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Olívar, Mancilla and Melini

From left: Ricardo Colmenares Olívar, University of Zulia, Venezuela; Mario Mancilla, CAFTA's Secretariat of Environmental Affairs; and, Dr. Yuri Melini, Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Legal and Social Action of Guatemala.

Study Space Workshop at McGeorge Reimagines Development for Guatemala

December 16, 2015

Tags: Global Center, Faculty & Scholarship, 2015, News

In July 2015, a small delegation of law professors, lawyers, and law students from the U.S. and Canada traveled to Guatemala to study broadly the topic of corporate social responsibility (Read about the trip.). The trip inspired the group to come together as scholars to produce a book, "From Extraction to Emancipation: Reimagining Development for Guatemala," and a Study Space workshop bearing the book title was held on Dec. 4, 2015 at McGeorge School of Law.

This Study Space project studies closely the relationship between the state of Guatemala with corporations and the related theme of corporate social responsibility. Corporations are entities with great potential to promote and further the public good, such as through job creation and economic development. Corporations, however, can also be the cause of social ills, particularly when left unregulated or at times even supported by the state to pursue private interests that conflict with the public good. In Guatemala, examples of deeply problematic unregulated arenas abound — from the lack of antitrust legislation to the absence of meaningful environmental protections to protect even the most precious of natural resources, such as water. Public institutions and laws are misused to shield corporations from their public and fiscal responsibility or to aid them in capitalizing on public goods, including minerals or land.

The workshop opened with an introduction to Study Space and the book project by McGeorge School of Law Associate Dean Raquel Aldana and Adjunct Professor Luis Mogollón. The keynote speaker during the lunch hour was Dr. Yuri Melini, Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Legal and Social Action of Guatemala.

Four panels were presented during the workshop as follows:

Panel I: Corporate Social Responsibility: A Framework

  • Corporate Social Responsibility in Guatemala, Marcia Narine, St. Thomas University School of Law
  • A Family's U.S. Migration Story from the Sugar Fields of Southwest Guatemala, Blake Nordahl, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

Panel II: Development and the Environment

  • The Water Law Gap in Guatemala, Mario Mancilla, CAFTA's Secretariat of Environmental Affairs
  • Rethinking Environmental Impact Assessment in Guatemala, Rachael Salcido, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific
  • Sustainable Extraction of Precious Metals in Guatemala?, Raquel Aldana, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific
  • Guatemala: The Unintended Development Footprint of Climate Finance, Patrícia Galvão Ferreira, The Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI)

Panel III: Development and Sovereignty

  • The Impact of Mining on Self-Determination of Rural Communities in Guatemala, Julie Davies, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific
  • Political Participation and Prior and Informed Consultation of Indigenous Peoples in Venezuela: A Proposal for Guatemala, Ricardo Colmenares Olívar, University of Zulia, Venezuela

Panel IV: Development, Investment and Trade

  • Guatemala's Experience with Investor Protection Mechanisms in Free-Trade Agreements, José R. Juárez, Sturm College of Law, University of Denver
  • Maquilas as an Extractive Industry, Steve W. Bender, Seattle University School of Law
  • Labor Rights and Free-Trade Agreements, Jorge Guzmán, CAFTA's Secretariat for Environmental Affairs

Professor Steve W. Bender, Seattle University School of Law, closed the workshop with remarks and next steps. The work that began during the 2015 Study Space will continue with the writing of a book, which will also include several Central American experts, in addition to the professors in the delegation.

Slideshow of Event

Study Space Sacramento Workshop December 2015