g., rights 4, 5, and 6 in Figure 1 might have another dimension behind them), the present research examines only one dimension, Dimension A, which includes the right to life; the right to personal inviolability; and the right to be free of fear of arbitrary seizure, detention, and punishment. [Figure 1] Given the similarity between Dimension A (hereinafter referred to as life-integrity) and the substance of guarantees of personal security dating from the Magna Carta which are embedded in the western liberal tradition, one might expect that the more states embodied the ideal of liberal democracy, the higher respect such states would have for life-integrity (or the more checks there would be against violations). Citizens would be free to express themselves and to participate politically without fear of loss of life, liberty, and violation by state agents. Thus, respect...
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