Land rights include the right to exclude others from coming onto or using your land.
Disputes about land often involve questions as to “what is inappropriate use of land?”.
Common causes of disputes include activities like:
Minerals and mining cases are important. Use of land for mining or other extractive industries has the potential to damage your land or affect your enjoyment of it through pollution.
The economic benefits from mining are often not shared with the local community but go exclusively to outside investors.
Generally the company requires a licence to extract minerals. This licence sometimes gives the community an opportunity to challenge the terms of the licence.
Mining and especially “Open-pit” mining removes harms the local environment.
Also it may be possible to halt use of land for mining until there has been consultation with the local community or an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) carried out.
Indigenous peoples and forest peoples are often particularly affected and have specific rights.
UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has an informative report on the human rights issues regarding extractive industries operating within or near indigenous land.
Prior consent, and Free prior informed consent is an important norm, though only some laws respect it. Peru has a prior consultation law.
Share in the profits: communities often consider that the royalty from the resource extraction is insufficient, or insufficiently shared with them.
For examples of case studies from Colombia, Peru, Guatemala and Panama, see the Rights and Resources Initiative’s Report on the Impact of the Extractive Industry on the Collective Land and Forest Rights of People and Communities
Communities sometimes go to court to require information about the extractive operations, filing complaints of lack of information on the royalty or how it is invested locally.
Communities might also challenge the compensation and management of environmental liabilities.
Where the company is a foreign company, or has foreign investment, it may be possible to bring a case or seek redress under the law that applies to the foreign company, or under the administrative schemes of the lenders, like the World Bank’s Compliance Ombudsman’s Office.
For a series of case studies on mining disputes in Latin America, see the Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America (215 conflicts in 19 Latin American countries in 2014 ).
For a country specific focus on Chile, see IPS News for information about a series of court cases where communities successfully challenged mining projects.