Rights of Nature – Amazon Rainforest Wisdom Immersion

An Invitation to Journey With Us, January 2014

Amazon forestThe fundamental principles encapsulated by Rights of Nature ─ of Mother Earth ─ are deeply rooted in the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples. The Achuar and Kichwa peoples of the Upper Amazon of Ecuador maintain their ancient traditions living in harmony with their rainforest home.  It is no accident that in 2008 Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognize Rights of Nature in its Constitution.

We are extending a special invitation to Rights of Nature, Rights of Mother Earth advocates and individuals who are looking to understand the essence of the movement on a deeper, more personal level.  Join us on a rare opportunity to travel with global Rights of Nature leaders: Cormac Cullinan, South African environmental attorney and author of Wild Law, Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network and Robin Milam, Administrative Director for Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, on an intimate rainforest immersion journey.  We travel at the invitation of the indigenous peoples of the upper Amazon in partnership with The Pachamama Alliance. This unique journey is an opportunity to experience the Rights of Nature movement at its source while visiting with indigenous peoples in their ancestral rainforest homes.

Tiinkias eyes We will visit the iconic Kichwa community of Sarayaku and Achuar communities around the remote Kapawi Lodge. These communities have taken bold, internationally acclaimed stands to protect their rainforest home and preserve their ability to live in harmony with nature.  Throughout our journey, we will engage in a multi-faceted examination of our relationship with the natural world, the recognition of Rights of Nature, and what it means personally, as a society, and globally to restore our natural balance with Mother Earth, Pachamama and all life.

Each of us has unique gifts that are indispensable to the success of humanity at this time of unprecedented challenge and opportunity. You’ll return from your Journey with greater awareness of these very gifts and how to use them to make a difference, having been freshly recalibrated to the rhythms of the natural world. Join us on what is surely to be a life altering journey.

Learn more about our itinerary and overall journey on Pachamama’s website at: http://www.pachamama.org/pachamama-journeys/2014-journey-dates/january-17-to-january-28-2014.

huazin at KapawiThe Pachamama Alliance and its sister organization, Fundación Pachamama supported the inclusion of Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution and are founding members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.

Journey Leader, Robin Milam first journeyed to the rainforest with Pachamama in 1997 and has been leading Pachamama Journeys for many years.  Participants have claimed “this is a journey of many lifetimes“.

Interested? Contact Robin at nature@therightsofnature.org or the Pachamama Journeys team and explore what this journey could be for you.

Stories from Around the World

We invite you to share your stories about Rights of Nature. Tell us examples of how rights of nature are being recognized in your community or around the world.

Please enter your story as a comment.  We reserve the right to edit stories out of respect for our broader earth community.

March for Real Climate Leadership – Oakland, CA

March for Real Climate Leadership February 7, 2015
     Click to learn more and SIGN UP NOW!

Join us from around California and across the US!

Many of you participated in the Peoples Climate March in New York either marching yourselves or catching the energy of the movement as friends and colleagues converged on New York!  On February 7th, thousands of Californians are gathering in Governor Jerry Brown’s longtime home of Oakland to say that we need real climate leadership in the face of the drought.

Across California — and beyond — wells are drying up, more than a dozen cities are in real danger of running out of water, and there’s no question it’s being made worse by climate change.

But instead of reigning in the oil and gas industry and putting an end to incredibly dangerous and water-intensive practices like fracking, Governor Brown has been letting companies continue with business as usual. You well know this phenomenon is not unique to California and is playing out across the United States, Canada and the world.

Bay Area Rights of Nature AllianceThe Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance (BARoNA) is an organizing partner.  The Global Alliance is proud to announce our participation with BARONA in the March for Real Climate Leadership in Oakland on February 7th. We are inviting Global Alliance members from across North America to join us on the streets of Oakland and/or cheer us on from a far!

Join us in Oakland, Governor Brown’s hometown, on February 7th to demand that he be a real climate leader by stopping fracking, standing up to Big Oil, and moving beyond fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy.

HERE ARE THE DETAILS:

WHAT: The March for Real Climate Leadership: Our Water, Our Health, Our California
WHEN: 11:30 am, February 7, 2015
WHERE: Frank Ogawa / Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th & Broadway, Oakland, California

February 7th will be a game-changing moment for the climate movement in California — but only if you’re there! Click to Sign up, and then share this page with your friends.

Why Oakland?

  • Oakland is Governor Brown’s hometown
Why California?
  • When he took office for his 4th and final term, Governor Brown declared he wants California to be an international leader in the fight against climate change .
  • But California can’t be a leader in the fight against climate change while we unabashedly push extreme extraction methods like fracking that worsen climate change and seriously endanger the health of our communities. Governor Brown needs to step up to real leadership stopping dangerous oil and fracking activities.
  • Californians want to hold him accountable for keeping his promises and providing the REAL leadership California, the USA, and the world need NOW!

What should you bring?

  • Blue Clothing
  • Signs
  • Bullhorns
  • Musical Instruments
  • Walking shoes
  • Snacks/Food
  • Water

Vandana Shiva on “Corporate Fiction”

Vandana Shiva“To claim that by adding one gene a corporation creates the seed and all future generations of that seed is an ontological flaw, a scientific outrage and an ethical violation”

Vandana Shiva wrote the following article in the context of US corporations putting huge pressure through the US administration to change India’s IPR laws.

“President Obama has been invited as  chief guest for our Republic Day which started as the day of declaration of freedom from British rule. Our movement is a movement for the freedom of Mother Earth and all her beings. in this context we have also drafted an open letter to  Modi and Obama on the IPR issues related to seeds and biodiversity.

Hope you all will sign and circulate.”

Seed Freedom and Food Democracy ~
An Open letter to Prime Minister Modi and President Obama
from democratic, concerned citizens of India and the US
http://navdanya.org/campaigns/478-seed-freedom-and-food-democracy

Corporate Fiction

Vandana Shiva
Excerpt of  article published in The Asian Age January 6, 2015

As the New Year begins, I feel compelled to reflect on how fictions and abstract constructions are ruling us; the nature of being and existence is being redefined in such fundamental ways that life itself is threatened. When corporations that were designed as legal constructs claim “personhood”, then real people who stand in line at polling booths, eke out livelihoods, and raise families lose their rights.

This has happened recently in Vermont and Maui. Residents of Maui County, Hawaii voted on November 4 to ban the growing of genetically modified crops on the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai until scientific studies are conducted on their safety and benefits. Monsanto and Dow Chemical’s unit Mycogen Seeds have sued the county in federal court to stop the law passed by the people. And Vermont, which passed a GMO labelling law through a legal, democratic process, is being sued by a conglomerate of corporations on the false premise of corporate personhood, and the influence of money as corporate “free speech”.

This is at the heart of new free trade treaties based on “investor rights”. Denying citizens the right to know violates the fundamental principles of food democracy. Dow and Monsanto sued Maui, thus subverting the democratic process that rests on the will of people, not on the power of corporations. This corporate jurisprudence needs to be reversed if human rights and the rights of Mother Earth are to be protected.

Corporate fictions that have already had disastrous impacts on the biodiversity of the planet, nations and on farmers whose time immemorial rights to save and exchange seeds are being criminalised under patent law and new seed laws.

When biotechnology corporations claim to have “invented” the seed and courts and governments uphold this fiction, millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of agricultural history gets erased.

Read the complete article http://www.asianage.com/columnists/corporate-fiction-661

Thank you and Congratulations

Winter Newsletter and Thank You Members

Greetings Alliance Members,

Looking back on 2014, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your partnership, resiliency, creativity, and support.  Starting with the launch of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal and our Summit in January and culminating with the second International Tribunal in Lima this month, 2014 has been a momentous year for the Alliance.

Additionally, we have cheered as many of you hosted regional peoples tribunals, launched Rights of Nature initiatives in your communities and for the EU, organized events to advocate Rights of Nature, and reaffirmed recognition of Rights of Nature and Mother Earth through the messaging of your organizations and at events world wide. Some were spawned in conjunction with our Earth Rights Days of Action in October. Others germinated independently.  It is humbling and exhilarating to be a part of this movement with you.  Our aim is to shine a light on you to spur your momentum and success and to move us all toward a world living in harmony with nature and each other.

International Rights of Nature Tribunal ~ Lima, Peru

Alberto

The Global Alliance convened the second International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Lima, Peru concurrent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 20) in December 2014.  The hearings were an intense, deeply moving two days as one by one experts and witnesses came forward to present facts and stories detailing how they individually and collectively are impacted by gross violations to Mother Earth and the Rights of Nature.

Casey CampCasey Camp-Horinek of Oklahoma, USA told how “fracturing the skeleton of Mother Earth” for oil and gas is killing indigenous communities across the United States. Her own 600 person Ponca Nation is burying one relative a week due to death from cancer and other diseases.  She spoke movingly about feeling frequent earthquakes in an area that was not prone to earthquakes before fracking.  The shaking is all the more riveting to raw emotions dealing with the deep personal loss and the destructive impact of extractive industries.

Sônia Guajajara, the national coordinator of Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples (APIB), described the expansive flooding of the Amazon basin in Brazil caused by construction of the massive Belo Monte Dam.  Tens of thousands of indigenous peoples are being dislocated as their traditional homeland becomes buried under water.  Brazil is building a series of hydroelectric power dams throughout the Amazon to fuel the prodigious demands of aluminum smelters and a burgeoning economy. Furthermore seasonal water levels create questions about Belo Monte’s ability to provide proposed uninterrupted power and may require additional dams upstream to insure water supplies.

José Tendetza

Widows with their children from Ecuador and Peru spoke of the murder and disappearance of their husbands from communities who have been fighting the expansion of mining and oil extraction in South America. The Tribunal was dedicated to the memory of Jose Tendetza, Shuar leader (pictured right) who was found murdered only days before he was to present the Condor Mirador Mine Case.

Pablo Solon and witnesses provided clear evidence that false solutions for Climate Change such as geoengineering and carbon market mechanisms employed in REDD projects are systemic violations to Mother Earth and Rights of Nature.

Spirits soared as the Yasunidos Collective burst into the room singing and dancing after days of being repeatedly detained by Ecuadorian police who ultimately confiscated their bus. Yasunidos is a group of young activists who are calling for the Ecuadorian government to halt oil development in the fragile Yasuní National Park and to protect one of the most bio-diverse regions on our planet.

The Climate Caravan left Mexico several months ago in route to Lima.  The young Yasunidos group joined the caravan as they came through Ecuador to give a global voice to their stand in defense of Yasuní.  In spite of the delays and harassment by Ecuadorian officials, the group hired another bus and arrived to present their case to the Tribunal.

yasunidos800

Yasunidos manifests the resiliency of communities and organizations who are saying “Stop this madness!” The International Tribunal, and related locally hosted Tribunals, examine the evidence and give voice to this global call. The time is NOW to transform human consciousness, to redesign failing, consumptive economic and social structures, and to create a framework for living in harmony with nature grounded in the recognition of the Rights of Mother Earth.
Learn more:

NinewaWe are in the process of posting decisions of the Tribunal including videos and details of each of the cases on the Global Alliance website at  http://therightsofnature.org/lima-2014-tribunal/.

David Hill of the Guardian published a compelling article, Fracking and Lima Climate Talks Slammed at Rights of Nature Tribunal saying “It’s difficult to know what was more moving or arresting” as he went on to describe the intimate testimony of indigenous leaders describing “being fracked to death” and Nnimmo Bassey declaring that “business as usual means cooking Africa”.

At the conclusion of the International Tribunal, key members including Osprey Orielle Lake of WECAN, Tom BK Goldtooth presented at a Press Conference inside UNFCCC COP 20 in Lima:

UN Press Conference Lima on the International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Also in Lima, the Alliance hosted a Rights of Nature Tribunal event at the People’s Summit and marched with partners and some  200,000 participants in the Peoples’ Climate March through the streets of Lima.
IMG_4975
peoples march

A special Thank You!

The Tribunal was truly an international collaboration of our members.  Among the participating leaders were Alberto Acosta – President, Natalia Greene – Secretariat, Ramiro Avila – Prosecutor, WECAN International, Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Focus on the Global South, Amazon Watch, Acción Ecológica, Movement Rights, Alianza Arkana, our distinguished judges, and representatives from impacted communities of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and other areas of the Americas, Australia, and Africa.  Thank you to WECAN International and Amazon Watch for arranging the UNFCCC Press Conference.

Next steps for 2015

In December 2015, the UNFCCC COP21 meets in Paris, France.  The Global Alliance intends to again convene the International Rights of Nature Tribunal concurrent with the UN Climate Conference.

We need your support to maintain the momentum and carry on to Paris. We invite you to support us financially by making a donation to the Global Alliance!   Your financial contributions are tax deductible.

Thank you for your partnership and for your work towards advancing Rights of Nature ~ Rights of Mother Earth.

Blessings on the coming New Year!

Robin

Robin Milam
Administrative Director
Co-Secretariat, International Tribunal

Contact Us at TheRightsofNature.org.

Follow Rights of Nature Tribunal – Lima, Peru and on Facebook at The Rights of Nature for more details.

Rights of Nature Tribunal Press Conference at UNFCCC COP20 in Lima

The prominent International Tribunal issues verdicts on 12 cases of violations to nature and communities

The Tribunal finds corporations, United Nations and governments guilty of violating nature’s rights. Watch the Press conference at http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop20/events/2014-12-09-14-00-amazon-watch

UNFCCC Press Conference video link

CLICK PHOTO TO VIEW VIDEO

At a UNFCCC Press Conference Osprey Orielle Lake (USA), Pablo Solon (Bolivia), Tom BK Goldtooth (Indigenous, Turtle Island, USA), Atossa Soltani (USA) and Nnimmo Bassey (Nigeria) report out results of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal. Watch the Press conference at http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop20/events/2014-12-09-14-00-amazon-watch.

Osprey Orielle Lake, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, provides a summary of the 12 cases heard and resulting decisions by the Rights of Nature Tribunal convened December 5-6, 2014.  Highlighting that current legal systems recognize Nature as property without rights recognized within the law, Ms Lake reported the Tribunal concluded “we need to change the DNA of legal systems in order to recognize Rights of Nature ~ Rights of Mother Earth.  The Tribunal examined egregious violations to rights of Nature and repeated violations to Defenders of the Earth. The Lima Tribunal was dedicated to Jose Tendetza, Shuar leader from the rich bio-diverse  Condor Mine region of Ecuador who was found murdered just days before he was scheduled to present the Condor Mine Case to the Tribunal and in Lima.

Pablo Solon was lead presenter of the case addressing Climate Change and False Solutions.  “Climate Change represents systemic violations to the Rights of Nature.  Key responsible parties are governments, transnational corporations, the UN system, and the capitalist system.  Presenters requested the Tribunal to go deep into the analysis.  Extractive industries of oil, gas and coal don’t want to leave fossil fuels in the ground. It is not a problem of emission cuts, it is MUCH bigger.  It is a problem of extraction and this issue is not even being discussed here [at the UN COP.]  For us it is key to discuss the structural causes of climate change.  It is not only about emission cuts, it is about patterns of consumption, patterns of production, and the logic of capital.  Why all the economies want to grow and grow forever, even beyond the limits of the earth systems? That is not needed for humanity but that is needed for capital.  Capital that does not grow, that does not get more profit, is capital that is displaced from the market.  If we are not able to move away from this logic of capital, we are not going to be able to address climate change. That is why for us, in order to preserve the Rights of Mother Earth we need to clearly address these four key factors.”

Tom Goldtooth served as judge to hear the case of REDD and Forests to determine whether REDD and REDD type projects violate the Rights of Mother Earth. “We heard from experts that REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation] is a global initiate to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests to compensate governments and companies or owners of forests in developing countries, not to cut  the carbon rich forests or to reduce the rate of deforestation and forest degradation as a market mechanism to avoid greenhouse gas emissions.  REDD+ expands REDD to develop methods of for carbon sequestration … in developing countries.

Indigenous peoples throughout the Tribunal consistently provided a foundation for the Tribunal understanding that climate solutions have to embrace the human relationship and responsibility and duty of humanity to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth, nature, Pachamama and the concept of Father Sky.  The Indigenous Peoples stated that they have natural laws of nature that have been developed since the beginning of time that allow them to live in harmony with nature.  From the testimony it is clear that REDD and related regimes such as carbon trading, carbon cycling, demonstrate that REDD projects inherently violate the rights of Mother Earth.  The Tribunal recommended the case be extended to receive additional testimony from experts and witnesses.

Atossa Soltani spoke of the violations of the Belo Monte Dam to nature, the Amazon Basin and the Indigenous Peoples impacted.  The dam is 7 km long and 70 meters high.  While the dam is promoted by the Brazil government as “clean energy”, the dams actually generate significant levels of methane that is 50x more potent than C)2.  Furthermore, the Belo Monte is only one of a number of dams being proposed. There have been 22 law suits that have been presented against the dam but these suits have gone no where.  The Brazilian government is disregarding these suits as well as other rulings.  Not only the rights of nature are being violated but also the rights of Indigenous Peoples and their livelihood because of the impact to the environment, fish and food sources are being impacted.  The Tribunal recommended that a special session be held in Brazil to present more evidence and to look had what parties are responsible for the violations including the government, mining consortiums, banking industry, and others.

Nnimmo Bassey noted that before he left Nigeria his temperature was checked twice.  Had his temperature been elevated by 0.8 degrees Celsius, he would have been quarantined and not allowed to leave the country.  Now at the COP we are talking about the temperature of the earth going beyond 1 or 2 degrees. It means that the earth is suffering from high fever. But we cannot quarantine the planet.  We need to quarantine the transnational corporations and those responsible for this temperature increase. These are the issues the Rights of Nature Tribunal brought forth.  This is a crime against nature.

UNFCCC Rights of Nature Press Conference video link

Click photo to view Press Conference Video

Prominent International Tribunal issues verdicts on 12 cases of violations to nature and communities

Panel finds corporations, United Nations and governments guilty of violating nature’s rights.

Alberto Acosta, President of the distinguished Tribunal and former president of the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador, led the 13 judges through 12 cases presented on the 5th and 6th of December in the Gran Hotel Bolivar in Lima. The Tribunal determined to expand the evidence, and even establish international commissions and special sessions.

“This permanent ethical tribunal is a call to humanity to encounter nature. This body arises when States fail to fulfill their obligation to preserve the lives of living beings, said Acosta. The judgments have been rendered having as a legal framework the Rights of Nature and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. “The rights of nature must have a universal validity,” he said. As long as nature is seen as property in law, there can be no justice for communities, or nature.

The 12 cases heard demonstrate egregious violations to rights of nature and human rights. The Tribunal was dedicated to Shuar leader José Tendentza who was found murdered just days before the Tribunal. Tendentza of Southern Ecuador was scheduled to present the Condor Mine case to the Tribunal. Cases included:

  • False Solutions related to Climate Change and REDD+;
  • Peruvian cases: Conga Mine, Bagua Massacre – Defenders of Earth, 4 River Basins of Peru;
  • Ecuadorian cases: Condor Mine, Chevron/Texaco, and Yasuni ITT
  • Brazil: Belo Monte Dam
  • USA and Bolivia: Hydraulic fracturing “fracking”
  • Oceans: BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, coal mine and other threats to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

The distinguished panel of judges included: Alberto Acosta, economist and former President of the Constituent Assembly from Quito, Ecuador; Verónica Mendoza, Peru Congress member, representative of the region of Cusco; Raúl Prada Alcoreza, philosopher, sociologist, author, former member of the Bolivian Constituent Assembly of 2006-2007, Bolivia; Hugo Blanco director of the monthly publication “Lucha Indígena”, Perú; Tantoo Cardinal, actress (e.g., Dances with Wolves) and activist from the Tar Sands of Canada; Blanca Chancoso, Kichwa leader and educator from Cotacachi, Imbabura, Ecuador; Edgardo Lander, sociologist, professor, from Venezuela; Tom Goldtooth, Dine’/Dakota, director of Indigenous Environmental Network from MN, USA; Francios Houtart, professor, philosopher, theologian, member of the Permanent People’s Tribunal, Belgium; Osprey Orielle Lake, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network, USA; Rocío Silva Santiesteban, National Human Rights Coordinator, author, professor, Perú; Atossa Soltani, founder and Executive Director of Amazon Watch, USA; and Terissa Turner, professor Sociology and Anthropology, former UN Energy Specialist, Canada.

Ramiro Avila, environmental attorney form Ecuador, served as Prosecutor for the Earth.  Natalia Greene and Robin Milam, Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, served as Secretariat.

Watch the Press conference at http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop20/events/2014-12-09-14-00-amazon-watch

REDD on trial: No justice as long as nature is property in law

REDD on trial: “As long as nature is seen as property in law, there can be no justice for communities, the climate or nature”

By Chris Lang of REDD Monitor. Full article at REDD on Trial
2014-12-11-151422_1131x978_scrotThe International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature took place on 5 and 6 December 2014 in Lima. On trial were corporations, the United Nations, and government. Cases included mining in Peru and Ecuador, oil extraction in Ecuador, the Belo Monte dam in Brazil, fracking in Bolivia and the USA, BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, damage to the Australian Barrier Reef. And REDD.

The judges referred to the Rights of Nature and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, from the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010.

The president of the tribunal was Alberto Acosta, former president of the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador. Acosta said,

“As long as nature is seen as property in law, there can be no justice for communities, the climate or nature.”

The case against REDD at the Tribunal is explained here:

REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is a global initiative to create a financial value for the carbon stored in native forests and tree plantations, soils and agriculture, including plankton and algae in the oceans. This involves the opening of the carbon cycling capacity of the Earth to economic valuation and trading in financial market systems. Indigenous peoples, forest dwellers, small farmers and peasants view REDD as a false solution for mitigating climate change that have resulted in land grabs, evictions and human rights abuses. REDD is inherently about commodifying and privatizing air, trees and land by selling nature and air to generate permits to pollute. These permits to pollute also known as carbon or emission credits are used by polluters to avoid reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source. This Tribunal on REDD and forests will listen to testimonies on the concern of REDD and other carbon and emissions trading and offset regimes violating the rights established in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

Mary Lou Malig of the Global Forest Coalition spoke against carbon markets:

“[They’re] basically a mechanism to cheat. It’s about enabling you to pollute. Instead of cutting your emissions, you increase them and pretend to reduce by offsetting.”

Ninawa Kaxinawá, president of the Huni Kui people in Acre, Brazil spoke out against REDD. “Nature has no price. It’s our forest, it’s our food, it’s our spirit.”

In an interview with Democracy Now, Ninawa explains that REDD prevents communities from fishing on their own land and from practising agriculture. He says that, “leaders are being criminalized for opposing the project, and communities are told that the services provided for education or transportation or healthcare will be suspended if they oppose the project.” Ninawa has received death threats for opposing REDD.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now asked Ninawa how REDD affects his community. Here’s his reply:

The first impact is that the state of Acre is one of the first states in the world that is promoting REDD, and it is the first state of the Brazilian Amazon that is doing REDD. And it has already violated Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, which guarantees indigenous people’s right to free, prior, informed consent and the right to say no to projects that affect us. So, Brazil is violating Convention 169, because indigenous peoples have not been consulted about REDD and it is moving forward.

The second impact of REDD is that it has divided indigenous leaders, who before were united to defend the territories and Mother Earth.

A third impact of REDD is that it has resulted in the co-optation of some leaders who have accepted money and bought cars with that money, and they don’t even know where that money is from and what it means.

Another impact is that the government of Brazil, because it is opening its doors to this carbon-offset mechanism, is that it’s gutting the laws and the legal framework on indigenous people’s rights and the guarantees that have been enshrined to protect our rights to our territories.

You can watch the full interview at http://www.redd-monitor.org/2014/12/11/redd-on-trial-as-long-as-nature-is-seen-as-property-in-law-there-can-be-no-justice-for-communities-the-climate-or-nature/

Nati Greene with Tom Goldtooth on Tribunal Outcomes

Tom Goldtooth of IEN interviews Natalia Greene, Secretariat, on the outcomes of the Rights of Nature Tribunal in Lima Peru December 2014.  Nati stated, “I did not expect to be so touched…”

Tribunal verdicts on violation of rights of people and nature

Press Release – International Rights of Nature Tribunal Day 2

Global Alliance for the Rights of NatureLima, Peru
December 6, 2014

  • Tribunal sentences States and transnational corporations for the violation of rights of people and nature
  • The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature judged twelve international and domestic cases.

Alberto Acosta, president of the Tribunal and former president of the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador, and the panel of 13 judges decided to admit, expand and solve 12 cases. In all of them, the Tribunal identified the violation of the rights of peoples and nature.  The cases were presented on the 5th and 6th of December in the Gran Hotel Bolivar in Lima.   The Tribunal determined to expand the evidence, and even establish international commissions and special sessions.

The judgments have been rendered having as a legal frame the Rights of Nature and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. “The rights of nature must have a universal validity,” he said.

The Tribunal has condemned Chevron-Texaco in Ecuador for using “inappropriate technology and causing irreversible damage”. It urges the corporation to proceed to a full compensation of the area, and accuses the State for allowing this exploitation. The Peruvian case of Conga was accepted and it was determined to appoint an international special commission to visit the area to collect more information. For the contamination in the four Amazonian basins (block 192), the Tribunal called for the creation of a special session in Peru for the case to be judged; that same judgment was rendered in the case of Bagua in Peru. After the concurring opinion of the judges, all Peruvian cases were accepted as threats of violation to the rights of nature.

On climate change, evidence of the broad range of violations to rights of nature which are contributing to climate change and exposure of false solutions including geoengineering were presented. The Tribunal is calling for a special hearing in Paris in 2015 to coincide with the upcoming UN COP 21 summit. The Tribunal also considers it necessary to express to the UN its concern about a scenario that includes the use of high-risk energy. Also, the government of Queensland, Australia was convicted for violating the rights of the nature of the Great Barrier Reef.

Oil exploitation in the Yasuni was also convicted through the ratification of the two previous judgments, and the popular initiative promoted by the group of Yasunidos was supported. The Tribunal also condemned the constant persecution of this group. Another case that was judged was the mining project in the Cordillera del Condor. The Tribunal determined that it is essential to suspend mining, compensate those affected; and urged the State to investigate and punish those responsible for the death of José Tendentza. In commemoration of this social activist, the Tribunal held in Lima will bear his name.

‘Baguazo’

On Saturday, the Tribunal opened a hearing on the case of Bagua, of which five years after it started, 52 indigenous leaders have cases filed against them. Ismael Vega, anthropologist from the Centro Amazónico de Antropología y Ampliación Práctica (CAAAP) called the ‘Baguazo’ an “emblematic case”, because according to the expert, since this case could happen again if existing policies and conditions are not modified. “Bagua makes visible the mismatch between the indigenous population and the state. This lack of dialogue still exists” sentenced Vega.

Miguel Jugo, from the National Coordinator of Human Rights, mentioned the context that motivated the protests. The “Law of the Jungle” refers to the application of ten legislative norms and laws under the context of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Peru and the USA, laws that dealt with the lives of indigenous peoples. As a result, in 2008 began the protests of the Amazonian indigenous peoples, which were confronted by government forces. Jugo alleged irregularities surrounding the trial of the indigenous people, “the judgment is contrary to the Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the preliminary investigation was even conducted without translators”. Jugo added, “There is no evidence against the 52 processed people”.

‘Fracking’

“You cannot do safe hydraulic fracking. This technique should have never been invented. It is one of the most destructive activities against the environment ever seen,” said Shannon Biggs blunt, director of Movement Rights. The American specialist says there are 800,000 active oil and gas wells in this country, and about 300,000 natural gas barrels produced per day. Biggs alerted about the water pollution due to chemicals used, as a result of using this technique. It also highlights that fracking causes earthquakes in areas that had never experienced this phenomenon. Camp Casey, American Indian from Oklahoma, laments: “We die for the use of fracking. The population is suffering from cancer; my sister has died. The water is contaminated; we cannot fish. We are in danger of extinction. ”

From Bolivia, plans to develop large-scale hydraulic fracking on their soil were also reported. In recent years the country has increased the production and export of natural gas; during the years 2000-2012 it increased by 382.6%. However, it exports 82.4% of its production. Also, the export of this hydrocarbon generates more than six billion dollars a year, as reported by the specialist Martin Vilela, Platform Climate Reaction.

Bolivia has 8.23 trillion cubic feet of gas, and YPFB plans to invest 40,670 million between 2013 and 2015. Vilela explained that in 2013 this corporation signed an agreement for fracking in the Chaco area, a region with water scarcity. If it starts, the extraction of 48 trillion cubic feet of shale gas would consume between 112 and 335 billion liters of water.

False solutions to climate change and REDD

The Tribunal heard two related cases, one on climate change and its false solutions and one on the mechanisms for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD +). In the case of climate change, the case of contamination and temperature rise affecting Nigeria was exposed. The African continent has oil fields and pipelines that have caused a deep environmental degradation, deforestation, and countless oil spills, among others. This deplorable living conditions have caused life expectancy in this area is 44 years.

Added to this, the ravages of climate change may have catastrophic consequences. Activist Nnimmo Bassey says: “For every degree the temperature rises globally, in Africa, it will increase an additional 50%”. In 2012 floods in Nigeria led to the relocation of 6 million inhabitants. The activist says that in 2030 Africa violent conflicts will increase by 54% due to the lack of access to natural resources.

At the hearing against false solutions, geoengineering techniques that seek to manipulate climate without changing the conditions that cause climate change were reported.

REDD+ was also put on trial. In Brazil the existence of this mechanism is very present. The Ninawa Apu complaint saying: “REDD presents a liar proposal. We do not accept to market nature because it is our soul and spirit; it is priceless, it is our voice. ”

Ruth Nyambura, environmentalist from Biodiversity Network Africa, says that in Kenya, as a result of REDD, evictions occur: “Four indigenous people were arrested and a woman was hit by the forest service because she was outside of her land.”

The Australian Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral system. It is the largest structure made by living organisms and can be seen from space. It was listed as a World Heritage site in 1981 by UNESCO, and UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee warned the Australian Government in 2012 that this unique natural system is being threatened by escalating industrial developments, including the expansion of ports for exporting coal. Dr Erin Fitz-Henry, from the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, condemned the violation of rights of the Great Barrier Reef, and stressed the great biodiversity that could be destroyed: “This reef is composed of more than 600 types of coral and thousands of species of marine life. The Tribunal issued a final judgment in this case.

Oil exploitation of Yasuni

Since 2013, the Ecuadorian government allowed oil drilling in Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, home to 2 indigenous nationalities in voluntary isolation.

The fact provoked a group of young (Yasunidos) to join and protest and claim for the rights of nature which are guaranteed in the Constitution of Ecuador. Yasunidos collected more than 800,000 signatures to call for a referendum about oil exploitation in the Yasuni; but the request was rejected because the electoral institutions invalidated fraudulently more than 60% of the signatures.

For all of these events, Yasunidos has sued the Ecuadorian government, led by President Rafael Correa, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) and are awaiting for their complaint to reach the Tribunal.

Tribunal Denounces Violations to Rights of Nature

Press Release – International Rights of Nature Tribunal Day 1

Lima, December 6th, 2014-12-06

  • Indigenous peoples represent nature and denounce violations to indigenous rights and  rights of nature perpetuated by States and transnational corporations.
  • Native peoples warn the world about corporate impunity.

During the first day of the  International Rights of Nature  Tribunal six cases were presented: four Amazonian river basins in Loreto; BP; Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Chevron/Texaco in Ecuador; Conga Mine of Peru; Belo Monte in Brazil and Condor Mirador in Ecuador. Transnational corporations and States are under scrutiny by the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature which is being held in Lima, Friday December 5 – Saturday December 6. Cases of national and international importance are being heard to present the violations of the rights of nature and indigenous rights within the framework of the COP20 in Lima.

“This permanent ethical Tribunal is a call to humanity to get close to nature. The cases have been created when States fail to fulfill their obligation to preserve the lives of living beings,” said Alberto Acosta, President of the Tribunal and former president of the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador.

Peruvian Cases: Conga and Pluspetrol (4 river basins)

“Yanacocha in Cajamarca is a deep wound on Mother Earth,” lamented Milton Sanchez from the Plataforma Interinstitucional Celendín. Sanchez told the audience about the whole trajectory of contamination at Yanacocha. Also, the environmentalist denounced that this project will destroy water sources in the region.

“85,000 tons of toxic sludge per day will be poured for 17 years” he said. Milton condemed President Humala for failing to meet his promise to ensure the right to water of communities. José de Echave, director of CooperAcción, said that free, prior, and informed consent was not done with the inhabitants, despite the Consultation Law. He further stressed that the Environmental Impact Assessment presented was “inconsistent, incomplete and violated national standards.”

Regarding the case of block 192 in the Loreto jungle, José Fachín represented the Pastaza basin. He told the Tribunal that a year ago he was imprisoned, tortured and judicialized. He affirms that “for over forty years, the oil industry has caused the death of humans and animals.” Although the state has declared a state of Emergency, he denounced the Government’s and Pluspetrol’s lack of action. He demands to sanction Pluspetrol and to determine the State’s responsibilities for not protecting their rights and the rights of nature.

Ecuadorian cases: Condor Mirador and Chevron-Texaco

The Condor Highland is crossed by a series of large scale mining projects, such as Condor Mirador. Luis Corral, defender of human and nature rights, said that this case violates collective and nature rights. He denounced the murder of the social activist, José Tendentza, who was summoned to attend the Tribunal as a witness for this case. The Shuar leader, Ankuash, condemned this project and declared, “Nature and humans are allies, if one disappears, the other does too.” Meanwhile, Narcisa Aucay, inhabitant of the region said, “they are not going to shut us down. We have been taught to live freely, with honor and dignity.”

Also presented in the Tribunal was the case of Chevron-Texaco that extracted oil since 1967 in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The corporation built 860 pools where toxic waste was dumped. Currently, there are more than 2,000 cases of cancer attributable to toxic waste dumped by the oil activity. Pablo Fajardo, lawyer for the Chevron victims concludes that “the case was won, but the Ecuadorian Amazon is not clean”; he also informed that Chevron does not accept the judgments for environmental remediation, so there is an affectation to the international rights.”

BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Case

Esperanza Martínez, from Oilwatch, presented the case of the oils spill in 2010 of the oil platform of the Gulf of Mexico that caused the spill of 5 millions of barrels of oil and the death of 11 workers. Martinez described the spill as the “worst in humanity’s lifetime” and de denounces the effect of millions of species that live in the ocean. She also informed the Tribunal that the cleaning mecanism used by the BP company that reduced oil particles that are now absorbed by the species. Brazilian case of Belo Monte The Tribunal also heard the BP case, the mega-dam built now up to 50% and that will become the third in the world. “The people’s food is being affected, fishing is no longer an option in the region. Nacionalities cannot drink their own water due to the hydroelectric activity” warned Sonia Guajajara.

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