Document Type


Publication Date



Environmental Studies



Publication Title



The right to food is increasingly evoked by a range of actors, but there is not sufficient critical analysis of distinct interpretations of what this right means in practice. Through examination of a mineral extraction project with agricultural implications, this article explores diverse human rights narratives and illuminates associated corporate efforts to minimize recognition of food as a fundamental right. A British mining company proposes the Phulbari open pit coal mine in an agriculturally important region of Bangladesh. Highly contested by affected populations, clashes in 2006 between the police and protestors turned deadly in the area. In February 2012, a group of UN Special Rapporteurs cautioned the Government of Bangladesh regarding human rights violations associated with the planned mine. They warned that the project would displace hundreds of thousands of people, while destroying fertile agricultural land. In contrast, an ongoing publicity campaign by the corporation attempts to promote their intervention as a positive step, fully compliant with international human rights and corporate social responsibility standards. Taking this case as an exemplar, the article illuminates the pursuit of mining profit and the distinct use of human rights narratives by corporations and UN Special Rapporteurs. These diverse actors represent the layering of voices weighing in on mineral extraction and associated right to food concerns. Collectively, these layered narratives represent a new terrain for the promotion and contestation of mining and highlight the need to scrutinize mining practices in light of social responsibility and human rights claims being voluntary and self-regulated.


This published version is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher. For more information on the published version, visit Elsevier's Website.

Open access publication of this article was made possible with grant support from Waidner-Spahr Library distributed through the Dickinson College Research & Development Committee.