Archive for Human rights

WE ARE ALL RELATED: Working together to fight fossil fuels

Pennie Opal Plant, LUSH Blog, May 2016
Author Pennie Opal Plant -Yaqui, Mexican, English, Choctaw, Cherokee and European leader and Ponca elder and tribal councilwoman, Casey Camp Horinek

Author Pennie Opal Plant is of Yaqui, Mexican, English, Choctaw, Cherokee and European ancestry. She’s been an activist for over 30 years on anti-nuclear, environmental and indigenous rights, and has been a lecturer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Pennie is also a founding member of Idle No More San Francisco Bay, is involved in promoting the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, and founded Gathering Tribes in 1991.

As I write this, I’ve just returned from seeing my niece’s newborn baby girl. As I gazed into her eyes, I said a silent prayer hoping we can find a way to shift the systems of government and business that have allowed the sacred system of life to become so out of balance that everything is now threatened. I also prayed that when she’s an adult that she’d live in a world that’s healthy, sustainable, vibrantly beautiful…and in balance.

“We are all related.” No doubt you’ve heard this phrase before, especially if you have friends who are Indigenous to North America. It has many meanings to many people, but ultimately it means that all of life on Mother Earth’s belly is related or connected. After more than 500 years of Indigenous People of the Americas sharing this information, it’s finally been proven. It’s past time for the western world to listen to the Indigenous People who are traditional and doing their best to live within the Original Instructions, guidelines given to people at the beginning of time, which dictate how to live in balance with our relations and the intelligent forces of nature. It would be a shame for humans to continue to violate these instructions to such an extent that life, as we know it can no longer be supported.

For the complete article visit: WE ARE ALL RELATED: Working together to fight fossil fuels at LUSH Blog.

Pennie is also co-founder of Movement Rights:
Shifting culture and law to truly protect people is the civil rights struggle of our time and its already happening in communities across the nation. Changing the rules will require more than tinkering at the margins of the current legal, political and corporate-led economic system; it will require a system change from the grassroots. It all begins with neighbors coming together to change their community. Movement Rights provides organizing and legal support for communities to assert their right to local self governance with our partners; leadership and international movement building for the rights of nature; and connects Indigenous leadership, wisdom and analysis toward living in balance with natural systems.  

Assassination of South Africa community leader opposing mining by Australian Company



We are appalled at the brutal assassination of Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe from Mdatya village, the chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee.  We have had the privilege of working with Bazooka and of representing the people who live along the Wild Coast in Amadiba Administrative Area 24 in their attempts to stop the proposed N2 Wild Coast Toll Highway for almost a decade.  Now a brave and principled man, a real character beloved by his community, is dead because he refused to be bullied or bought, and instead stood up for his culture, his community, for their beautiful land, and for what is right.

Our condolences go out to his family, friends and community who have lost a husband, father, friend, and leader.

For many years Bazooka and the communities which he represented have been successfully resisting the proposed mining of the Wild Coast by an Australian mining company (MRC) and Sanral’s project to construct a toll highway through their lands and very close to the proposed mining sites. They have steadfastly resisted all the inducements offered by the proponents of these projects. When it became apparent that the communities could not be bought off, the violence began to escalate. First armed men attacked community members (including the headwoman) with pangas and guns and now this. The obvious question is “Who benefits from this assassination?”

We salute the incredible courage of the Amadiba coastal communities who have responded to this horrifying act by reiterating that they will not be intimidated into submission and that the mining will not go ahead.  We call on everyone who believes in justice and democracy to join us in demanding that the Minister of Police ensures that competent and unbiased investigators be assigned to apprehend the assassins as soon as possible, to uncover who sent them and to bring them to trial.  Anything less is unacceptable in our democracy.

In South Africa, click to read: 82 organisations want Wild Coast mining applications suspended after ‘assassination’

Cape Town – Eighty-two civil society organisations on Wednesday condemned the murder of an anti-mining activist on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, and called for all mining applications to be suspended.

“We demand that the minister of mineral resources suspends all mining applications until there has been a full and independent investigation of Rhadebe’s murder!” the 82 civil society organisations said in a joint statement.

Amadiba Crisis Committee chairperson Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe was shot multiple times in his upper body, Eastern Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Khaya Tonjeni told Fin24 on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Wild Coast anti-mining leader murdered

Submitted by Cormac Cullinan  BA (Hons) LLB LLM (Environmental Law)

Director, Cullinan & Associates

Earth Law Update – March 2, 2016

From Tom Brenan, Gaia Foundation

  • The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has released its judgment in the case of Kaliña and Lokono Peoples v Suriname, nine years after the case was first submitted by Chiefs of the eight Kaliña and Lokon villages of the Lower Marowijne River and Association of Village Leaders in Suriname. The Court found Suriname responsible for violations of the American Convention on Human Rights due to the failure to recognise and guarantee legal personality and territorial rights of the Kaliña and Lokono as well as breaches of these and other rights in connection with bauxite mining, grants of individual titles to non-indigenous persons and restrictions imposed in two nature reserves. It gave orders with deadlines to comply. The Court said that ‘respect for the rights of the indigenous peoples may have a positive impact on environmental conservation’ and that ‘the rights of the indigenous peoples and international environmental laws should be understood as complementary’.
  • The Green Party of England and Wales has become the first UK-wide political party to vote Rights of Nature into their policies. This follows an overwhelming vote in favour at the party’s spring conference on 28th The Scottish Green Party introduced a Rights of Nature policy at their autumn conference in 2015. The vote for Rights of Nature builds on the Green Party’s current commitment to support the development of an international law of ecocide.
  • The Center for Earth Jurisprudence will hold the third in its Protecting our Common Home webinar series on 16th The focus will be “Florida Constitutional Revision Committee and a ‘Community Rights’ Amendment Protecting Human and Ecological Health”.

The Paris COP21 failure demonstrates climate justice lies beyond the “Red Line”

Movement Rights Blog, By Shannon Biggs and Pennie Opal Plant, December 21, 2015

If you’ve been confused by the conflicting reports of the success COP 21 negotiations, you’re not alone. On the final day of the UN climate talks, President Obama issued a statement boasting words the nation, the ministers from 196 negotiating countries and the world wanted to hear: “We met the moment.  We came together around a strong agreement the world needed.” The mainstream media quickly heralded the final agreement as The world’s Greatest Diplomatic Success”   and “Big Green” environmental groups like the Sierra Club   and Avaaz blogged that while it may not be the war, as far as the battle goes, “WE WON.”

The Paris COP21 failure demonstrates climate justice lies beyond the “Red Line”

photo links to Movement Rights Blog

Reports of victory (or the whiff of a qualified victory) quickly flooded the internet. Yet standing on the streets of Paris on December 12—lined with over 10,000 people carrying red tulips and unfurling giant red ribbons defying the ban on demonstrations and condemning world leaders failure to put forward a meaningful, binding agreement—we puzzled, and wondered if we were at the same summit. From the red line action on the outside, many justice activists, economists, experts, NGO participants and Indigenous leaders had a very different take on the outcome. Former Bolivian climate negotiator, Pablo Solon told Democracy Now! “The Paris Agreement Will See the Planet Burn.”

So what does the Paris Agreement say that is creating the division of opinions? 

Read the authors’ outline of what IS and what IS NOT in the Paris UNFCCC agreement at A Quick Guide to the Paris Agreement 
as well as an assessment of who is celebrating and why.

About the authors:

Shannon Biggs, Casey Camp Horinek, and Pennie Opal Plant Movement Rights co-founders Shannon Biggs and Pennie  Opal Plant were in Paris for the COP 21 climate events, and to promote grassroots alternatives to the current UN process including co-producing a report on Rights of Nature, co- hosting a beyond-capacity Rights of Nature tribunal that turned away over 1,000 people, co-leading a ceremony for the signing of an international Indigenous Women’s Treaty for Mother Earth, among many other actions, interventions and activities, very often led by our board member, Indigenous leader and Ponca elder, Casey Camp Horinek (pictured). 

Fighting for Our Shared Future: Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature’s Rights.

Fighting for Our Shared Future Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature's Rights ELC ReportBy Linda Sheehan and Grant Wilson,
Earth Law Center (ELC)

Available online at:

Paris, France—December 3, 2015, San Francisco Bay Area-based Earth Law Center (ELC) released a comprehensive report detailing “co-violations” of nature’s rights and human rights worldwide. “Co-violations” occur when governments, industries, or others violate both the rights of nature and human rights with the same action.

ELC’s groundbreaking report, Fighting for Our Shared Future: Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature’s Rights, and associated map are being released concurrent with the COP21 climate talks in Paris.

The report examines 100 examples of rights co-violations worldwide, and it delves into four case studies as examples: mining for iron ore, copper, and numerous other substances in Lapland, Scandinavia (“Europe’s Last Wilderness”); release of industrial pollution in Sarnia, Ontario (home to the severely impacted Aamjiwnaang First Nation); open-pit copper and gold mining in the magnificent Cordillera del Cóndor, Ecuador (the “Mirador Mine,” which would devastate local indigenous communities); and the rapid disappearance of the formerly-massive Lake Chad in Africa due to over-diversion and climate change.

As discussed, the natural world has inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. Humans do not “give” inherent rights to nature. Like fundamental human rights, nature’s inherent rights exist because nature exists. However, our laws ignore these core rights, and we and the Earth are paying an increasingly heavy price for that mistake. For example, scientists have found that “[w]ithout concrete, immediate actions, it is extremely likely that Earth’s life-support systems will be irretrievably damaged by 2050.” Defenders of environmental rights, however, are being harassed, arrested and even killed for their activities to prevent this damage.

“Across the globe, we injure both people and ecosystems by treating the natural world as property to fuel mythically infinite economic growth,” states ELC Executive Director Linda Sheehan. “These injuries increasingly represent simultaneous violations, or ‘co-violations,’ of human rights and nature’s rights. We must reverse this trend by evolving our laws and courts to recognize that our well-being is inextricably linked with the Earth’s.”

Among other conclusions, the report finds that:

  • In over half of the cases compiled, the state was implicated as a perpetrator of rights co-violations, either alone or with industry. This finding is consistent with United Nations studies.
  • Over 60 percent of the co-violations compiled involved extractive industries and energy production, which accounted for almost 60 percent of the environmental defender killings reported in these cases.
  • The sources of co-violations are rarely addressed adequately, if they are addressed at all.
  • We cannot protect human rights without also addressing the planet’s own right to a healthy climate.

The report also highlights specific solutions, including:

  • Adoption at the local, national and international levels of enforceable laws recognizing the inherent rights of nature, as well as U.N. adoption of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (UDRME).
  • Creation of courts to hear and rule on nature’s rights violations, including co-violations with human rights, with swift implementation in the interim of International Rights of Nature Tribunal judgments.
  • Establishment of global and national moratoriums on particular sources of co-violations.
  • Provision of emergency protection to at-risk environmental defenders.
  • Adoption of an enforceable international climate change agreement reflecting the right to a healthy climate.
  • Other actions consistent with our responsibility under the UDRME for “living in harmony with Mother Earth.”

# # #

Linda Sheehan is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA where she advocates for recognition of nature’s rights in law. She brings 20 years of law and policy experience to ELC, including numerous successes in enforcing and funding environmental laws. For her efforts in “fight[ing] pollution of the Pacific and the streams and rivers that flow into it,” Linda was recognized as a “California Coastal Hero.” Linda is a member of the Commission on Environmental Law in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and teaches Earth Law as Summer Faculty at Vermont Law School.
Grant Wilson is Outreach and Policy Coordinator of Earth Law Center.  Grant Wilson has worked to advance environmental law and policy campaigns in the United States and throughout the world. Grant has published law journal articles including “Deepwater Horizon and the Law of the Sea: Was the Cure Worse than the Disease?” and “Murky Waters: Ambiguous International Law for Ocean Fertilization and Other Geoengineering.” Grant earned a degree in Environmental Policy from Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University, and a J.D. with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.

Prepared with Yale’s Environmental Protection Clinic, the report analyzes 100 examples worldwide of “co-violations” of human rights and nature’s rights and provides recommendations for change.

Making Peace with the Earth

Vandana Shiva asked us to share this personal video message to Paris and to everyone on “Making Peace with the Earth.” Please watch and share.

We also invite you to sign A People’s Pact for Protection of the Earth and Each Other  individually and on behalf of your organization.



Amnesty International solidarity with Fundacion Pachamama


Amnesty International is showing their solidarity for Ecuador Civil Society and Fundacion Pachamama with an urgent call to action. Check it out here:

Ecuador government dissolves Fundación Pachamama

Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature supports Fundación Pachamama

On December 4, 2013 the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador ordered the dissolution of Fundación Pachamama, a founding member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.  Fundación Pachamama  – an advocate for human, indigenous, and nature’s rights – played a central role in establishing Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution.  In violation of the rule of law and the Constitution,  police closed the offices of Fundación Pachamama  without affording the foundation an opportunity to respond to the trumped up allegations that it is “interfering in public policy” and “endangering the internal security and peace.”

This dissolution is a violation of the legitimate right of Fundación Pachamama as a member of civil society to disagree with the government’s decisions, such as the decision to turn over Amazonian indigenous people’s land to oil companies in direct violation of their constitutional rights and the rights of nature. The national government of Ecuador has repeatedly sought to interfere with the important work of civil society organizations advocating for the protection of the natural environment and peoples of Ecuador. We believe that this attempt to silence Fundación Pachamama is part of a concerted attack by the current government of Ecuador on all Ecuadorians who are working for the realisation of the vision of living well in harmony with Nature which is enshrined in the Constitution of Ecuador.

We stand in support of Fundación Pachamama and freedom of speech in Ecuador. We demand that the Ministry of Environment immediately revoke its order dissolving the foundation and  call upon people and organizations around the world to join us in condemning this repressive act and in intensifying our efforts to advance human, nature and collective rights.

Actions you can take: