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Mongolia: Supreme Court Orders Government to Enforce Law

(Oct. 26, 2011) On October 20, 2011, the Supreme Court of Mongolia ruled that the country's government must enforce its 2009 environmental protection resolution restricting mining in some locations. The decision came in a case filed by the United Movement of Mongolian Rivers & Lakes (UMMRL), a Mongolian environmental group, in 2010. The primary court, in a district in the capital city of Ulan Bator, found that the government was not responsible for damage to the natural environment, such as degradation of rivers and other areas, due to mining operations. The new decision by the Supreme Court overturns that first decision. The Court has also ordered that the government enforce the law. Speaking about the outcome of the case, Tsetsgee Munkhbayar of UMMRL said, “[t]oday's decision of the Supreme Court is a success for our movement. It demonstrates we are right and the government should enforce the law and halt mining operations along river basins and forest areas.” (Mongolian Supreme Court Orders Government to Enforce Environmental Law, ENGLISH.NEWS.CN (Oct. 20, 2011).)

The 2009 law, for which UMMRL had lobbied, prohibited mining at “headwaters of rivers, protected zones of water reservoirs, and forested areas.” (Legal Work – Environmental Lobbying, UMMRL website (last visited Oct. 24, 2011); Parliamentary Resolution No. 55, July 16, 2009, Measures to Be Taken in Compliance to the Law to Prohibit Mineral Exploration and Mining Operations at Headwaters of Rivers, Protected Zones of Water Reservoirs and Forested Areas, UMMRL website (unofficial translation).)

According to an undated report issued by the Mongolian Environmental Protection Agency, the country has adopted more than 20 laws on environmental protection and is a party to the major international conventions on the environment. (Enforcement of Environmental Laws (last visited Oct. 24, 2011).)