PURPOSE: To close the Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development (CIIEID), recently renamed to the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI)
We, the undersigned, students, alumni, faculty, and community members, are concerned about the Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development (CIIEID), a mining institute established by the Canadian government and a coalition consisting of the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and École Polytechnique de Montréal. It is headquartered in Vancouver, on the unceded and ancestral territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations.
According to CIIEID founding documents, its aims are to “improve the ability of developing countries to use and benefit from their extractive sector resources in order to stimulate sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty”. However, Canada’s intervention in sovereign countries’ resource governance has proven to bring benefits to Canadian companies at the cost of human rights (especially those of indigenous people), local and national decision-making processes over resources, and protections for the environment and the public interest.
The CIIEID is a problematic initiative for the following reasons (more detail and documentation is available at http://stoptheinstitute.ca/):
1. LOSS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM: The CIIEID receives cash and in-kind aid from extractive companies, and there is no protection of the influence this will have on decision-making, activities, and publication. Furthermore, the content of any media statements must be approved by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development. This silences critical dialogue and research concerning resource extraction.
2. BIASED REPRESENTATION & CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Corporations that have been accused of complicity in human rights abuses, environmental degradation, and abusing indigenous land rights are part of the leadership structure of the CIIEID and its ‘Strategic Partner’ network; on the other hand, mining-affected communities and grassroots groups critical of mining have been entirely excluded. The CIIEID’s founding documents prioritize activity in regions of significant Canadian extractive investment, underlining the fundamentally conflicted interest of this institute with its claimed vision of poverty alleviation.
3. LACK OF CREDIBILITY & TRUST: Recent incidents at Canadian mining companies’ sites domestically and abroad, and unresolved land and sovereignty conflicts between First Nations and the Canadian government, put into question the Canadian ‘expertise’ in technical and social aspects of natural resource extraction that the CIIEID intends to export.
4. LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY: Although the CIIEID is using tax dollars and academic resources (including student tuition), and despite several letters sent by students to its board of directors, there is no answer to inquiries about its budget, projects, and strategic partners’ letters of support.
We do not want our public universities linked with an industry currently being rejected by many communities in Canada and around the world because of its destructive impact on their lives and on the environment.
A publicly-funded institute examining the extractive industries can only be appropriate if it is completely independent of extractive sector corporations and industry associations. It would receive no funding or in-kind contributions from corporations or industry groups, and the federal government’s foreign trade department would have neither influence nor veto over such an institute’s work.
An appropriate institute would rather be accountable to communities impacted by extractive projects, and emphasize their rights to free, prior, and informed consent, which includes the right to legislate against or reject a given extractive project. The appropriate problem to be addressed by such an institute is Canada’s responsibility in resource extraction conflicts both here and abroad, and the lack of accountability for Canadian companies accused of abuses abroad.
IN SUMMARY, because of this lack of academic freedom, lack of impartiality, lack of credibility, and lack of accountability, we call on the coalition universities to dissolve the CIIEID.