COP21: call for international treaty on rights of nature and communities

By Hal Rhoades, 8th December 2015, The Ecologist

Portrait of Shuar Indian in Ecuador's Amazon, where gross violations of human and environmental rights have been committed by oil companies. Photo: 00rini hartman via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).A new initiative launched alongside COP21 in Paris this week is aiming to “Adopt and implement an international treaty to prevent and enforce against corporate human rights violations” and “Incorporate rights of nature principles into existing human rights instruments and bodies.”

The manifesto to end ‘co-violations’ of nature’s rights and human rights is set out in a report that examines 100 such examples worldwide, from the Arctic home of the Sami to Shuar territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of the Earth Law Center (ELC) described how these individual co-violations reflect a global pattern of violence that is a result of “treating the natural world as property to fuel economic growth, and the myth that this can be infinite.

“Across the globe, corporations and governments injure both people and ecosystems … These injuries increasingly represent simultaneous violations, or ‘co-violations’, of human rights and nature’s rights. Every year hundreds of people are killed defending their lands from destructive projects, and as a result of their pollution and destruction.

“We must reverse the path we’re on towards more and more of these co-violations by evolving our laws and courts to recognize that our well-being is inextricably linked with the Earth’s”, said Sheehan.

The article goes on to describe impassioned testimony of esteemed authorities from around the world at International Rights of Nature Tribunal. Witnesses included Vandana Shiva, Chief Raoni Metuktire and Pablo Solon and others who shared examples of how corporations, states and international bodies like the World Bank are violating nature’s rights.

For complete article visit: COP21: call for international treaty on rights of nature and communities


Hal Rhoades is Communications and Advocacy Officer at The Gaia Foundation which is actively working to advance Earth Jurisprudence and the recognition of the Rights of Nature around the world. He is also a regular contributor to Intercontinental Cry.

The report: Fighting for Our Shared Future is available in full via Earth Law Center’s website. For more information about the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature, visit the Global Alliance of the Rights of Nature.