This brief gives an overview of how actors engage with rights-based approaches in South and Southeast Asia. The summary highlights key messages of the report:

Key messages

  • Although rights are heralded as having the power to redress damages caused by resource extraction, they are often difficult to exercise. Rights holders frequently encounter significant, if not insurmountable, barriers and setbacks in the claim-making process.
  • There is limited academic literature in South and Southeast Asia concentrating on explicit rights-based claims associated with the mining sector or extractive industries in general.
  • Based on the surveyed literature, three generalized approaches to making rights- based claims against extractive industries emerged: pursuing environmental justice claims; making Indigenous rights and land claims; and claiming the right to conduct artisanal and small-scale mining. These typologies act as guideposts to describe the various methods used by local actors when making rights-based claims. They may overlap in context and content, with jurisdictionally specific considerations.
  • Rights-based claims employed multiple strategies that were sometimes undertaken simultaneously. Strategies included litigation and law-based approaches, mass actions such as protests, peaceful demonstrations and blockades, media outreach, and voicing claims through international platforms.
  • There are many challenges in making rights-based claims including poor access to information and legal resources, lack of capacity, financial limitations, and strong institutional barriers.