What is the Right to say ‘No’?

We understand The Right to Say No (RTSN) as the inalienable and collective right of a community to say No to extractive projects on the territories / lands they are living within. The Right to Say No can be pursued in many different ways and should therefore be understood as a pluralistic and heterogenous concept. The pursuit of this right can never be limited to what existing international, national or local normative bodies guarantee for these communities[1]. 

Latest articles on the Right to say ‘No’

Carolina and the Right to Say No

Carolina is an environmental defender from Falan, Colombia. She fights for the right to say no to extractivism and yes to a strong and resilient community. Along with Don Wilder she will tour Belgium this
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Report Encuentro del Derecho a Decir No

Picture of the road blockade that lasted over two years against a mine in the Chocó Andino. Photo by Danila, Red de Jóvenes del Chocó Andino Between the 15 – 23rd November environmental defenders, organizations
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Movement Weekend throwback: the Encuentro comes to Belgium!

November 2023 was a month filled with important events for CATAPA and its volunteers - from Klimaduro events, photo expos, Repair Cafes and info stands all over Flanders, our Stop #ExpresDefect campaign flourished within the
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Update: the threats towards Don Wilder’s family continue….

Earlier we shared the sad news that Johan Ferney Aguilar González was murdered on September 3rd. The day after, his father, don Wilder Antonio Aguilar Rodríguez, filed charges against the Canadian multinational Mirandagold for making
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Would you like to support the right to 'say' no?

Are you wondering how you can contribute to this fight? One very real thing you can do today is make a donation to make the Right To Say No campaign!

Our donors supported a partner exchange week of CATAPA in the fall of 2023 in Ecuador. This was a week of knowledge, concrete practical skill and strategy sharing between affected communities on preventing mining projects from entering and on dealing with the impacts of the presence of mining companies on their lands. The gathering strengthened communities in their local fight and forces bonds and alliances that ensure a united struggle to protect their Right To Say No to mining in the Andes region.

Why the RTSN?

We recognise that there are specific groups of people that are disproportionately affected by extractivism, like women, indigenous, working class, peasant and racialized communities. The Right to Say No does always include the right to decide about one’s body, especially for these communities or groups of people who historically have had the autonomy over their bodies taken away[2]. We and our bodies are not separate but part of the natural surroundings we have the right to decide on. 

The Right To Say No includes the right for the communities to decide: to say yes to their chosen way of living and relation with their surroundings. To live and create realities and futures not based on extractivism, but on reciprocal, interdependent and caring relationships of communities with the territory/land they are living within.  

For this yes, many ways of living exist and can be found, like Buen Vivir in the Latin American context or Degrowth in Europe. We believe communities have been imagining and actively embodying alternative relations in many forms for generations, without the need to name or categorize them. We believe that there is not one, but many ways to live in harmony within the web of life, many of which are futures we are only just beginning to build and dream into existence. 

We understand the Right to Say No as a continuous right. The Right to Say No is not limited in time. The Right to Say No can be pursued a preventive level (eg. bans or moratoria on mining, no go zones), at an early level (eg. popular referendum banning mining before activities start), during activities (eg. halting a mine through legal procedures or occupations, procedures because of human rights violations caused by extractive projects) and post activities (eg. demands for reparations for the community and remediation and restoration of the land and life).


In Catapa our focus is to defend the Right to Say NO of communities against metal mining projects on the lands/territories they are living and depending on. However our understanding of the Right to Say No as stated above is not confined to mining alone. Our fight is only a part in a bigger struggle to defend communities affected by all types of extractivism. We are part of a pluriverse of movements and initiatives aimed at bringing down and transforming power systems based on the oppression of lands and people. On a systemic level we defend the Right to Say No to a destructive economic system which harms people, land and nature for profit. We believe other worlds are possible and within our reach if we join collective forces to realize them. 

This concept was inspired by the thoughts of, and exchanges with, our partners in Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, as well as lessons learned from activists all over the globe participating in the Yes to Life No to Mining network. We build further on the contributions and developments of the concept of the Right To Say No by the feminist collective Womin in South Africa as well as on the sessions and the Final Declaration of the Thematic Social Forum on Mining & The Extractivist Economy held in 2018.

1 These normative bodies are historically written and made for and by groups in power and protect the systems of profit that to survive will oppress and destruct the targeted communities and their lands. We therefore do not limit the Right to Say No to existing laws or treaties.
2 Here, the meaning of body is the human body. Inside of the systems of colonial capitalism and patriarchy certain groups: women, racialized people, indigenous people, working class, people with disabilities,… have had their bodily autonomy taken away. The people in power in these systems have made these groups their property and/or have limited their bodily autonomy, including their reproductive rights.

Right To Say No, from Ecuador to Belgium

In Ecuador, Danila Andagoya and Nathalia Bonilla fight every day for the right to say 'no' to mining projects.
Their opposition to mining projects around the Ecuadorian capital Quito may seem far from our lives, but it is not.
We also have the right here and now to say 'no' to unrestrained economic growth and our current economic model. But there is also hope, we say 'yes' to a different way of organizing our society.