New Book Explores Role of Catholic Peacemakers in Solving Global Mining Issues | News | Notre Dame News

Catholic Peacebuilding and Mining

From cell phones to computers to life-saving medical technologies, the daily lives of people around the world are intertwined with the materials produced by the global mining industry. A new book from Catholic Peacebuilding Network (CPN) argues that the Catholic community can make a distinctive contribution by addressing mining issues through the prism of peacebuilding. Considerable work has been done on mining and development ethics, environmental ethics and corporate social responsibility, but little has been done to integrate this work, link it to the practices of the Catholic community in conflict zones and consider it from a Catholic peacebuilding perspective.

The book, “Catholic Peacebuilding and Mining: Integral Peace, Development and Ecology” (Routledge)is co-edited by Caesar Montevecchiodeputy director of the CPN, and Gerard PowersDirector of Catholic Peacebuilding Studies and Coordinator of CPN, and stems from a series of conversations hosted by CPN in response to concerns from CPN partners around the world about how mining fuels conflict in their local contexts.

“Most people are fleetingly aware of the issues surrounding conflict minerals, the literal fights for control of resources, and the ways mining can be used to fund militants and insurgents,” Montevecchio said. “But that’s really only part of the problem. Mining touches on issues of indigenous rights, land ownership, environmental pollution and degradation, and international development.

Montevecchio also notes that a Catholic peacebuilding perspective on mining is relevant because the Church is one of the few institutions in the world that has the kind of vertical and horizontal reach that can run parallel and equal to that of the mining industry. The challenge, as he and Powers explain in the introduction to the book, is to translate “the capacity for an integrated approach into real collaboration between the various actors in the church at different levels”.

The book includes chapters that address the issue of mining and peacebuilding from perspectives such as Catholic social teaching, development theory, economics, corporate social responsibility and theology. . It also contains case studies of mining, its impact and local responses to it in contexts such as Colombia, El Salvador, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines and Peru.

In his book chapter, Cardinal Peter KA Turkson, former Prefect of the Holy See Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, examines the relationship between mining and peacebuilding through the lens of the Christian Scriptures, using the Bible to establish a moral basis for evaluating mining and the mining industry.

“The symbolic use of the precious metal in scripture ascribes to the metal a character and value that transcends its earthly value and use, namely, as a mere source and instrument of wealth,” writes Turkson. “Can the industry that so skilfully and dexterously seeks to possess these precious metals be guided by any other purpose and vision, besides that of possessing or having wealth on earth?”

Ray OffenheiserDirector William J. Pulte of Notre Dame Pulte Institute for Global Development, writes about the need for mining companies to move from operating with impunity to negotiating and gaining the consent of local communities. Offenheiser has played a major role in addressing issues at the intersection of mining and development, including serving as president of Oxfam America for more than 20 years.

“Mining companies are now realizing that achieving a sustainable social license to operate is essential and will require a much greater commitment to engage a wide range of local and global stakeholders, and is far more involved than a vague exercise punctual at the start of a project,” said Offenheiser. “This will involve a serious commitment to building trust and a shared sense of purpose with local communities regarding the long-term well-being and prosperity of a region. Companies looking to invest over a 30-50 year period need to recognize that they need to go beyond a traditional ‘extractive industry’ to become a reliable ‘development partner’.

Father Rigobert Minani, SJ, research manager for the Department of Peace, Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance at the Center for Social Action Studies in the DRC and team leader for the Ecclesial Network of the Congo Basin Forest , explores the particular role of the Church in resolving conflicts arising from mining in the DRC. The DRC is one of the world’s largest sources of cobalt and coltan, two minerals in high demand in Silicon Valley.

“Minerals are the fuel of war in the DRC today, and good [resource] management could favor the consolidation of peace in the DRC,” Fr. Minani said, who also noted that the Catholic Church in the DRC has created a special episcopal commission to oversee the governance of natural resources and educate local communities on the intersection of mining and peacebuilding.

Another chapter focuses on the Catholic approach to extractive industries in Colombia. Sandra Polanía-Reyes, associate professor of economics at the University of Navarre in Spain, and Monseñor Héctor Fabio Henao, director of Caritas Colombia, discuss mining in the context of a resource-rich country where mining is seen by some as the best way to deliver a peace dividend after decades of conflict.

“Unless human rights are promoted and protected as they should be, and there is a transparent agreement on how the extractive industries should be managed, the implementation of the peace process will not succeed. said Polanía-Reyes.

In Colombia, the Catholic Church has accompanied those most affected by ongoing conflicts, including ex-combatants, internally displaced people, immigrants from Venezuela and low-income communities. Polanía-Reyes notes that this accompaniment has “collected micro-data that allows policymakers, advocates and academics to present the challenges as they really are and to propose effective solutions” which, hopefully, will be also relevant in contexts beyond Colombia.

Overall, CPN hopes this book will add visibility to how mining and the consumer behaviors that drive it fuel conflict around the world and empower people to take action in their own context. . The editors also hope to illustrate ways the Church can support to better foster responses that incorporate the many different dynamics at play in this issue.

Laurie Johnson, associate professor of theology and religious studies at Emmanuel College in Boston, wrote the book’s conclusion and hopes that a careful reading of it will help people see how this problem is not just global , but personal.

“I’m talking to you right now on a phone that probably has coltan from the Congo, possibly mined by children,” Johnston said. “We all have intimate ties to this injustice. Laudato Si’ helps us realize that we cannot fight climate change without considering human rights, and that we cannot address war and work for peace without addressing environmental factors. We need a just ecological peace.

The CPN Secretariat is housed at the University of Notre Dame Kroc Institute for International Peace Studiespart of the Keough School of Global Affairs.

Originally posted by Hannah Heinzekehr at to January 31, 2022.

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