Ximena Sierra-Camargo: Reshaping the Constitutional State under the Hegemonic Idea of Development as a Form of Intervention

Reshaping the Constitutional State under the Hegemonic Idea of Development as a Form of Intervention, in a Context of Global Coloniality: The Case of the Large-scale Gold Mining Law in Colombia

Ximena Sierra

Ximena’s research explores how transnational agents (from the gold mining sector operating in Colombia) regulate through the constitutional state domestic realities, and in doing so end up establishing a particular global economic and political order at the national level. This research discloses the colonial character of the rule of law and how such discourse is reshaping classic ideas about the legal and political character of sovereignty. These questions arise in a context of a (neo)extractivism model, which has been reintroduced in the last twenty years in several countries of the global south, and which has caused a growing presence of transnational mining companies, that in turn have exercised traditional sovereign functions of the global south states, with the key collaboration of local governments. The Colombian Constitutional State under the support of key global economic actors has enacted a strong mining regulation, which establishes a hegemonic discourse of development that is mainly oriented to ‘economic growth’. From a critical perspective this regulation constitutes a ‘territorial trap’ due to even in those cases where states are able to exploit directly the mineral resources, they depend from the capital of the ‘developed’ countries. Thus, the ‘developing’ countries only are allowed to exercise their sovereignty over natural resources, if they demonstrate their capability to exploit them according to the main global extractive model.
In this context, the role of the World Bank has been crucial for consolidating a legal order in the framework of ‘mining boom’ linked to a ‘constitutionalism boom’. This financial institution has played a key role in promoting from ‘above’ a ‘subordinated development’, where the Colombian State, under its national law, is permanently reinserting itself into a peripheral position within the global economic order, and updating (neo)colonial discourses and practices.

Ximena Sierra-Camargo is a PhD Candidate at Rosario University in Colombia. She has been a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Critical International Law CeCIL – University of Kent (2015 – 2016) and a Visiting Fellow at the Transnational Law Institute TLI – The Dickson Poon School of Law – King’s College London (2016). Ximena is a Doctoral Fellow from Colciencias (Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación de la República de Colombia). Her dissertation examines how the Colombian Constitutional State as a producer of raw mining products reveals the (neo)colonial character of the global economic and political order. Her project aims to show the global historicity of current development practices, and how mining policies have incessantly shaped the nature and operation of the rule of law in Colombia. She holds an MA in Socio-Legal Studies at La Plata National University in Argentina and she graduated as a Bachelor of Law at Externado de Colombia University. She has taught International Law, Human Rights, IHL, Law and Development, Environmental Law, Legal Hermeneutics and Cinema and Human Rights.
In her own work as a legal practitioner, Ximena has had the opportunity to gain direct experience on the monitoring of human rights and the performance of official development policies, working as an attorney at the Office of the Ombudsman in Colombia and at various recognized human rights NGOs like the Colombian Commission of Jurists.


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