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Archive for rights of mother earth

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

Eco-Instigator On International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) released the December 2015 edition of eco-Instigator with a detailed article on the International Rights of Nature Tribunal held in Paris during COP21.  Nnimmo Bassey served on the panel of distinguished judges at the Tribunal in Paris and presented for the Case on False Solutions for Climate Change during the Tribunal in Lima, Peru in December 2014.

Nnimmo Eco-I 10 CoverNnimmo Bassey

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

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

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

Health of Mother Earth Foundation

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

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

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

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

From Paris with love for lake Poopó

By Pablo Solón, El Observatorio Boliviano de Cambio Climático y “Desarrollo”, 21 December 2015

Lake Poopó becomes a desert while in Paris, governments conclude an agreement they call “historic” to address climate change. Will the Paris Agreement save over 125,000 lakes that are in danger of disappearing in the world due to climate change?

 From Paris with love for lake Poopó

The second largest lake in Bolivia did not disappear by magic. The causes of their demise are many and complex, but among them is the rise in temperature and increased frequency of natural disasters like El Niño caused by climate change. The lake Poopó that had an expanse of 2,337 km2 and a depth of 2.5 meters, is now a desert with a few puddles in the middle with no more than 30 centimeters of water depth.

If the average temperature rose globally by 0.8 °C due to climate change, on the lake Poopó the increase went to 2.5 °C leaving in its path thousands of dead fish, dead flamingos, fishing boats anchored to the ground, and hundreds of indigenous people, who for centuries were devoted to fishing, that now roam for help thinking of a very uncertain future. That is the true face of climate change that expands like a cancer throughout the world.

Will the Paris Agreement save over 125,000 lakes that are in danger of disappearing in the world due to climate change? 

Read the full text at Paris and the break with reality

Rights of Nature & Mother Earth: Sowing seeds of resistance, love and change.

Edited by Shannon Biggs and Tom BK Goldtooth

RONME-Sowing-Seeds

Movement Rights, Indigenous Environmental Network and Global Exchange are proud to announce the release of their new report for the Paris climate talks! Edited by Shannon Biggs and Tom BK Goldtooth, this report, “Rights of Nature & Mother Earth: Sowing seeds of resistance, love and change” is a collaboration between Movement Rights, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Global Exchange. Providing both a critique of the UNFCCC process and an alternative system of environmental protection, the report includes contributions by Dr. Vandana Shiva (India), Maude Barlow (Canada), Pablo Solon (Bolivia), Alberto Acosta (Ecuador), Cormac Cullinan (South Africa), Linda Sheehan (USA), Osprey Orielle Lake (USA) and many other luminaries.

Please share and download complete report here: http://www.movementrights.org/resources/RONME-SowingSeeds.pdf

The Earth Rights movement and the road beyond Paris

Preface Article by Tom B.K. Goldtooth and Shannon Biggs, editors

L’humanité et la nature ne font qu’un. ةدحاو ةعيبطلاو ةيناسنإلا . In the wake of the violence in Paris, Beirut, Syria, Iraq and around the world, we are reminded that not only are we one people—but humanity and all nature are one. It is time to seek peace and justice for humanity and Mother Earth.

While billed asthe most important climate meeting ever held, the next generation will not look back on the Paris COP 21 as the historic moment governments took decisive action on climate change.

The modern world is removed from nature. A world without a living knowledge of its spiritual relationship and responsibilities to the creative principles of the natural laws of Mother Earth, results in our planet become property, without a soul, to be owned and sold. Nearly everywhere, the legal paradigm of laws protects the ownership of nature, so it is not surprising that the UN climate negotiations are rooted in the continued privatization of ecosystems and putting a price tag on the processes of the natural world.

The predictable failure of the Paris UNFCCC negotiations has been 20 years in the making. The climate Ponzi scheme of trading of air, water, trees, soil, and biodiversity along with false solutions of carbon capture, genetically modified organisms, geoengineering, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, agrofuels, fracking, nuclear projects and energy generation from incineration—all these will do more harm than good to Mother Earth. As Nigerian activist Nnimo Bassey has said, “The outcome is already known: a  package of non-binding promises and non-commitments. It will be another carbon stock exchange.”

Changing our relation to the sacredness of Mother Earth

Rather than mourn the loss of international political leadership on climate change to the peddlers of extractive capitalism, its time to acknowledge where the real power to create change lies, and what Paris might be remembered for. The next generation could look back on Paris as the time when grassroots movements became the real and rightful leaders on climate with searing critiques of capitalism and endless growth and a transformative solutions based on equity, and living in balance with natural laws.

Climate change itself is the Earth’s demand for human system change; it is a wake up call to shake off old ways that got us here, and to create vibrant local living economies respectful of the living cycles of Mother Earth and Father Sky. It means shifting the legal landscape that has propped up industrialization by treating ecosystems as property to be owned and destroyed.

Rights of nature define legal rights for ecosystems “to exist, flourish and regenerate their natural capacities.” These laws challenge the status of nature as mere property and while not stopping development, recognizing legal rights of nature stops the kind of development that interferes with the existence and vitality of ecosystems. It provides a legal framework for an ethical and spiritual relationship to the Earth and the Sky. And its been growing at the local and national level around the world. In the last decade, three countries and dozens of communities have passed laws recognizing “legal standing” for ecosystems.

This report “Rights of Nature & Mother Earth: Sowing seeds of resistance, love and change” isn’t just a challenge to the UN climate framework. It is a call for Earth’s real revolution, a reawakening of the Sacred, and a legal framework to support real system change based on the inalienable rights of nature– of Mother Earth—of which our own human rights and the fate of humanity cannot be separated.
L’humanité et la nature ne font qu’un.

About the editors

Shannon Biggs is the co-founder and Executive Director of Movement Rights, advancing legal rights for communities, indigenous peoples and ecosystems. She has been a senior staffer at Global Exchange and the International Forum on Globalization, and is the co-author and editor of two books including “The Rights of Nature, the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Nature.” She is also a founder of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. She holds an MSc. from the London School of Economics (LSE) in Economics and the Politics of Empire.

Tom B.K. Goldtooth is the Executive Director of The Indigenous Environmental Network, a network of indigenous communities worldwide.  He is a leader of environmental and climate justice issues and the rights of Indigenous peoples. He is a board member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. In 2015 he received the Gandhi Peace Award, and is also co-and producer of an award-winning documentary Drumbeat For Mother Earth, which addresses the effects of bio-accumulative chemicals on indigenous communities.

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/.

“Laudato si” – A 21st Century Manifesto for Earth Democracy

By Vandana Shiva – L’Huffington Post Italia, 19 June 2015 reposted at Seed Freedom in English on June 20, 2015 at Seed Freedom

Pope Francis

Most reports of Pope Francis’s Encyclical in the press before the formal launch yesterday reduced this path breaking document with 246 paras on the contemporary ecological crisis and human crisis to the 4 paras on climate change (para 23-26). But Laudato Si is much wider and much deeper.

It is first of all a call for a change in consciousness and a world view from the dominant paradigm of the domination over nature and its destruction, to one where we see the Earth as our Mother, as our common home.

The ‘Laudato Si’ opens with St Francis’ prayer– “Praise be to you my Lord, through our sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs”.

This resonates so deeply with the Indian philosophy of Vasudhaiv Kutumkan, the Earth Family.

It resonates with the contemporary movement for the Rights of Mother Earth.

It resonates with cultures and faiths across the world. The encyclical is an invitation to “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of the planet” (paragraph 14) and this includes biodiversity, air, water, oceans.

It is clear that “to protect our common home we need to bring the whole family together” (13). The Encyclical goes on to say “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods which God has endowed her with. We have come to see ourselves as her lord and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the soil, in the water, in the air, and in all forms of life” (2).

More …

Seeding a transformed future

by Patricia Siemen May 12, 2015

Dr. Mira Shiva, Dr. Vandana Shiva and Sr. Pat Siemen. (Photo provided by Patricia Siemen)

Dr. Mira Shiva, Dr. Vandana Shiva and Sr. Pat Siemen. (Photo provided by Patricia Siemen)

Last month I returned from my first visit to India. I was invited to lead a week’s workshop on “Earth Democracy: Defending the Rights of People and Mother Earth” with Dr. Vandana Shiva and her sister Dr. Mira Shiva, a physician and leader in public health. The course took place at the Navdanya Biodiversity Learning Center at Bija Vidapeeth University in Dehradun, India.

Dehradun is nestled in the Doon Valley in northern India, at the foothills of the Himalayas, situated between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. Eight of us traveled from New Delhi to Dehradun by train for five hours to reach the Earth University learning site. It is comprised of a communal living compound and 50 acres of farm land growing only plants from native seeds. Navdanya is organized as a Gandhian ashram with a commitment to non-violence and a daily schedule of meditation and communal work – preparing the meals, cleaning the common spaces and working in the garden. The teaching sessions are often held outside if the weather is amenable.

Teaching with Dr. Vandana Shiva, an internationally renowned environmentalist, physicist, author, speaker and seed-saver par excellence, is a high honor. She and I first met in 2010 when I invited her to lead a conference on Earth Rights; Human Rights at the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law where I teach. We reconnected in 2013 in Quito, Ecuador, during the World’s First Peoples’ Tribunal on the Rights of Mother Earth, which was sponsored by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. It was while we were in Ecuador that Vandana invited me to teach a week’s course with her in India.

Read Pat’s complete inspiring article Seeding a transformed future at GlobalSistersReport

Thank you and Congratulations

Winter Newsletter and Thank You Members

Greetings Alliance Members,

Looking back on 2014, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your partnership, resiliency, creativity, and support.  Starting with the launch of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal and our Summit in January and culminating with the second International Tribunal in Lima this month, 2014 has been a momentous year for the Alliance.

Additionally, we have cheered as many of you hosted regional peoples tribunals, launched Rights of Nature initiatives in your communities and for the EU, organized events to advocate Rights of Nature, and reaffirmed recognition of Rights of Nature and Mother Earth through the messaging of your organizations and at events world wide. Some were spawned in conjunction with our Earth Rights Days of Action in October. Others germinated independently.  It is humbling and exhilarating to be a part of this movement with you.  Our aim is to shine a light on you to spur your momentum and success and to move us all toward a world living in harmony with nature and each other.

International Rights of Nature Tribunal ~ Lima, Peru

Alberto

The Global Alliance convened the second International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Lima, Peru concurrent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 20) in December 2014.  The hearings were an intense, deeply moving two days as one by one experts and witnesses came forward to present facts and stories detailing how they individually and collectively are impacted by gross violations to Mother Earth and the Rights of Nature.

Casey CampCasey Camp-Horinek of Oklahoma, USA told how “fracturing the skeleton of Mother Earth” for oil and gas is killing indigenous communities across the United States. Her own 600 person Ponca Nation is burying one relative a week due to death from cancer and other diseases.  She spoke movingly about feeling frequent earthquakes in an area that was not prone to earthquakes before fracking.  The shaking is all the more riveting to raw emotions dealing with the deep personal loss and the destructive impact of extractive industries.

Sônia Guajajara, the national coordinator of Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples (APIB), described the expansive flooding of the Amazon basin in Brazil caused by construction of the massive Belo Monte Dam.  Tens of thousands of indigenous peoples are being dislocated as their traditional homeland becomes buried under water.  Brazil is building a series of hydroelectric power dams throughout the Amazon to fuel the prodigious demands of aluminum smelters and a burgeoning economy. Furthermore seasonal water levels create questions about Belo Monte’s ability to provide proposed uninterrupted power and may require additional dams upstream to insure water supplies.

José Tendetza

Widows with their children from Ecuador and Peru spoke of the murder and disappearance of their husbands from communities who have been fighting the expansion of mining and oil extraction in South America. The Tribunal was dedicated to the memory of Jose Tendetza, Shuar leader (pictured right) who was found murdered only days before he was to present the Condor Mirador Mine Case.

Pablo Solon and witnesses provided clear evidence that false solutions for Climate Change such as geoengineering and carbon market mechanisms employed in REDD projects are systemic violations to Mother Earth and Rights of Nature.

Spirits soared as the Yasunidos Collective burst into the room singing and dancing after days of being repeatedly detained by Ecuadorian police who ultimately confiscated their bus. Yasunidos is a group of young activists who are calling for the Ecuadorian government to halt oil development in the fragile Yasuní National Park and to protect one of the most bio-diverse regions on our planet.

The Climate Caravan left Mexico several months ago in route to Lima.  The young Yasunidos group joined the caravan as they came through Ecuador to give a global voice to their stand in defense of Yasuní.  In spite of the delays and harassment by Ecuadorian officials, the group hired another bus and arrived to present their case to the Tribunal.

yasunidos800

Yasunidos manifests the resiliency of communities and organizations who are saying “Stop this madness!” The International Tribunal, and related locally hosted Tribunals, examine the evidence and give voice to this global call. The time is NOW to transform human consciousness, to redesign failing, consumptive economic and social structures, and to create a framework for living in harmony with nature grounded in the recognition of the Rights of Mother Earth.
Learn more:

NinewaWe are in the process of posting decisions of the Tribunal including videos and details of each of the cases on the Global Alliance website at  https://therightsofnature.org/lima-2014-tribunal/.

David Hill of the Guardian published a compelling article, Fracking and Lima Climate Talks Slammed at Rights of Nature Tribunal saying “It’s difficult to know what was more moving or arresting” as he went on to describe the intimate testimony of indigenous leaders describing “being fracked to death” and Nnimmo Bassey declaring that “business as usual means cooking Africa”.

At the conclusion of the International Tribunal, key members including Osprey Orielle Lake of WECAN, Tom BK Goldtooth presented at a Press Conference inside UNFCCC COP 20 in Lima:

UN Press Conference Lima on the International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Also in Lima, the Alliance hosted a Rights of Nature Tribunal event at the People’s Summit and marched with partners and some  200,000 participants in the Peoples’ Climate March through the streets of Lima.
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peoples march

A special Thank You!

The Tribunal was truly an international collaboration of our members.  Among the participating leaders were Alberto Acosta – President, Natalia Greene – Secretariat, Ramiro Avila – Prosecutor, WECAN International, Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Focus on the Global South, Amazon Watch, Acción Ecológica, Movement Rights, Alianza Arkana, our distinguished judges, and representatives from impacted communities of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and other areas of the Americas, Australia, and Africa.  Thank you to WECAN International and Amazon Watch for arranging the UNFCCC Press Conference.

Next steps for 2015

In December 2015, the UNFCCC COP21 meets in Paris, France.  The Global Alliance intends to again convene the International Rights of Nature Tribunal concurrent with the UN Climate Conference.

We need your support to maintain the momentum and carry on to Paris. We invite you to support us financially by making a donation to the Global Alliance!   Your financial contributions are tax deductible.

Thank you for your partnership and for your work towards advancing Rights of Nature ~ Rights of Mother Earth.

Blessings on the coming New Year!

Robin

Robin Milam
Administrative Director
Co-Secretariat, International Tribunal

Contact Us at TheRightsofNature.org.

Follow Rights of Nature Tribunal – Lima, Peru and on Facebook at The Rights of Nature for more details.