Popular consultations in extractive governance : experiences from Colombia
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Mining has been an important industry in Colombia and there has been a push for expansion since the beginning of the 2000s. The granting of mining titles and planned large- scale mining projects have resulted in a social environmental conflicts in many parts of the country. In the years from 2013 to 2018, ten municipalities in Colombia carried out popular consultations—a kind of local referendum supported by the Colombian constitution, and with binding results—against extractive development in their territory. These consultations happened despite the national government opposing and trying to stop the use of the tool in extractive governance, arguing that they are illegal as only the state can make decisions on the use of the resources of subsoil. In this thesis I am looking at the development of the use of popular consultations in extractive governance in Colombia, and how local communities have organized themselves to employ the tool. I argue that the use of the tool managed to grow and reach legitimacy with the courts, and most notably the Constitutional Court, because of the country’s strong courts and the history of the Constitutional Court of judicial activism, but that this was not sufficient for the use of popular consultations continue to be used in extractive governance.