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The human rights of project affected peoples by the extractive industry

Principal researcher

Lidewij van der Ploeg

Type of research



Prof. Frank Vanclay (promotor)

Dr. Peter Groote


Rising demand for minerals, oil and gas has spurred foreign investment in less developed and resource rich countries. The projects (can) have profound harmful impacts on the identity and wellbeing of local people. In developing countries, social impacts are often a result of environmental degradation and displacement. This is critical because people depend their lives on their specific attachment to, and knowledge of, the land they occupied for generations. When they lose access to their land, they lose access to natural resources essential for their survival. In many instances, companies and governments are not adequately compensating for people’s loss of (natural) assets, leaving them worse-off. The projects of foreign investors have impoverished communities, fueled internal conflict and caused human rights abuses.

In some cases foreign companies are required by the government to build public services such as schools, hospitals, and roads in return for access to natural resources. Also, the building of such infrastructures are a way of impact mitigation on communities and the environment. There is an international debate about the transparency of such investment deals between the government and companies. To what extent should and can companies be held accountable for involvement in human rights violations as a result of ‘land grabbing’ and poor working conditions?

In light of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), this study investigates the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in relation with the extractive industry. The critical question is; how can respect for social, economic and cultural rights be enhanced through companies in a way that it creates better local development opportunities, and, what type of compensation is appropriate and sensitive to the socio-economic and cultural context of local communities?

Last modified:10 March 2014 11.43 a.m.