Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature http://therightsofnature.org The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature Sat, 23 Apr 2016 17:56:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Assassination of South Africa community leader opposing mining by Australian Companyhttp://therightsofnature.org/wild-law/assassination-bazooka-rhadebe/ Thu, 24 Mar 2016 16:54:35 +0000 http://therightsofnature.org/?p=29387 Sikhosiphi-Bazooka-Rhadebe

STATEMENT BY CULLINAN AND ASSOCIATES:

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

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What would the Delta say? Putting California’s Twin Tunnels on Trialhttp://therightsofnature.org/rights-of-nature-perspectives/delta-tribunal-2016/ Wed, 23 Mar 2016 16:15:25 +0000 http://therightsofnature.org/?p=29379

What would the Delta Say? Putting California’s Twin Tunnels on Trial

Bay Area Rights of Nature People's TribunalFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2016

Contact: 

Shannon Biggs, Movement Rights (415) 841-2998 shannon@movementrights.org

Linda Sheehan,  Earth Law Center (510) 219-7730 lsheehan@earthlaw.org

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta(209) 479-2053, barbara@restorethedelta.org

BAY-DELTA TRIBUNAL PUTS STATE & NATIONAL LEGAL SYSTEM ON TRIAL

California’s Proposed Twin Tunnels Case to be Heard

 

 th-1Antioch, CA – “What would the San Francisco Bay-Delta ecosystem say?” is the question a panel of judges will consider when examining a case brought before them in the first-ever Bay Area Rights of Nature Tribunal based on an international rights of nature tribunal held in Paris during the climate talks last December. It’s a question gaining ground as dozens of U.S. and international communities and a handful of countries have begun recognizing rights and legal standing for ecosystems as a new framework for environmental protection. The tribunal will be held on April 30 at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center in Antioch, CA 9:30 AM-2 PM.

iur  The case being brought before the tribunal address nature’s, community, and human rights violations presented by Governor Brown’s water policies, and particularly his proposed Twin Tunnel plan, which would significantly reduce flows needed for Delta waterways and fish. The tribunal is being put on by the Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance (BARONA) —a network of organizations seeking to explore how recognizing legal standing for ecosystems can put new governance tools in the hands of communities.

save_the_delta_-_stop_the_tunnels_1In addition to detailing rights violations, Tribunal witnesses and experts will also offer solutions to water flow and economic development challenges that protect, not injure, human and nature’s rights. “We are pleased to work with BARONA to make the case for the San Francisco Bay-Delta,” says Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director for Restore the Delta, a group that has been working to fight the governor’s plan and support sound water alternatives.“The Delta is an imperiled national treasure — a home for wildlife, fisheries, and human culture. After 30 years of over-pumping, the Delta Tunnels proposal would complete the destruction of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas. Those who view the Delta as simply another water source to be drained are in for a fight. The people and wildlife of the Delta will not be erased.”

“The proposed project not only violate nature’s rights and human rights, but also illustrates that our laws legalize such harms,” adds Linda Sheehan of the Earth Law Center. “This Tribunal is about confronting a system of laws that places people and nature in harm’s way, and demonstrating a new way forward.”

Judges for the tribunal include: renowned eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, governmental liaison for the Winnemem Wintu tribe Gary Mulcahy, Movement Rights director, Shannon Biggs and others to be  confirmed.

Rights of nature is a global movement that has been named one of the Top Ten Grassroots Movements Taking on the World by Shift Magazine. International Tribunals in Paris, Lima and Quito have recognized nature’s rights, as has the Pope and other leading figures. “Rather than treating nature as property under the law, rights of nature acknowledges that the ecosystem—in this case the Delta itself—is a rights-bearing entity,” concluded Shannon Biggs, Director of Movement Rights, a group that assists California communities pass laws that place the rights of communities and ecosystems above corporate interests. “Mendocino County and Santa Monica have already recognized these rights in order to ban fracking and develop sustainability initiatives.”

This event is free and open to the public, but will require an RSVP. Donations encouraged. Please mark your calendars and join the growing movement for nature’s rights

 


MovementRigts-Colour-sq-ncMovement Rights promotes community, indigenous, and nature’s rights. Movement Rights is a fiscally sponsored project of the Oakland Institute. We are supported by individual donations and small foundation grants.  Please consider supporting our work and joining our list serve to keep up to date on the movement for rights-based change.   Thank you!

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Greens commit to Rights of Nature lawhttp://therightsofnature.org/wild-law/ecologist-ron-green-party/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 18:25:47 +0000 http://therightsofnature.org/?p=29320 TheEcologist, 29th February 2016

Photo: 攝影家9號 - Photographer No.9 via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

Photo: 攝影家9號 – Photographer No.9 via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

“At its Spring Conference in Harrogate yesterday the Green Party of England & Wales gave formal recognition to the Rights of Nature in an overwhelming vote, committing it to passing a new law to that effect at the earliest opportunity.

The Green Party of England & Wales yesterday became the first UK-wide political party to vote Rights of Nature into their policies.

The motion was passed overwhelmingly by the conference floor. The full text that was passed was worked on in coordination with Mari Margil from CELDF (Community Environmental League Defence Fund), and Mumta Ito from the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature.

Rights of Nature is a growing environmental movement calling for new legal tools to be developed to defend nature’s ecosystems. Central to this is the rejection of market valuations of nature and the recognition that nature will only be protected if we respect its innate value in law.”

Read the full article at: Greens commit to Rights of Nature law, The Ecologist

The Rights of Nature must be recognized in law, TheEcologist, 25th February 2016

In an earlier article dated 25 February, Atus Mariqueo-Russell & Rupert Read reported The Rights of Nature must be recognised in law

“Existing models of protecting nature are failing, write Atus Mariqueo-Russell & Rupert Read. They serve to regulate, rather than prevent the destruction of nature, and are now adopting the very ‘market’ approaches that are largely responsible for the problem. The answer is to give formal effect to the Rights of Nature.

'Diagonal Nature' - Picos de Europa, Asturias, Spain. Photo: Pablo Fernández via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

‘Diagonal Nature’ – Picos de Europa, Asturias, Spain. Photo: Pablo Fernández via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Capitalism’s favoured economistic approach will not protect the environment, because it involves a further commodification of nature’s ecosystems – embracing precisely the same framework that has failed us so miserably.

At this week’s Green Party conference we will be putting forward a proposal to adopt Rights of Nature into the Green Party’s policies.

Central to this motion are the rights of nature to ‘exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, as well as the right to restoration’.

Currently Britain’s piecemeal environmental regulations consider nature as an object of commerce within the law, and thus they prevent us from protecting ecosystems in any meaningful sense.

The best our law can provide is the regulation of nature’s destruction; a mitigation of the worst excesses of rampant extractivist neoliberalism.”

Read the full article at: TheEcologist The Rights of Nature must be recognised in law.

 

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COP out – Earth’s Rights neglected in favour of market driven forceshttp://therightsofnature.org/rights-of-nature-perspectives/cop-out-earths-rights-neglected-in-favour-of-market-driven-forces/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 18:05:45 +0000 http://therightsofnature.org/?p=29317

COP out – Earth’s Rights neglected in favour of market driven forces

By Cormac Cullinan, Cullinan & Associates, 29 February 2016
When world leaders celebrated a ‘decisive’ outcome at COP21 they were inadvertently demonstrating the utter futility of continuing to believe that we can rely on United Nations processes to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Commenting on the December 2015 Paris Agreement that emerged from COP21 climate talks George Monbiot wrote:  “By comparison to what it [the Paris Agreement] could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.” (Guardian, 12th December 2015). Monbiot was pointing to the fact that while negotiators and their French hosts had done much better than expected, what they agreed remains woefully inadequate to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Paris Agreement is probably as good a deal as could have come out of COP 21, and the participants deserve credit for that. However if the apex of 21 years of climate negotiations is an agreement that far, far too weak to protect the right to life (let alone to dignity) of many millions of people and other species, then what is there to celebrate and what do we do now?

As the political leaders and diplomats worked to polish the text of the Paris Agreement that would “cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion: …. for nations to build clean, resilient futures” (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52802#.VnACGtJ9600), across town at the Maison des Métallos others were already constructing that future.  Organisations and communities from around the globe demonstrated that if governments don’t deliver, people must take the initiative, by signing a Peoples’ Convention to establish an International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature. For two days the Tribunal judges heard a wide range of cases concerning alleged violations of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, including cases on climate change, the commercialization of Nature, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), fracking, mega dams in Brazil and ecocide.

More than 65 people from 32 nationalities[1] (including many indigenous people) speaking in seven languages[2] participated as judges Earth Defenders, experts or witnesses.  People flocked to the hearings and more than a thousand people who wanted tickets had to be turned away because the venue was full.

Read full article at  COP out – Earth’s Rights neglected in favour of market driven forces

http://cullinans.co.za/blog/article/cop-out-earths-rights-neglected-in-favour-of-market-driven-forces

About Cormac Cullinan 

Cormac Cullinan is a founding member of the Executive Committee of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.  He served as President of the Paris International Rights of Nature Tribunal. Cormac is an author, practising environmental attorney and governance expert who has worked on environmental governance issues in more than 20 countries. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa and is a director of Cullinan & Associates, a specialist environmental and green business law firm (www.cullinans.co.za) and of the governance consultancy, EnAct International (www.enact-international.com ).

His groundbreaking book “Wild Law A Manifesto for Earth Justice” has played a significant role in informing and inspiring a growing international movement to recognise rights for Nature. In 2008 he was included in Planet Savers. 301 Extraordinary Environmentalists, a book that profiles environmentalists throughout history. At the invitation of Bolivia, Cormac spoke at the 2009 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and led the drafting of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth which was proclaimed on 22 April 2010 by the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia. In September 2010 he played a leading role in establishing a Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and currently sits on the Executive Committee of the Alliance.

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Recognizing the Rights of Nature and the Living Foresthttp://therightsofnature.org/united-nations/recognizing-living-forest/ Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:57:37 +0000 http://therightsofnature.org/?p=29258 By Osprey Orielle Lake, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network International

During COP21 U.N. climate negotiations and actions by the climate justice movement in Paris, two truly transformational ideas were presented that challenge dominant destructive paradigms and instead offer deep systemic change. Today, we invite you to READ and SHARE this article by WECAN Executive Director, Osprey Orielle Lake, sharing the ‘revolutionary and evolutionary’ concepts of Rights of Nature and Kawsak Sacha, ‘the Living Forest’.

Sarayaku Indigenous opening

It is critical to note that the land of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku, who provide the vision of Kawsak Sacha, was signed away last week to Chinese companies for oil extraction. The Kichwa people have nurtured and successfully protected the forest from oil drilling for decades, but this new threat is dire. As we embrace and learn from their critical proposals, we MUST stand up and take effective action in support of the Kichwa, Sapara and all others resisting extraction in the Amazon. WECAN will soon be traveling to Ecuador for solidarity actions.

“The message our Living Forest proposal delivers is aimed at the entire world with the goal of reaching the hearts and minds of human beings everywhere, encouraging us all to reflect on the close relation between Human Rights and the Rights of Nature.”‎ —From Kawsak Sacha, The Living Forest: An Indigenous Proposal for Confronting Climate Change, presented by the Amazonian Kichwa People of Sarayaku, Ecuador

Read Osprey Orielle Lake’s compelling article: Recognizing the Rights of Nature and the Living Forest in EcoWatch now.

Osprey Orielle Lake is the founder and executive director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International and co-chair of International Advocacy for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. Osprey is the author of the award-winning book Uprisings for the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature. Follow on Twitter @WECAN_INTL.

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Eco-Instigator On International Rights of Nature Tribunalhttp://therightsofnature.org/useful/eco-instigator-ron-tribunal/ Tue, 26 Jan 2016 20:56:22 +0000 http://therightsofnature.org/?p=29207 Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) released the December 2015 edition of eco-Instigator with a detailed article on the International Rights of Nature Tribunal held in Paris during COP21.  Nnimmo Bassey served on the panel of distinguished judges at the Tribunal in Paris and presented for the Case on False Solutions for Climate Change during the Tribunal in Lima, Peru in December 2014.

Nnimmo Eco-I 10 CoverNnimmo Bassey

Nnimmo Bassey is founding Director of HOMEF and serves on the Foundation’s Advisory Board.

An architect, environmental and Rights of Mother Earth activist, author and poet, Nnimmo’s Reflections (Oil Politics): sharing opinion. mobilising for change. present profound food for thought and a way forward.

Nnimmo chaired Friends of the Earth International from 2008 through 2012 and was Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action for two decades. He was one of Time magazine’s Heroes of the Environment in 2009. In 2010, Nnimmo Bassey was named Right Livelihood Award “…for revealing the full ecological and human horrors of oil production and for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally.” and in 2012 he was awarded the Rafto Prize as a Defender of victims of climate change.

Health of Mother Earth Foundation

“HOMEF is an environmental/ecological think tank and advocacy organisation. It is rooted in solidarity and in the building and protection of human and collective dignity.

We believe that neoliberal agendas driven by globalization of exploitation of the weak, despoliation of ecosystems and lack of respect for Mother Earth thrive mostly because of the ascendancy of enforced creed of might is right. This ethic permits the powerful to pollute, grab resources and degrade/destroy the rest simply because they can do so. HOMEF recognizes that this reign of (t)error can best be tackled through a conscious examination of the circumstances by which the trend crept in and got entrenched. Thus, HOMEF will have as a cardinal work track continuous political education aimed at examining the roots of exploitation of resources, labour, peoples and entire regions. HOMEF hopes through this to contribute to the building of movements for recovery of memory, dignity and harmonious living with full respect of natural cycles of Mother Earth.

Three key areas of focus are fossil fuels, the politics of hunger and creating spaces for knowledge generation and sharing.

The Advisory Board is composed of women and men who have distinguished themselves in the struggle for environmental justice and the rights of Mother Earth: – See more at: http://www.homef.org/content/about-home “

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Two Good Days When Crimes Against Nature Were Exposedhttp://therightsofnature.org/ron-events/two-good-days-paris/ Tue, 26 Jan 2016 12:04:07 +0000 http://therightsofnature.org/?p=29222 By Nnimmo Bassey

For two days in the Maison des Metallos, Paris, experts, victims, prosecutors and judges presented or listened to cases of crimes against Mother Earth and at the end judgements were passed. There were solemn spiritual moments, moments of awe at the rapacious destructive capacities of humanity and many moments of tears as these destructions, including murders, were painted in words and pictures.

The International Rights of Nature Tribunal held parallel to the UNFCCC’s Conference of Parties where historical and current climate atrocities or real solutions are loath to be mentioned, not even in square brackets.from NnimmoThe Tribunal derives its authority from the peoples of the world as the children of the Earth. The basic framework comes from the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth (UDRME) that was adopted at the Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in April 2010 after the spectacular failure of COP15 in Copenhagen. At the commencement of the sitting of the Tribunal on 4 December 2015, the presiding judge, Cormac Cullinan, led other judges to vote and formally adopt the Convention and Statutes of the tribunal. These guide the running of the Tribunal and underscore the solemn duty of sitting as judges on the cases of infringements against Mothrer Earth.

This was the third session of the Tribunal, having sat first in Quito, Ecuador in January 2014 and then in Lima, Peru in December of the same year. The Tribunal was hosted by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature in conjunction with NatureRights, End Ecocide on Earth and Attac France with Natalia Greene heading the secretariat.

As I sat on the panel of judges along with Tom Goldtooth (USA), Alberto Acosta (Ecuador), Osprey Orielle (USA), Terisa Turna (Canada), Felicio Pontes (Brazil), Damien Short (UK), Attosa Soltani (USA), Ruth Nyambura (Kenya), Christophe Bonneuil (France), Philippe Desbrosses (France) and Dominique Bourg (Switzerland) we were repeatedly reminded that all beings on Earth are our relatives and that what we do to anyone of the children of the Earth we do to ourselves. The preamble of the UDRME states that “We are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny.”

It also came through that the crimes against Mother Earth are often wilfully committed because some people and the transnational corporations see nature as capital and Mother Earth as a dead organism. In a proposed case against cruel treatment of animals we saw shocking video of a wounded bull being butchered alive with hundreds of people gleefully watching.

The prosecutors, Ramiro Avila and Linda Sheehan led the witnesses in bringing out deep systemic alternatives to environmental protection and seeking to show that it must be acknowledged that ecosystems have the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate their vital cycles and that these ought to have legal standing in a court of law. The line-up of witnesses helped to ensure that Indigenous Peoples and oppressed communities had the space to share their unique concerns, knowledge and solutions about land, water, air and culture with the global community.

The presentations by experts and victims showed that climate change violates Articles 2 Sub sections a-j of the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth, especially the right to life and to exist; the right to be respected and “the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions.”

Witnesses underscored the fact that although climate change is caused mostly by human activities, it is inaccurate to place that blame and the burden for action on all humans. In his presentation, Pablo Solon stressed that 10% of the richest individuals in the world contribute 49 per cent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 90 companies contribute over 60 per cent of all GHG emissions. The top corporate polluters include Chevron, ExxonMobil (USA), Saudi Aramco (Saudi), BP (UK), Gazprom (Russia) and Royal Dutch Shell (Netherlands).

Evidence were adduced to show that the trio of governments/politicians, transnational corporations and the UNFCCC are complicit in the climate crimes as they work together to ensure that real solutions are avoided, binding commitments to cut emission are set aside in preference for voluntary or intended actions. In addition, the tribunal rejected the claims that destructive actions were taken on the basis of the necessity of development or that when emissions began to happen, and grew, the polluters did not know or anticipate the outcomes, are unacceptable.

The case was established that at play is the logic of capital and power and that the major corporations who have caused the problems are the sponsors of the COPs and have hijacked the system.

The fact that the extreme forms of extraction promoted by humans are crimes against Mother Earth came through very forcefully when the case of hydraulic fracturing or fracking was taken. Fracking was presented as a RAPE of the Earth and is one of the worst threats against the planet. Facts adduced in this case include that it sets stage for disaster each frack uses up to 2-8 million gallons of fresh water and that one well may be fracked up to 18 times. The process involves the use of up to 750 chemicals many of which, including benzene and formaldehyde are toxic. Billions of gallons of “frack fluid” and 60 per cent of chemicals used remain or are stored underground while the remainder are stored in open air pits. The Tribunal received evidence of radioactive wastes, toxic waters being left everywhere fracking takes place: in farms, schools, neighbourhoods as well as offshore. Witnesses and experts also insisted that fracking is guaranteed to pollute ground water. Testimonies of health impacts, deaths, rapes and other social disruptions dropped a pall of grieve over the venue of the meeting.

In the case against the Belo Monte and Tapajas mega dams in Brazil, the Tribunal was informed that 60-70 dams were being planned to be built over the next 20 years. Belo Monte alone will destroy 5000km2 of the forest and related biodiversity. The social impacts were described as ecological and cultural genocide against the indigenous communities.

Speaking forcefully about his lifelong work defending the Amazon forest, Cacique Raoni Kayapo told the Tribunal, “We all need nature to survive and it is fundamental that we protect her. Governments should hear the indigenous people who are in the frontlines of defending nature.” Looking piercingly at the panel of judges and then at the audience he intoned, “My struggle is for you, for all of us and for the future of humanity and for the future of our children.”

Other highlights of the sessions include the presentations that demanded that fossil fuels should be left under the ground in line with the findings of science requiring that this be done if we are to avoid catastrophic temperature rise. Oilwatch International presented the case for the creation of Annex Zero (0) nations, sub-nations and territories that have already taken steps or are in the process of doing so, of keeping fossil fuels under the ground. This was presented as real climate action and points at the pathway to a safe world. Examples were given of sites of such initiatives in all the continents of the world. Another highlight was the case for the recognition of ecocide in international criminal law.

The Tribunal accepted new cases including those that will try crimes against animals, the depletion of marine life, the Rosia Montana Mines in Romania, the extreme damage of the environment of the Niger Delta by the polluting acts of Shell and the crimes tied to the extraction of tar sands in Canada.

These were two days of plain talks and truth. They were days in which the raw injuries inflicted on Mother Earth and her children were laid bare. They were days of pain as well as of joy. Tears flowed freely from all sections of the hall. Indignation did not give birth to paralysis but to a resolve to stand up for Mother Earth.

In spite of the pains, the aches and the cries of Mother Earth that her children displayed, the words of Cases Camp Horinek kept echoing that the days of the Tribunal were indeed good days.

Nnimmo BasseyNnimmo Bassey

Nnimmo Bassey is director of an ecological think-tank, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and Coordinator of Oilwatch International. Bassey has authored books on the environment, architecture and poetry. He was chair of Friends of the Earth International (2008-2012) and Executive Director of Nigeria’s Environmental Rights Action (1993-2013). He was a co-recipient of the 2010 Right Livelihood Award also known as the “Alternative Noble Prize.” In 2012 he received the Rafto Human Rights Award. In 2014 he received Nigeria’s national honour as Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) in recognition of his environmental activism. His book, To Cook a Continent – Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa (Pambazuka Press, 2012) has been translated in Portuguese and Finnish (2014).

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Creating New Norms: The Rights of Nature Tribunalhttp://therightsofnature.org/rights-of-nature-laws/creating-new-norms-rights-of-nature/ Thu, 07 Jan 2016 01:19:56 +0000 http://therightsofnature.org/?p=29094 By Jeremy Lent, Patterns of Meaning, December 9, 2015

Writing from Paris while global leaders converged for the UN FCCC COP 21 and events offering profound alternative solutions, Jeremy Lent shares his perspective on the impact of the The Rights of Nature Tribunal as a turning point for our planet:

This week, here in Paris, we saw what may turn out to be a major milestone in the history of humankind. I’m not talking about COP21, but about a 2-day tribunal which, although having no legal standing or powers of enforcement, may turn out to have an even greater impact on the future direction of our world. It was a Rights of Nature tribunal, and it represents the most recent step in an important and hopeful journey for humanity – the recognition and expansion of intrinsic legal rights.

Rights of Man

Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man” was a revolutionary document in his time.

Some historical context helps. Back in 1792, Thomas Paine, author of The Rights of Man, was tried and convicted in absentia by the British for seditious libel. Paine’s troubles arose from the fact that he was blazing a new trail that has since become the bedrock of modern political thought: the inherent rights of human beings.

Paine’s writing deeply influenced the composers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, one of the most influential documents of modern history. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” it declared, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These truths, while self-evident to the founding fathers, were radical ideas for that time, so much so that even those who signed the Declaration applied them sketchily, not even considering that they might apply equally to the Africans forced to work as slaves in their plantations.

By the middle of the twentieth century, in response to the totalitarian horrors of genocide, the world came together to create a new stirring vision that would apply equally to all human beings: the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For the first time in history, fundamental human rights were universally recognized and given legal protection.

Of course, these rights continue to be abused in all kinds of ways. But new norms had been established, and nowadays, following the formation of the International Criminal Court, when a tyrant wreaks havoc on his population, he knows that he might have to face legal consequences from the rest of the world.

As we enter into the heart of the twenty-first century, a new set of crises face humanity: the ravages of climate change, deforestation, industrial agriculture, the destruction of natural habitats, and the impending Sixth Extinction of species. Like Paine and his associates, a new group of visionaries are expounding a revolutionary concept that responds to our troubled era: the Rights of Nature.

This week in Paris, this group held a 2-day Rights of Nature Tribunal, part of which I had the honor to attend and film. The Tribunal was based on the idea that nature also has rights, just like humans. Its foundational document is a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, calling for the “universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce the rights of nature.”

tribunal-convening-kw

Read complete article at Patterns of Meaning Creating New Norms: The Rights of Nature Tribunal

About the author:

Jeremy Lent is President and founder of the nonprofit Liology Institute which is dedicated to fostering a worldview that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on the earth. Jeremy is author of soon to be published The Patterning Instinct: A History of Humanity’s Future and his novel, Requiem of the Human Soul, published by independent publisher Libros Libertad in 2009.

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