Mark Aspinwall, Profesor Investigador Titular de la División de Estudios Internacionales, escribió el artículo Bringing Rights to Life: How Civil Society Organizations Help Guarantee Participation Rights in Developing Countries en la revista The Extractive Industries and Society.
In developing countries, weaknesses in state institutions mean that rights to participate in environmental impact assessments (EIA) often go unheeded. Vulnerable communities are unaware of rights, lack information on extractive projects, and find themselves unable to contribute to important aspects of assessment. For communities affected by large scale extractive projects, this absence of participation and influence can be especially problematic. However, civil society organizations have emerged to fill this gap, and it is essential that we develop a better understanding of their role. In Mexico, I show how CSOs use their informational, communication, legal, and other skills and experience to connect communities to EIA processes, so that their rights to participate are made real. I draw from a variety of primary source documents from public institutions, interviews with CSO and environmental ministry personnel, CSO reports, and secondary sources from local media and academics. Careful analysis of the sources helps build a picture of the role of CSOs, and alternatively, how participation would have looked without their involvement. I examine three mining projects in which public consultation and participation guarantees had been ignored. The results show that centrally-placed CSOs play a key role in rectifying state shortcomings.
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