PAX’ critical position towards ‘Bettercoal’

March 19, 2014

In January, PAX, ActionAid, Amnesty International Nederland, FNV Mondiaal, ICCO and Somo sent a critical letter on Bettercoal to Ms Ploumen, Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the Netherlands. Their concerns were also made on behalf of the victims of violence in the Colombian coal region of Cesar, who are searching reparation and remedy for the thousands of deaths and more than one hundred thousand displaced persons. The Dutch parliament will discuss this issue on April 3.

PAX finds that Bettercoal might have potential to deal with issues related to labour circumstances and environmental damage caused by mining. However it is not an effective instrument to address the just grievances of the victims. This is one of the main reasons why PAX, along with other Dutch NGO’s, decided not to become a member of Bettercoal.

We think Bettercoal is an insufficient instrument for the following reasons:

Bettercoal is an initiative by and for power companies, with no voice for other stakeholders. It is a technocratic solution to a problem that, as experience has shown, can be solved only with the participation of all involved parties. A voice, and a role in the process, must be given in particular to the vulnerable groups, who must benefit from the efforts.

Dutch power companies are outsourcing their individual responsibility to Bettercoal. The individual power companies will not be held accountable for their purchasing policy. For this reason, Bettercoal clearly offers no prospect of individual transparency and accountability.

Bettercoal is working towards an audit of mines. However, we have serious doubts about how this instrument is currently being used.

Betttercoal is a ‘fox guarding the chickens’ initiative. The audit findings are secret, and the individual power companies have no accountability. Bettercoal also selects and pays the auditors.

Read the letter on Bettercoal to Ms Ploumen.
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