Wisdom isn't better than silver or gold at the Munk school
“At U of T and specifically, at Munk, it is expected that we view everything with a critical mindset,” said Chase McNabb, a third-year student in the Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies Program at the Munk School of Global Affairs.
“With that said, both the Munk School of Global Affairs and the former U of T president [Dr. David Naylor] must have assumed that many would question the ethical concerns of his swift transfer to Barrick,” said McNabb, referring to the December 4 announcement that Dr. Naylor will stand for election in April to Barrick Gold Corp.’s Board of Directors as an independent director.
Of Dr. Naylor’s suitability for the role, Barrick wrote in a press release, “[He] has been active as a senior policy advisor to domestic governments for 25 years, and through his role at the University had regular interaction with a number of international governments and agencies.”
Citing Dr. Naylor’s extensive academic background, Li Pan, a Mathematics and Economics student at Trinity College, wrote in The Varsity, “Naylor is extremely well-qualified for the job. For that reason alone, no one should cry conspiracy without evidence to back up that claim.”
Dr. Naylor was at the helm of U of T governance when Peter and Melanie Munk began to negotiate the conditions of their $35-million donation which lead to the creation of The Munk School of Global Affairs. Peter Munk is the founder and current Chairman of Barrick, though he will be stepping down in April at the Annual General Meeting of shareholders.
Advocacy group “Peter Munk OUT of UofT” believes that Peter Munk has extended his influence into the Munk Centre, saying that the donation contract signed between Peter Munk and U of T “allowed for a private donor to oversee programming at the school's global affairs school, despite the donor's financial interests in global affairs.”
Last year, in an unpublished interview with the newspaper, the Director of the Munk School, Professor Janice Stein said, “Peter Munk has never interfered in any way with the academic program of the Munk School, with the research program of the Munk School, or with the outreach program of the Munk School.”
Stein also said: “I am not in a position to comment on what any company does or does not do. ... What really is my responsibility is that programs like Peace and Conflict Studies … flourish, are funded, and grow.”
While there is debate on whether or not Peter Munk or Barrick Gold have in any way influenced the Munk School’s programming, it is difficult to obtain concrete and specific examples of ideological stamping out within the school on behalf of either entity.
However, speaking over Skype, Catherine Coumans, the Research Coordinator of MiningWatch Canada highlighted a problem relating to the identity of the Munk School: “By naming the school the MunkSchool, U of T gives Barrick an implicit stamp of approval. … This is high profile marketing, because it is also implicit that this organization has been vetted and found to be a suitable partner for U of T.” ..
Coumans believes that Dr. Naylor’s appointment to the Barrick Board of Directors is a case of “you rub my back and I’ll rub your back. This appointment is Dr. Naylor’s reward for services rendered to Barrick, and the move should be raising questions about the nature of that relationship.”
In our email exchange, Barrick’s VP of Communications declined to answer an inquiry into the substance of the corporation's relationship with U of T.
Based off 2013 figures, Dr. Naylor is slated to earn approximately $200 000 in his role as an independent director on the Barrick Board of Directors.
Barrick Gold Corp. is currently operating two non-judicial reparation programs in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea (PNG) after a string of human rights abuses at the North Mara and Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mines, respectively.
The PJV operation is 95 per cent owned by Barrick, which bought the mine from Placer Dome in 2006. The mine is located in the Porgera Valley, between 2200-2700m in the highlands of of the country.
“The mountainside [of Porgera] has been replaced by an immense open pit, massive waste dumps, and a red river of tailings,” reported Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic and NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice on November 16, 2009 in front of the Canadian House of Commons.
The Harvard/NYU research team documented ten alleged incidents of sexual assault between the 1980s and 2008 perpetrated by PJV “security personnel.” On their website, Barrick reported that by March 22, 2013, 170 women were filing claims for reparations.
Women reported that rapes usually occurred on the outer regions of the mine site, such as the waste dump. Alleged victims also reported being raped by three to nine security personnel and were reportedly subject to beatings—some with sticks, boots and guns.
Women are particularly vulnerable in Porgera as some of them must cross the waste flows to access their gardens. These women are subject to accusations of trespassing from security personnel.
Also, some women engage in illegal mining on the outer edges of the mine because of their financial insecurity. “The reasons people are on the waste flows is economic,” said Coumans.
Sakura Sanders, a human rights activist, travelled to the Porgera mine in 2010 and said that the people living around the mine site voiced several main concerns: “Something I heard again and again is ‘we are squatters on our own land’; there is also a lot of anger towards the company; and also, people said they made more money small-scale mining before the company was there.”
In a 2012 document responding to the violence against women in the Porgera Valley, Barrick writes that the remedy framework features “an individual remedy component and a community development program.”
Coumans said that despite the promise of an “individual” component to the remedy program, affected women are being offered the same thing: “livestock to sell, primarily in the form of baby chicks.”
“When we interviewed about 35 women, their view is that rape is very similar to a killing, for which the appropriate compensation would be about 100 adult pigs and a commensurate amount of money in cash.”
In order to receive reparation, Barrick’s framework compels women to sign a waiver agreeing “[they] will not pursue or participate in any legal action against PJV, PRFA [Porgera Remediation Framework Association Inc.] or Barrick in or outside of PNG.”
In response to criticism by organizations such as MiningWatch Canada and Human Rights Watch, the waiver was revised and a new copy was posted on May 18, 2013 in which the revised clause states that while the victim still cannot pursue any “civil legal action” or “claim for compensation” towards PJV, PRFA or Barrick, this “expressly excludes any criminal action that may be brought by any state, governmental or international entity.”
However, experts believe that the likelihood that the PNG government would be willing or able to pursue legal action against Barrick is likely nil.
Barrick revised the waiver to be “consistent with the UN Guiding Principles [on Business and Human Rights] and Papua New Guinean law.”
The UN Guiding Principles state that actors should work to “ensure that they do not erect barriers to prevent legitimate cases from being brought before the courts” or implement legal and practical barriers that “could lead to a denial of access to remedy.”
However, The Principles do not specifically request that States or Business Corporations not implement waivers as a part of their remedy process.
The Principles were authored by John Ruggie—currently employed at Barrick as the Special Consultant to the Corporate Social Responsibility Advisory Board.
“It’s a huge loophole,” said Coumans. “Yet Barrick can go to Ruggie, and ask, ‘Are we violating The Principles?’ And he can say, ‘Well, The Guiding Principles don’t address this.’”
“What Barrick does works; they bring specific people in very close, such that those people become implicated,” said Coumans.
A similar legal situation involving the use of waivers is currently under wraps at the North Mara Mine in Tanzania, which is owned by a subsidiary of Barrick called African Barrick Gold (ABG). Women also accused Barrick security personnel of sexual assault. Until December 2013, the waiver which was given to the alleged victims in order to receive reparation was not a public document. Forced into light by a lawsuit from London, the waiver is said to restrict victims from acting in criminal suits in entirety.
On their website, ABG writes that the North Mara region is “a magnet for transients, criminals and organized crime” due to migration from other regions and countries. However, the local community alleges that the mine has had negatives impacts on the region.
Sanders travelled to the North Mara mine—this time in 2013—to hear the concerns of the local community. Sanders recalled speaking with two young girls: “They said to me, ‘We can’t bathe here anymore [referring to the local water source] because our skin breaks out in rashes.’”
“Now the villagers have to walk really, really far to access another water source for drinking,” said Sanders.
Under current law, Barrick must abide by the rules and regulations in the nations in which it operates its mines and is not under obligations from the Canadian government regarding its mining practices in other countries. For example, the PJV mine engages in riverine tailings disposal, a practice which is banned in every other country in the world due to the environmental impacts.
In 2010, a Bill C-300—which would have asked companies to voluntarily be subject to some degree of oversight and evaluation—was shut down in Canadian parliament by a margin of six votes. Barrick lobbied against the bill on the basis of it being “punitive” and a basis for destroying the reputation of Canadian companies, reported Geoffrey York of The Globe and Mail.
Highlighting Dr. Naylor’s skills for a Board of Directors position at Barrick, Li Pan wrote that Naylor’s work with advisory committees and the Canadian government “makes him an obvious choice for a gold mining corporation that … is often lobbying the Canadian government.”
Dr. Naylor is qualified to work for Barrick Gold, but as the 15th president of the University of Toronto, and the main liaison at U of T during Peter and Melanie Munk’s donation to the Munk School, the problem of association remains.
In his role on the Barrick Board of Directors, Dr. Naylor will continue to represent U of T and will bring this connection to his role on the Barrick Board of Directors; in this respect, our 15th President shames the university by implicitly joining our name to a company deeply out of line with the principles of human rights.
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And as a student at the Munk School myself, benefiting from, and enjoying the multitude of resources initiated by the Munks’ donation, I question, am I also implicated?