Tameka Samuels-Jones, PhD, Unearthed: Bauxite Mining in Jamaica as Ecocide (2023)

Jamaica is internationally renowned for its vibrant tourism industry and potent Blue Mountain coffee. However, less well known is a primary Jamaican export that has become one of the mainstays of the island’s economy – bauxite, the raw material from which aluminum is produced. Bauxite may not be as well-known as Jamaica’s tourism or coffee, but it is more widely consumed globally. Bauxite is a rock which is mined out of the land and further refined into aluminum using caustic soda and lime. Aluminum is then used for siding and windows in houses, to make electrical appliances, pots and pans, kitchen foil, and more. As a highlight of aluminum’s strategic importance – 80 percent of an airplane’s weight is accounted for by the metal.

Using the Stop Ecocide Foundation’s Independent Expert panel’s human rights approach to ecocide, this paper explores the accountability gaps that may be filled through an international crime of ecocide. By using the environmental injustices caused by bauxite extraction in Jamaica as a case study, the paper explores the severe, long-term harms which meet the conditions of an environmental crime, and which should meet the conditions of an international crime perpetrated by multinational corporations.