Zambian farmers win ground-breaking legal victory in the UK, reports *Louise Eldridge
In a historic ruling, the UK Supreme Court has allowed 1,826 Zambian villagers to continue to pursue their case (Lungowe v. Vedanta) against UK-based mining giant Vedanta in the UK courts. The villagers from Chingola, in Zambia’s copper belt, have been fighting for over a decade for compensation following serious pollution from a mine owned by Vedanta’s Zambian subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), which poisoned their land and waterways.
The ruling is a significant step for-ward. A positive outcome isn’t certain the company has vowed to “defend itself against any such claims at the appropriate time” but for now, the door is still open. The case has significant implications for other victims of business related human rights abuses and for multinationals, because it expands the Protest in London against Vedanta parameters of a company’s legal “duty of care.”
Such cases also raise a familiar question: are Western multinationals’ in-vestments in Africa delivering sufficient financial and developmental benefits to the host countries? And what more can be done to ensure they don’t palm off their responsibilities?