Dutch support for reconciliation in mining region

April 6, 2018

Dutch Minister Blok will visit Colombia today bringing along a message of support for peace and for a reconciliation dialogue between mining companies and victims of human rights violations in the coal mining region of Cesar. In the lead up to Blok’s visit his colleague minister Kaag (Foreign Aid and Trade) welcomed a resolution of the Dutch Parliament which asked for this support.

PAX program leader Joris van de Sandt: “We are very pleased that the Dutch government is willing to state its support for a reconciliation dialogue since it could pave the way to a process that assures that victims of grave human rights violations will be compensated.”

Energy companies
The resolution that was tabled by the Green Party also calls upon energy companies to follow the lead of energy company Vattenfall. Last November, Vattenfall published a Human Rights Risk Assessment that recognizes that coal mining has taken place in a context of violence, conflict and corruption in which many people have been victimized. The report includes a requirement that mining companies should take concrete efforts to engage in constructive dialogue with victims of past human rights violations. 

Vattenfall has made clear that these requirements and other recommendations need to be translated into an action plan that mining companies need to agree to and implement. The company also stated: “Should we reach the conclusion that a company is not willing to agree on an action plan or has not met an agreed action plan within reasonable time frames, we will seek to temporarily cease imports, followed by disengagement if matters remain unsolved.”

PAX applauded Vattenfall and called upon other energy companies to follow Vattenfall’s example. Van de Sandt: “We are glad that the Dutch government has agreed to call upon energy companies to follow Vattenfall’s lead and require from their coal suppliers that they take part in a direct dialogue with victims of human rights violations in the mining area.”

Meeting with minister Holguín
During his visit to Colombia Minister Blok will have a meeting with Colombian minister Holguín. PAX has send minister Blok a letter asking him to transmit his support for the efforts of the Colombian government towards a dialogue between mining companies active in Cesar and victims of human rights violations. This January, Paula Gaviria, Presidential Advisor for Human Rights expressed her support for a reconciliation dialogue in a public letter addressed to representatives of the Cesar Peasant Assembly, who represent 14 communities of victims of the armed conflict. In the letter Gaviria encourages the Asamblea “…to continue leading this process, since we are convinced that reconciliation and dialogue are decisive for the construction of a stable and lasting peace.”

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