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Violence against Environmental Defenders in  Mining (VIA)

Environmental defenders are often caught in the crossfire between extractive industry projects, state actors and local communities, making mining one of the most lethal sectors for environmental defenders.

Research focus

As researchers from Switzerland, Kenya, Peru, and Philippines we aim to develop a new, cross-national account of how and why violence against environmental defenders in the mining sector is escalating despite global public scrutiny of the sector and a growing suite of protection measures founded on human rights. To address this research question, the project will describe and theorize the variability and drivers of violence in the mining sector through analysis of environmental defender experiences from a gender and ethnicity sensitive perspective. We seek to shed light on the nature, making and transformation of violence and insecurity over time. We interrogate the relevance, accessibility and effectiveness of formal and informal protection measures deployed locally, nationally and regionally. We will explore how structural drivers enable or undermine the effective protection of environmental defenders. This entails better understanding the relative significance of different types of threats and forms of violence for different population groups as well as questions of access to legal and other forms of protection among or between differentially located environmental defenders. We will employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Surveys will be tailored to specific defender networks employed together with multi-sited case studies based on semi-structured interviews, participant observation, socio-legal analysis and focus group discussions to explore forms of violence and threats against individuals, families, groups and organizations.

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Successful kick-off planning meeting held at Villa Boninchi, Geneva, June 2022.

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