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Archive for Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network

International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Bonn Findings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : 10 November 2017
Media Contact:
Robert Wager (media contact) robert@endecocide.eu + 49 160 8104348
Cabot Davis (general inquiries) cabot@movementrights.org + 1 (831) 854-7634
Natalia Greene (Tribunal’s Secretariat) nati.greene@gmail.com + 593 9944-3724

Press release Bonn Tribunal (final)-ES (Print Spanish)

Press release Bonn Tribunal (final) (Print English)

BONN, Germany – The 4th session of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal, held concurrently with the 23rd United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP23), exposed the significant role which legal systems play in enabling climate change and global environmental degradation. The Tribunal heard seven cases from around the world which collectively demonstrated that global and national climate change commitments cannot be met without fundamental changes to the legal systems which legalise the activities that cause climate change and the destruction of the ecological systems on which life depends. This is a global problem – one of the cases concerned a massive lignite mine approximately 50 kms from the COP 23 negotiations.

The Bonn Tribunal consisted of 9 judges from 7 countries, and was presided over by the prominent indigenous climate and environmental justice leader, Tom Mato Awanyankapi Goldtooth. Over the course of two days, 53 people from 19 countries speaking over 7 languages presented cases regarding violations of the rights of Nature. A range of experts who testified before the Tribunal explained that whatever is agreed at the COP 23 and subsequent meetings, action to combat climate change will be ineffective while governments continue to authorise coal mines, oil wells and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), and the mining of groundwater, and allow corporations to use investor state dispute settlement mechanisms in trade agreements to prevent the taking of effective measures to protect life.

Witnesses gave first-hand accounts of what it is like to live near fracking operations, oil wells and refineries, and coal mines, about how those who defend Mother Earth are persecuted, attacked, criminalised and have their homes burnt. It heard of the anguish of indigenous and other peoples from local communities who live in intimacy with Nature as it is destroyed by roads, mines or industrial agriculture in order to benefit a small elite.

Indigenous peoples from around the world played a prominent role throughout the Tribunal as experts and witnesses. The Tribunal opened with deeply moving ceremonies and evocations of Mother Earth by representatives of the Sámi people of Europe, the Sarayaku community in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and the indigenous peoples of North America. Indigenous peoples from Africa, Russia, Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guyana, and the USA/Turtle Island presented testimonies that drew the Tribunal’s attention to the sacredness of Earth – a dimensions ignored in the COP 23 negotiations.

The Tribunal found that in each of the seven cases, serious and systematic violations of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (UDRME) had occurred, often accompanied by human rights violations, and in several cases the harm was so severe as to constitute ecocide. In each case the legal system did not provide adequate remedies to prevent on-going harm. In most cases the harm was caused by activities such as deforestation and mining which could only take place because they had been authorised by law. It was abundantly clear those legal systems that elevate property rights and the rights of corporation above the rights of water, air and ecosystems to exist and contribute to the ecological health of the planet, are exacerbating climate change by clothing destructive activities in a cloak of legal legitimacy. The Tribunal noted that carbon, biological and conservation offsets and ecosystem services are financialisation processes that enable Nature to be privatised, commodified and traded in financial market systems. Carbon market are false solutions that do not cut emissions at source.

The Tribunal and panel of Judges

The Tribunal considers cases from the perspective of what is in the best interests of the Earth community as a whole, and hears cases involving alleged violations of the UDRME and international human rights law. The Tribunal was established in 2014 by the members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and was formally constituted in 2015 in Paris when a wide range of civil society organizations and indigenous communities signed a Peoples’ Convention to establish the Tribunal. Cases are heard by a panel of eminent legal and environmental experts from around the world. The Bonn panel consisted of 9 distinguished judges from 7 countries: President – Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network, Turtle Island – USA); Osprey Orielle Lake (Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network – USA); Alberto Acosta (former president of the Constitutional Assembly – Ecuador); Fernando “Pino” Solanas (senator, Argentina), Ute Koczy (Urgewald E.V., former Parliamentarian, Germany); Cormac Cullinan (Wild Institute Law- South Africa); Simona Fraudatorio (Permanent People’s Tribunal, Italy); Shannon Biggs (Movement Rights, USA), Ruth Nyambura (African Biodiversity Network – Kenya).

Cases heard by the Tribunal in Bonn

Climate Change and False Energy Solutions.

Expert witnesses testified about how corporations such as Exxon not only profit from activities which they know cause dangerous climate change, they have also deliberately promoted false solutions to climate change (e.g. nuclear energy and gas from fracking operations) and are impeded the introduction of renewable energy and other climate change mitigation measures. In some cases corporations have spread false propaganda about indigenous peoples and others opposing the fossil fuel industry.

The Tribunal heard disturbing evidence from witnesses about the severe health impacts of living in places polluted by the coal, oil and gas industries. Evidence was presented about how energy industry operations had contaminated water, air and ground in many parts of the world in violation of the rights of Mother Earth and of human rights. Witnesses from Mauritius and Texas gave evidence of the impacts of severe hurricanes and cyclones caused or exacerbated by climate change. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, homes were damaged, environmental restrictions were suspended and people had to breathe toxic fumes.

The Tribunal found that gas extraction by means of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), nuclear energy and carbon markets are all false solutions used to delay the transition to low-carbon societies. For example, fracking “breaks the bones of the Earth” and only perpetuates the destructive dependence upon oil, and gas. Carbon trading commodifies nature and allows the wealthy to buy the right to exceed national emission limits. The Tribunal decided that promoting and undertaking these activities violates the rights of Nature, including the right to integral health.

Financialization of Nature and the REDD+

Evidence was presented that REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) framework and other carbon market frameworks and payment for ecological services have resulted in more ecological destruction and pollution and facilitated the establishment and continuation of destructive industries. Witnesses explained how systematic mechanisms, such as REDD+ were resulting in indigenous and local peoples who had not degraded their lands being disposed and losing their rights in order to enable a polluting company elsewhere in the world to continue exceeding air emission limits.

The Tribunal found that that systems such as REDD+ that commodified Nature failed to recognise the reality that human beings are an integral and inseparable part of a living Earth community and that the exploitation, commodification and financialization of Nature is detrimental to all. Those who established these systems or who traded in carbon or biodiversity “credits”, were violating the rights of Nature and failing in their duty to ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth.

Lignite mining in the Hambach Forest

Witnesses gave evidence of how a massive lignite mine near Bonn has created the largest hole in Europe, and as it expands is destroying whole villages and the ancient Hambach forest. The forest has existed for 12,000 years, contains 800 year old trees and is home to 142 protected species. Only about 7 square kilometres of the original 60 square kilometres are left. The Tribunal heard evidence about how burning the lignite from the mine will exacerbate

global warming and cause severe pollution and health risks as well as diminish and pollute the groundwater which sustains the forest and other ecosystems. It also heard evidence from young people who are living high up in the trees in an attempt to protect them from destruction, and of how they now have an intimate relationship with the trees and the forest.

The Tribunal found that further expansion of the mine must be stopped immediately, that the site should be rehabilitated as far as possible and that Germany should recognise the rights of Nature in law in order to prevent such projects in the future. The Tribunal also drew attention to the fact that it is necessary to cease all coal mining as soon as possible in order to mitigate climate change, and particularly its effects on future generations.

Defenders of Mother Earth

The UDRME requires all human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings. Evidence from around the world exposed the wide-spread disregard for this duty and how people, particularly indigenous peoples, in the United States of America, Russia, Latin America and Africa are being persecuted for defending Nature from harm. In many cases the persecutions of indigenous peoples such as the Sámi peoples over long periods of time were clearly designed to destroy cultural understandings and practices that respect and protect the rights of Mother Earth and other beings.

Witnesses who testified included water protectors from Standing Rock in the United States, and representatives of indigenous peoples from Sweden (Sámi), and Russia (Shor). The Tribunal heard how indigenous people using peaceful means to defend water and Mother Earth are met with violence as governments protect corporate interests as occurred at Standing Rock. The Lakota Sioux tribe was never adequately consulted about the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline across their land. The evidence showed that the pipeline would diminish the quality of life of indigenous peoples minorities, specifically in relationship to the sacredness of water and sacred and cultural significant areas.

The Tribunal noted the ongoing history of systemic violations of the rights of the indigenous peoples. And reiterated that everyone has the duty to defend those who protect the rights of Mother Earth and to break the pattern of violation and abuse of indigenous peoples.

Almeria –deprivation of water

In the Almeria waters case the Tribunal found that the abstractions of huge quantities of water from aquifers in the Almeria region of Spain, primarily to irrigate large-scale intensive olive plantations is a violation of the rights of the rivers and ecological systems of Almeria, and a violation of the human rights of local peoples. The Spanish State and the government of Almeria must act immediately to stop the abstraction of groundwater to enable the ecosystems to recover, and the intensive cultivation of olives in Almeria must cease.

This case illustrates the consequences of treating water as a commodity that can be monopolised by the wealthy instead of recognising water as a vital source of life, which must be respected and afforded the highest level of protection. Although this case focused on a specific area, it is an example of what is happening in many areas of the world, and the principles are universal. Those human societies that do not respect water as life and which fail to take whatever measures are necessary to protect the ecological systems and cycles that generate water, destroy life and ultimately destroy themselves. Water is priceless – societies that sacrifice water sources for money, will pay a terrible price.

Threats to the Amazon

The Tribunal decided to hear a number of cases from different parts of the Amazon simultaneously in order to consider threats to the Amazon ecosystem in a holistic way. It heard evidence of widespread violations of indigenous rights and the rights of Mother Earth throughout the greater Amazon region. This included testimony about the huge mine proposed in French Guyana, and from communities in Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador. It is clear that this vital ecosystem that is a reservoir of life, home to many peoples and an essential part of maintaining global climatic stability, is being subjected to many attacks which violate its right to exist and maintain its vital cycles. The extractivist global model inevitably results in violations of the rights of the Amazon as a whole and diminishes the quality of life of all organisms in the region.
The Tribunal heard allegations of violations of the rights of Mother Earth arising from the proposed construction of a major road through the TIPNIS protected area in Bolivia and from oil exploitation in the area. Evidence about the victimization and intimidation of those opposing the construction of the road was also placed before the Tribunal. The Tribunal noted this evidence with great concern, particularly because the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was proclaimed in Bolivia in 2010 and Bolivia has championed rights of Nature internationally.

The Tribunal decided that it wished to gather more evidence from all concerned, including the State of Bolivia, and if possible to send a delegation on a fact-finding mission to Bolivia. It also decided to request the Bolivian government to impose a moratorium on construction of the proposed road and bridges through TIPNIS and on further oil exploration in or near TIPNIS, until the Tribunal has completed its work. The Tribunal was of the view that the imposition of such a moratorium would be an appropriate precautionary measure to avoid possible violations of rights of Mother Earth while a resolution to this dispute is being sought.

Trade Agreements and their Implications on Nature

Expert witnesses from Canada, Germany, South Africa and Puerto Rico testified that Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are the drivers of an unsustainable economy based on fossil fuels, privatization, commodification and legalized enslavement of all life on Earth. FTAs are legally binding and take precedence over non-binding commitments made under the Paris Agreement. States can even be prevented from passing new laws to protect ecosystems if the tribunals established under Investor State Dispute Settlement Mechanisms (ISDSMs) in FTAs decide that they are “barriers to trade”. Indigenous peoples pay the highest price under schemes like NAFTA. Because they have protected and live close to the land, they are targets for displacement in the quest for pristine untapped “resources” for drilling, clear-cutting water mining, etc. For example, 50% of the groundwater has already been depleted in NAFTA affected areas in Mexico.

The Tribunal found that Free Trade Agreements result in systemic violations of the Rights of Nature and are based on the delusion that trade is more important than life. The provisions of these agreements must be regarded as null and void to the extent that they conflict with the rights and duties in the UDRME.

Notes

The Global Alliance for Rights of Nature (GARN) is a network of organizations and individuals committed to the universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce “Rights of Nature – see https://therightsofnature.org/ The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature is available at http://therightsofnature.org/universal-declaration

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: https://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