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Archive for Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network

Earth law update – April 14, 2016

From Tom Brenan, Gaia Foundation

Here are some recent Earth law developments:

  • The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) are to hold a two-hour webinar on ‘Rights of Nature: Protecting and Defending the Places We Live’ on 27th The training will explore the concept and use of Rights of Nature as a means of ushering in a legal, social, political and economic framework based on the laws of the Earth.
  • The Earth Law Center and partners in the Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance will be holding a Rights of Nature Tribunal in Antioch, California on 30th The Tribunal will be modelled on the successful International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature held in Paris in December 2015 during COP21 and will address violations of the San Francisco Bay Delta Area’s right to exist, thrive and evolve in light of diversions of the necessary flows from the Delta. It will also consider violations of the rights of Delta communities to self-governance for healthy water solutions.
  • The Australian Earth Laws Alliance will be holding a Rights of Nature Tribunal in Brisbane on 22nd October, following its two-day conference. The Tribunal will hear cases concerning the destruction of ecosystems and the wider Earth community in Australia and will make recommendations for law reform and restorative action.
  • Not really Earth law as such, but interesting nonetheless – the Royal Canadian Mint has issued a new Mother Earth and Water coin highlighting that we are all dependent on Mother Earth and the water she provides.

Recognizing the Rights of Nature and the Living Forest

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.

UN Press Conference International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Prominent International Rights of Nature Tribunal Offers Earth-Driven, Not Market-Driven, Solutions to Climate Change

UN Press International Rights of Nature Press Conference

http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/events/2015-12-09-11-30-ithaca-college

In an extraordinary display of global solidarity, vision and determination, communities and organizations from all over the world took the initiative this past weekend to formally establish the Third International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature. People flocked to the Maison des Métallos in Paris to listen to more than 65 people from 32 nationalities[1] speaking in 7 languages[2] who participated as judges, Earth Defenders, or witnesses during the two days of Tribunal hearings. More than 600 people attended the hearings on each of the two days and hundreds more had to be turned away due to lack of space. Eight prominent cases demonstrated that human rights, indigenous rights and earth rights are inseparable and the recognizing rights of nature provides a viable path forward in creating the future we want.

The participants of the Tribunal showed the strong, united leadership so lacking at COP 21 by signing the People’s Convention that formally established the Tribunal and opened the way to the creation of Regional Tribunals throughout the world. The Tribunal bases its judgements primarily on the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth and international human rights law, but also recognized ecocide as a crime. The judgements provide clear direction in each case on who is accountable and on what must be done to repair the harm and restore Earth (and communities) to health and well-being. While governments participating in the COP 21 are locked in tortuous negotiations over the wording of an agreement that will worsen the destruction of Mother Earth, the people of the world demonstrated in this way what genuine global collaboration and solidarity can achieve.

Compelling cases heard during the Tribunal include:

  • False Solutions related to Climate Change
  • Commercialization of Nature and REDD+
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Defenders of Mother Earth
  • Hydraulic fracturing “fracking”
  • Megadams in Brazil
  • Oil in the Amazon: Yasuni-ITT and Texaco Chevron as Ecocide Cases

In addition, 5 new cases were accepted for subsequent Tribunal hearings.

Tribunal members and case experts presenting to members of the press include:

  • Osprey Orielle Lake, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, USA
  • Pablo Solon, Fundacion Solon, Bolivia
  • Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Turtle Island, USA

The distinguished judges constituted the International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Paris: President – Cormac Cullinan (Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, and author of Wild Law- South Africa); Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network, Turtle Island – USA);
Alberto Acosta (Economist and former president of the Constitutional Assembly – Ecuador); Osprey Orielle Lake (Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network – USA); Terisa Turner (International Oil Working Group, Friends of the Earth – Canada, professor – Canada and USA); Felicio Pontes (Federal Prosecutor – Brazil)
Damien Short (Director Human Rights Consortium, University of London – UK); Attosa Soltani (Amazon Watch founder – USA);
Nnimmo Bassey (Health of Mother Earth Foundation / Oilwatch – Nigeria);
Ruth Nyambura (African Biodiversity Network – Kenya); Christophe Bonneuil (Historian of Sciences, CNRS, Attac – France);
Philippe Desbrosses (Doctor in Environmental Sciences, Farmer, Intelligence Verte – France); – Honorary Judge on December 4th Dominique Bourg (philosopher and author, University of Lausanne, Switzerland).

Ramiro Avila, environmental attorney form Ecuador, and Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of Earth Law Center, served as Co-Prosecutors for the Earth.

 

Hosted by: The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, www.TheRightsofNature.org

CONTACT:

Osprey Orielle Lake, osprey@wecaninternational.org

Natalia Greene +593 (0) 99944-3724/nati.greene@gmail.com

 

[1] Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belorussia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France Germany, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Slovakia South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, USA, Venezuela.

[2] French, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Kichwa, Sapara, Rikbakstsá,

Tribunal Offers Earth-Driven, Not Market-Driven, Solutions to Climate Change

PRESS RELEASE 
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
Contact: Nature@theRightsofNature.org
Click for printable Paris Tribunal Press Release

International Rights of Nature Tribunal
Hears Cases for Mother Earth in Paris

Tribunal Offers Earth-Driven, Not Market-Driven, Solutions to Climate Change

Rights of Nature Tribunal photo by: Ken Wentworth for Greening Edenphoto by: Ken Wentworth for Greening Eden

“As we heard this morning, we will not bargain for the destruction of Mother Earth. We must insist on laws that recognize the inherent rights of nature. Any laws or conventions that aim for less must be rejected.” Linda Sheehan

Introduction

In an extraordinary display of global solidarity, vision and determination, communities and organizations from all over the world took the initiative this past weekend to formally establish the Third International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature. People flocked to the Maison des Métallos in Paris to listen to more than 65 people from 32 nationalities[1] speaking in 7 languages[2] who participated as judges, Earth Defenders, or witnesses during the two days of Tribunal hearings. More than 600 people attended the hearings on each of the two days and hundreds more had to be turned away due to lack of space.

International Rights of Nature Convening CeremonyIndigenous peoples from around the world played a leading role throughout the Tribunal as judges, experts and witnesses. One of the highlights was the signing by the legendary Chief Raoni of the Kayapo people of the Brazilian Amazon of the People’s Convention that formally established the Tribunal. The judges of the Tribunal were honored to reciprocate by signing documents confirming their support for the Alliance of Earth’s Guardians established by Chief Raoni and his delegation.

The participants of the Tribunal showed the strong, united leadership so lacking at COP 21 by signing the People’s Convention that formally established the Tribunal which opened the way to the creation of Regional Tribunals throughout the world. The Tribunal bases its judgements primarily on the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth and international human rights law, but also recognized ecocide as a crime. The judgements provide clear direction in each case on who is accountable and on what must be done to repair the harm and restore Earth (and communities) to health and well-being. While governments participating in the COP 21 are locked in tortuous negotiations over the wording of an agreement that will worsen the destruction of Mother Earth, the people of the world in this way demonstrated what genuine global collaboration and solidarity can achieve.

The panel of Judges

The following distinguished judges constituted the International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Paris: President – Cormac Cullinan (Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, and author of Wild Law- South Africa); Tom BK Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network, Turtle Island – USA);
 Alberto Acosta (Economist and former president of the Constitutional Assembly – Ecuador); Osprey Orielle Lake (Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network – USA); Terisa Turner (International Oil Working Group, Friends of the Earth – Canada, professor – Canada and USA); Felicio Pontes (Federal Prosecutor – Brazil)
; Damien Short (Director Human Rights Consortium, University of London – UK); Atossa Soltani (Amazon Watch founder – USA);
 Nnimmo Bassey (Health of Mother Earth Foundation / Oilwatch – Nigeria);
 Ruth Nyambura (African Ecofeminists Collective – Kenya);
 Christophe Bonneuil (Historian of Sciences, CNRS, Attac – France);
 Philippe Desbrosses (Doctor in Environmental Sciences, Farmer, Intelligence Verte – France); – Honorary Judge on December 4th Dominique Bourg (philosopher and author, University of Lausanne, Switzerland).

Co-Prosecutors Linda Sheehan, Earth Law Center, USA and Ramiro Avila, Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar, (Ecuador) represented Mother Earth. Natalia Greene, Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (Ecuador) served as Secretariat.

Listening to Nature

The proposed solutions to climate change being presented at COP 21 are abstract, theoretical, market-driven, not Earth-driven, and motivated by self-interest. The approach at the hearings of the Tribunal couldn’t have been more different. Its findings were based scientific and other expert testimony, from the first-hand experiences of witnesses.  Decisions drew on scientific knowledge and the cosmovision, worldview and wisdom of indigenous peoples and local communities. The focus was on listening to Nature and was based on the recognition that Nature’s laws cannot be broken – an understanding that appears to be absent from COP 21.

The Tribunal opened and closed with deeply moving evocations of Mother Earth by indigenous peoples. They also presented testimonies that drew the Tribunal’s attention to dimensions ignored in the COP 21 negotiations, including the denial of the sacredness of the Earth, which must be considered along with its physical properties. Central to these dimensions was how patriarchal, dominating mind-sets and world views deny the sacred, and as a consequence, cause the creative feminine principle of Mother Earth to be attacked, resulting in the disruption of vital balances.

Nature is alive, she has the right to exist, to maintain natural cycles, to flourish and to constantly regenerate life. However most legal, economic and political systems treat Nature as an object which cannot have rights – as a slave to be used and exploited. Reverence for Nature is replaced with utilitarian and perverse views of Nature that seek to commodify and commercialize vital natural processes. This results in the climate crisis we and the Earth face today.

Findings of the Tribunal

The Tribunal’s findings are clear and strong – specific in who must be held accountable and why, and in the practical measures that need to be taken to solve the challenges faced by humanity. The Tribunal recognized that solutions do exist – communities and indigenous peoples have been applying these solutions and have been putting their bodies on the line to protect Earth for hundreds of years. We are living in an unequal world and the solutions need to be equitable.

“So the first point is inescapable.  This is a systemic issue and the responses must be systemic.

Secondly, if anyone came here with any doubts about whether or not human rights and the rights of nature are compatible, I think that they must have been dispelled. Everybody has demonstrated that they are inseparable. As Chief Seattle is reported to have said so long ago: ‘What befalls the Earth, befalls the children of the Earth.’”

Secondly, if anyone came here with any doubts about whether or not human rights and the rights of nature are compatible, I think that they must have been dispelled.  Everybody has demonstrated that they are inseparable.  As Chief Seattle is reported to have said so long ago: ‘What befalls the Earth, befalls the children of the Earth.’” Cormac Cullinan

The evidence presented at the Tribunal established beyond any doubt that human rights and the rights of Nature are inseparable, and that both are being systematically violated by systems based on arrogant delusions arising from the misconception that humans have the right and ability to dominate and exploit Earth. Evidence presented at the Tribunal also showed how indigenous understandings and knowledge complement scientific knowledge. It also demonstrated the extraordinary creative energies that are released when diverse peoples unite, inspired by a shared love of Earth, to find the solutions that humanity so desperately needs, especially at this moment in time.

Cases the Tribunal heard in Paris

Climate change

Former Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Solón led the presentation of the Climate Change case. The evidence showed why geo-engineering, nuclear energy, industrial and “climate smart” agriculture, biofuels, and the accelerated exploitation of fossil fuels are false solutions devised for corporate profit that will increase the damage to Earth. The Tribunal found that the rights of Nature are being systemically violated by climate change, mainly as a consequence of the acts and inaction of governments and international organizations (including the United Nations), the legal, economic and political systems that they have established, and the activities of a relatively few companies. The Tribunal closed the case and a written judgement will follow.

Commercialization of Nature

The case of financialization of Nature, presented by Ivonne Yanez was expanded from the previous Tribunals that before dealt only with REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). The Tribunal took note of the evidence that many more instances of the commodification and commercialization of Nature are emerging. These include biodiversity offsets, carbon offsets, (so-called) clean development mechanisms, and (so-called) smart agriculture. The Tribunal decided to keep the case open so that more evidence can be collected and presented – particularly with regard to the identity of the perpetrators.

Genetically modified organisms

Dr. Vandana Shiva led the presentation of this case which deals with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the agro-food industry. The Tribunal heard expert evidence from Ronnie Cummins, Marie Monique Robin, Andre Leu and José Bové; all of whom exposed the damage that GMOs and associated pesticides are doing to consumers, to animals and to soil. The Tribunal decided to keep the case open to hear additional evidence especially through regional Tribunals including in Asia.

Defenders of Mother Earth

Two cases of Defenders of Mother Earth were heard in the Tribunal: (1) the criminalization of Defenders in Ecuador and (2) the persecution of Defenders who protest against the pollution in Houston, Texas arising from fossil fuels and chemical contamination. The judges ratified the principle that the Tribunal would defend the Defenders of Mother Earth and hear further cases where necessary. It condemned the Government of Ecuador’s criminalization of Defenders of Mother Earth in that country, and demanded the restitution of human rights, liberty and the re-opening of closed institutions in Ecuador. The Tribunal closed the Ecuador case but kept the Texas case open in order to gather new evidence.

Fracking

The Tribunal had already conducted hearings about global fracking at its previous sessions in Quito and Lima. The Tribunal heard evidence from witnesses about the damage that fracking is causing in Argentina. Witnesses testified about how in the USA fracking is “breaking the bones of Mother Earth”, causing earthquakes and widespread suffering of the people who inhabit lands that are being sacrificed to “unconventional oil extraction”. The Tribunal confirmed that fracking results in a range of serious violations of the rights of Nature. After hearing the new evidence presented in Paris, the judges decide to close this case but recognized this is an ongoing threat that should continue to be examined by regional tribunals.

Mega dams in Brazil

Gert Peter Bruch and Christian Poirier presented the case of mega dams in Brazil, with the powerful testimonies of Antonia Melo, María Lucia Munduruku and Chief Raoni. The Tribunal condemned the building of Belo Monte and Tapajos mega dams and the planned construction of many more, which will cause horrific destruction of the Amazon and its inhabitants. It decided to leave the case open to hear additional evidence in a regional Tribunal in Brazil.

New cases accepted for hearing at subsequent sittings of the Tribunal

A number of new cases were presented to the Tribunal as probable violations of the Rights of Nature which justified being heard by the Tribunal in the future. The Tribunal accepted them all for further consideration and gave directions about how the cases should be developed.

The Corralejas case concerns the cruel killing of bulls in Colombia. The Tribunal found that there was clear evidence of torture and cruelty to animals in violation of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and asked that the case be widened to include other violation of animal rights for initial consideration by a regional Tribunal. The case of the community of Rosia Montana in Romania which has been threatened by proposed gold mining was accepted with the direction that it be widened to consider other examples of destructive mining practices. The depletion of marine life was accepted with the request that more specific information be presented about the identity of the main perpetrators. The Shell case in Nigeria was accepted and the violence in the area was condemned with the recommendation that consideration be giving to establishing a regional tribunal to conduct hearings. Finally, the case on the oil sands in Canada was accepted and the Tribunal observed that there was evidence that this may be one of the most dangerous instances of ecocide on the planet.

Ecocide cases

The Tribunal also re-considered two cases that it had previously heard. The objective of the reconsideration was to determine whether in addition to being violations of the Declaration, there was also evidence that the two cases were examples of the international crime of ecocide. (Severe violations of the Rights of Nature may also qualify as ecocides, because they constitute crimes against humans and the planet.)

The Tribunal re-examined the Yasuní case (which involves proposed oil exploitation in a national park in the Ecuadorian Amazon) and Chevron case (which involves responsibility for rectifying huge damage to the Amazon caused by Texaco/ Chevron) from the perspective of ecocide. The Tribunal found that the Chevron case was one of the worst instances of ecocide perpetrated on the Amazon and that restorative justice should be applied. In preparing the written judgment, consideration would be given to whether or not Chevron itself should be liquidated and its assets used to restore the damage. It noted that individuals, such as the directors of Chevron and corrupt government officials, could also be criminally liable in their personal capacity for ecocides.

Regarding Yasuní, the Tribunal decided that it would be appropriate to issue a directive prohibiting future exploitation of the Yasuni oil as a measure to prevent ecocide.

General findings and comments

The International Rights of Nature Tribunal recommends that the Rome Statute be amended to enable perpetrators of the crime of ecocide to be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court (ICC),

The Tribunal strongly supported keeping fossil fuels in the ground (keep the oil in the soil, the coal in the hole, the gas under the grass and the tar sands in the land) as an essential approach to prevent further harm to Nature.

In regards to Ecuadorian President Correa’s call for the establishment of an Environmental Justice Tribunal, this Tribunal made the point that the people of the world had already done so by establishing the existing International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature. It called on governments to provide support for Peoples’ Tribunals. It called on President Correa to publicly support and help implement the judgements of the Tribunal concerning cases in Ecuador (Yasuni, Chevron and the criminalization of Defenders of Mother Earth).

The Tribunal commended the pursuit of the Rights of Nature cases that have been won in Ecuador and the use of local ordinances and other documents that recognize the rights of Nature in the USA, as effective means of stopping destruction such as fracking, and recommended that these approaches be considered elsewhere in the world.

The Tribunal noted that the only mention in the official COP21 texts of the integrity of ecosystems, Mother Earth and indigenous peoples (paragraph 10) was in danger of being eliminated. The Tribunal strongly condemned this shocking failure to address the real drivers of climate change. It highlighted the fact that the magnificent testimonies presented to the Tribunal proved beyond doubt that the rights of Mother Earth are being systematically violated.

The Tribunal condemned the violence, produced by terrorism and exacerbated by climate change. We need to make peace with Mother Earth to achieve peace among peoples.

Next steps

Judgments will be written and published for all closed cases, as was done and presented in Paris for the Great Barrier Reef and the Yasuní Case. The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature will be a hub for accepting the submission of new cases and for providing guidelines, documents, assistance and intellectual support and training to expand the initiative to recognize the Rights of Nature worldwide.

The Tribunal calls on all communities and organizations that share its vision:

  • to become parties to the Peoples’ Convention on establishing the International Rights of Nature Tribunal;
  • to establish more regional tribunals under the umbrella of the International Tribunal; and
  • to take creative action to support the implementation of its judgements.

The Paris Tribunal was hosted by the Global Alliance of the Rights of Nature in partnership with End Ecocide on Earth, NatureRights & Attac France.

[1] Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belorussia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France Germany, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Slovakia South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, USA, Venezuela.

[2] French, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Kichwa, Sapara, Rikbakstsá,

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Reconnecting with Mother Earth IS a solution

Osprey Orielle Lake closed a very moving Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network Press Conference on the impact of  Women on the Frontline of Climate Change around the world at the UN FCCC.  Each of these women speak movingly of the personal dramatic impact of modern society’s lust for fossil fuels, an economy driven by unbridled growth at any cost and the blatant disregard for human rights ~ especially Indigenous rights, earth rights and the dignity of all.

WE CAN international at UNFCCC

Women raising their voices are Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca – USA; IEN), Patricia Gualinga (Sarayaku, Ecuador) with Leila Salazar-Lopez (AmazonWatch) translating, Neema Namadamu (DRC Congo) and Kandi Mossett (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara – USA; IEN).

View the 30 minute UNFCCC Press Conference at http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/events/2015-12-08-18-30-women-s-earth-and-climate-caucus-wecc

WE CAN International released its downloadable 2016 Women’s Climate Action Agenda.

Giving Mother Earth a Voice in Paris

NEWS RELEASE  November 27, 2015     Click for Press Release PDF
CONTACT: Natalia Greene, Secretariat  nati.greene@gmail.com

Giving Mother Earth a Voice in Paris

International Tribunal on Rights of Nature
Convenes during COP21
December 4-5, 2015 – Maison des Métallos

Paris, France – Key environmental justice issues from around the world will have their day in court when the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature convenes in Paris on December 4-5, 2015, against the backdrop of UNFCCC talks that must move beyond past failures and false solutions to avert global catastrophe.

The high profile international “Peoples Tribunal” – convened by leaders in Earth law and planetary justice from around the world – posits a new legal framework, drawing on the wisdom and cosmovision of indigenous people, aimed at achieving true systems change by recognizing the rights of ecosystems “to exist, persist, and regenerate their vital natural cycles.”

Under current law, nature is treated as private property to be destroyed for profit. It is a legal framework that is proving deadly to people and planet, requiring a transformation of our international and domestic legal systems toward a jurisprudence that recognizes rights of nature. The shift to this new legal framework is underway – Ecuador and Bolivia recognize rights of nature in their constitutions and more than two dozen municipalities in the United States have adopted rights of nature ordinances, including the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (pop. 305,000).

A 13-member panel of judges will preside over the two-day Tribunal, hearing seven cases:

CLIMATE CRIMES AGAINST NATURE (December 4 at 9:40)

Former UN Bolivian Ambassador Pablo Solón, Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians, and Maxime Combes of Attac France, will highlight false climate solutions that fail to address root problems – such as water privatization, “climate-smart agriculture,” REDD+, and other schemes – introducing expert witnesses and victims of climate crimes from Belarus, Canada, Ecuador, France, Mexico, Slovakia, and the Philippines.

FINANCIALIZATION OF NATURE (December 4 at 13:45)

Ivonne Yanez of Acción Ecológica will present three cases highlighting the crime of treating nature as a commodity, introducing expert witnesses from Brazil, Ecuador, and Kenya.

AGRO-FOOD INDUSTRY AND GMOS (December 4 at 15:00)

Indian ecologist and physicist Vandana Shiva of Navdanya and Ronnie Cummins of Organic Consumers will present the case against the global proliferation of GMOs and forms of industrial agriculture that destroy the soil, increase greenhouse gas emissions, pollute water, and reduce biodiversity, calling on expert witnesses from France, Mexico, and the United States.

DEFENDERS OF MOTHER EARTH (December 4 at 16:30)

Indigenous leaders, mining victims, and others who defend nature present the case of the growing risk of violence, including murder, faced by defenders of Mother Earth in South America but also in Europe and other parts of the world. A tragic example: Only days prior to testifying before the 2014 Tribunal in Lima, Peru, on Ecuador’s Mirador mine, José Isidro Tendetza Antun was killed.

FRACKING (December 5 at 9:15)

Shannon Biggs of Movement Rights, USA, and Geert De Cock of Food & Water Watch, Belgium, will present the case against hydraulic fracking, an extreme and devastating form of energy production, drawing on expert witnesses from France and the United States showing how communities have been effective in using rights of nature laws to ban fracking.

MEGA DAMS IN AMAZON (December 5 at 10:30)

Gert-Peter Bruch of Planete Amazone presents the case against building mega dams in the Amazon, with indigenous leaders as expert witnesses testifying to the displacement of tens of thousands and the destruction of the Amazon threatened by the proposed massive diversion of rivers.

CHEVRON AND YASUNÍ (December 5 at 14:15)

Carlos Larrea and Pablo Fajardo, Ecuadorean lawyers who litigated the case in Ecuador against Chevron, argue against the proposed oil exploitation of the Amazon’s pristine Yasuní National Park. Calling on the testimony of indigenous leaders, they also demonstrate the impact of decades of pollution from oil drilling by Chevron and argue for addressing such harms as ecocide under the terms Valérie Cabanes of End Ecocide on Earth explains just prior to their presentation, making the case for recognizing ecocide under international criminal law.

The Earth Defenders prosecuting the cases at the Tribunal are Ramiro Ávila, law professor, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar (Ecuador), and Linda Sheehan, Director, Earth Law Center (US).

The distinguished panel of Tribunal judges, headed by South African attorney Cormac Cullinan, author of WildLaw: A Manifesto for Earth Justice, includes: Alberto Acosta, former President of the Constitutional Assembly (Ecuador); Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (Nigeria); Christophe Bonneuil, science historian (France); Dominique Bourg, professor of geosciences (Switzerland); Philippe Desbrosses, author, environmental sciences expert, organic farmer (France); Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network (US, Dine’ and Dakota); Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (US); Ruth Nyambura, African Biodiversity Network (Kenya); Felício Pontes, Federal Prosecutor (Brazil); Damien Short, Director of the Human Rights Consortium (UK); Atossa Soltani, Amazon Watch founder (US); and Terisa Turner, professor of anthropology, former UN Energy Specialist (Canada).

The judges will render decisions calling for reparation, mitigation, restoration, and prevention of further damages and harm. Although its decisions do not presently carry the force of law, the Tribunal provides the world with a model for adjudicating cases under a legal framework that recognizes the rights of nature, offering a real and present solution to the root problem behind climate change and other human-induced ecological disasters.

The Paris Tribunal marks the third time the International Tribunal for Rights of Nature has convened. Sponsored by the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, the inaugural Tribunal was held in Quito, Ecuador, in January 2013, followed by a session in Lima, Peru, in December 2014. Natalia Greene (Ecuador), Tribunal Secretariat, Cormac Cullinan (South Africa), Tribunal President, and Samanta Novella (France) of NatureRights, will introduce the proceedings.

The Tribunal will convene from 9:00 – 13:00 and 14:00 – 18:00 on Friday and Saturday, December 4 and 5, at the Maison des Métallos in the 11th arrondissement at 94, Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud. Registration required: http://therightsofnature.org/rights-of-nature-tribunal-paris/.

Paris Tribunal Registration Now Open

The International Rights of Nature Tribunal will meet at Maison des Métallos in Paris on 4th and 5th of December, in conjunction with UN Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC COP21. The Tribunal is a unique, citizen-created initiative.Logo-RoNtribunal-fr It gives people from all around the world the opportunity to testify publicly as to the destruction of the Earth — destruction that governments and corporations not only allow, but in some cases encourage.

Space is limited. If you are planning to attend the third International Rights of Nature Tribunal register now for the segments you will attend.

Register for International Rights of Nature TribunalFor more details visit Paris Tribunal …

Date and Time

  • Friday 4 – Saturday 5 December 2015
  • 9:00am – 6:30pm each day (including an intermission)

Tribunal Venue in Paris

MaisondesMetallos-logo

la maison des métallosMaison des Métallos
94 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris, France

Esteemed Judges:

  • Cormac Cullinan, President; Author WildLaw: A Manifesto for Earth Justice (South Africa)
  • Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network (Turtle Island, USA)
  • Alberto Acosta, former President Ecuador Constitutional Assembly
  • Osprey Orielle Lake, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (USA)
  • Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (Nigeria)
  • Ruth Nyambura, African Biodiversity Network (Kenya)
  • Damien Short, University of London (United Kingdom)
  • Felício Pontes, Federal Prosecutor (Brazil)
  • Terisa Turner, professor Sociology and Anthropology, former UN Energy Specialist (Canada)
  • Atossa Soltani, Amazon Watch (USA)
  • Philippe Desbroses, Honarary, farmer, scientist, writer (France)
  • Dominique Bourg, Professor Geosciences, University of Lausanne (Switzerland)

Among the Expert Witnesses and Case Presenters :

  • Pablo Solon, Fundacion Solon
  • Geneviève Azam, Attac France
  • Vandana Shiva, Navdanya
  • Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians
  • Shannon Biggs, Movement Rights
  • Casey Camp Horinek, Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Esperanza Martinez, Acción Ecologica
  • Patricia Gualinga, Kichwa of Sarayaku, Ecuador
  • Carlos Lareas, Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar
  • Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Tantoo Cardinal, Actress, Activist, Tar Sands, Canada
  • Valerie Cabanes, End Ecocide on Earth

Prosecutors for the Earth:

  • Ramiro Avila, Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar
  • Linda Sheehan, Earth Law Center

International Rights of Nature Tribunal Paris Secretariat:

  • Natalia Greene, Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
  • Grant Wilson, Earth Law Center

Re-Visioning Our Relationship with the Earth: Lessons from ‘Rights of Nature and Systemic Change in Climate Solutions’

Deeply aware of the crisis of socio-ecologic injustice created by a dominant system that values growth and profit above all else, an extraordinary group of panelist gathered to speak out at ‘Rights of Nature and Systemic Change in Climate Solutions’ in New York City on September 22, 2014. The event, presented by WECAN International and the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature as part of the mobilization surrounding the People’s Climate March and U.N. Climate Summit, focused on the need to redesign our social, political, economic and legal structures to function with respect to the rights of the Earth and the knowledge systems of the original stewards of the land, the worlds indigenous peoples.

Osprey Orielle Lake opening Rights of Nature NY “If our environmental law system was working we would not be in this crisis,” explained Executive Director of WECAN International, Osprey Orielle Lake, in her opening statement. “Our current laws do not stop pollution, they ‘regulate’ it and allow it to continue. We must disrupt this broken framework.”

Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network), Shannon Biggs (Global Exchange), Gloria Ushigua (Association of Sapara Women, Ecuador), Linda Sheehan (Earth Law Center), and Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca Nation, Indigenous Environmental Network) joined Lake to expose fundamental flaws in our current laws and management schemes, while presenting bold strategies for re-visioning these paradigms. The issue could not be more critical, speakers explained, as a shift to a system that treats the Earth as a rights bearing entity is a requirement for any genuine solutions to the climate crisis.

Rights of Nature Panel NY Church Center

Tom Goldtooth NYTom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network took the floor first, focusing on the need to learn from and re-allign with indigenous knowledge systems which conceive of the Earth as a vibrant, living Mother who must be cared for and respected. Tom explained how many climate action plans currently being considered, such as REDD carbon projects and biotechnology schemes, continue to violate the laws of nature and rights of the Earth in attempts to divide, conquer, and profit, ultimately making them false and highly destructive proposals. He emphasized that communities across the globe must reject twisted climate policies which continue to commodify and manipulate, instead coming back to “our true nature of working in harmony with Mother Earth.

Linda Sheehan Earth Law CenterLinda Sheehan of the Earth Law Center spoke next, reaffirming and expanding up Tom Goldtooths sentiment that our plans of action, movements, and policies must function with respect to the Rights of Nature.

According to Linda, our current legal structure overwhelmingly views the Earth as an entity to be traded, exploited, and degraded, leading to the continued failure of environmental law and policy. “We think we can chop up nature, we can control it. This is simply a misunderstanding,” she explained.

Working to challenge this flawed vision, Linda and allies at the Earth Law Center have been working with groups across the U.S. to create and instate new laws that put the rights of the Earth and communities above those of corporations, including notable successes in Santa Monica, California this year.

Gloria Ushigua - Sapara NYFrom the frontlines of the fight to end fossil fuel development in the Amazon Basin, Gloria Ushigua of the Association of Sapara Women, Ecuador shared her story next.

“We are here to defend our rights, our spirits, our forests,” Gloria explained, highlighting the ways that indigenous communities across the world, embedded firmly in a tradition that sees the Earth as a flourishing and living being, are already challenging conventional models and leading the way towards climate solutions

Gloria’s words however, also functioned to shake up the conversation as she explained how, despite the fact that the law in Ecuador officially gives rights to Nature, massive corporate and political violations continue. Thus, she implored, changing our legal framework much be but the first step, to be followed up with ceaseless civil society action to insure that those rights are respected on every level.

Shannon Biggs, Global Exchange  - NY Climate Summit on Rights of NatureShannon Biggs of the Global Exchange spoke next, expanding upon Gloria’s declaration that systemic change in climate solutions and our relationship with the Earth must come not only at the policy level, but at the level of communities and individuals across the globe.

“It all comes down to community, it is up to out communities to be stewards of the land,” Shannon explained, “we must challenge unjust law that says nature is property.”

Shannon continued on to detail the concrete ways that the Global Exchange and its partners are working to expand local ability to implement and enforce the Rights of Nature, focusing on community applications of these principles as tools for climate resiliency and the protection of the Earth.

Casey Camp Horinek-NYCasey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Nation and Indigenous Environmental Network took the floor as the final presenter of the day. Her speech was one of hope, explaining to the audience that while the task of uprooting and re-visioning the dominant system seem daunting, this is only so when constrained under the false impression that politicians and economists are the center of ultimate power.

“If the sun did not rise today, would you be here? If you did not have a drink of water, would you be here today? THAT is the true power,” Casey explained, the audience erupting in applause.

Following the series of presentations, audience members and speakers engaged in a question and answer session that kept many enthralled in discussion for more than an hour after the official end of the event. Expanding upon earlier discussion surrounding mal-alligned climate policy that seeks to control and subdue nature, Linda Sheehan poignantly remarked, “they call it ecosystem management as is the earth has been unruly. No. We need to regulate ourselves.”

Notebook full of inspiring quotes, bitts of wisdom, strategies, ideas and tools, I set out after the event, eager to return home and start building alliances and making plans to enact the Rights of Nature in my community.

For more information about the Rights of Nature movement, check out: therightsofnature.org/ and wecaninternational.org/pages/rights-of-nature-international-advocacy-trainings

Also follow the Women Speak: Climate Justice and Solutions blog.

Submitted by and photos by Emily Arasim, WECAN International Special Projects & Communications Coordinator