WHAT IS AN INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS OF NATURE TRIBUNAL?
HISTORY OF THE RIGHTS OF NATURE TRIBUNAL
“To facilitate their efforts, RoN advocates [GARN] created a new international governing institution: the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature. ... the idea was inspired by the International War Crimes Tribunal and the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, established by citizens to investigate and publicize human rights violations. Just as these tribunals provided social pressure to create and strengthen international human rights law, the International Tribunal for the RoN is meant to foster international Rights of Nature law.” CRAIG M. KAUFFMAN a and PAMELA L. MARTIN
The International Rights of Nature Tribunal has met four times. Dr. Vandana Shiva (India) presided over the first International Rights of Nature Tribunal, which was convened in Quito, Ecuador in January 2014. The Tribunal subsequently conducted hearings in Lima, Peru (December 2014), in a Tribunal presided over by Alberto Acosta (Ecuador). The third International Tribunal was held in Paris, France in December 2015 during the COP21, presided over by Cormac Cullinan (South Africa). The latest Tribunal was held in Bonn, Germany in November 2017 during COP23, presided by Tom Goldtooth (Dine' and Dakota, USA)
In addition, Regional Chambers of the Tribunal have conducted numerous hearings, including:
Two hearings in Quito for Yasuní (April 11th, 2014 – conducted by Boaventura de Sousa Santos; and August 15th, 2014, led by George Caffentzis);
Two hearings in San Francisco Bay Area, first against Chevron (October 5th, 2014, led by Anuradha Mittal) and second for the Delta Ecosystem (April 20th 2016, with the participation of Pennie Opal Plant, Liz Husked, Gary Mulcahy, and Tim Stroshane); and
An initial hearing in Brisbane, Australia on the Great Barrier Reef (October 15th, 2014 which included prominent Australian scientists and lawyers).
The creation of a Permanent Regional Tribunal in Australia, which had its first full hearing on 22 October 2016. This Tribunal is unique in Australia, as it is the first time that Indigenous and non-indigenous people have stood together to speak for the natural world and demand the transformation of the legal system to recognise the rights of nature.
Ramiro Ávila, Ecuadorian attorney and professor, served as Prosecutor for the Earth in the three International Tribunals and in the Yasuní Tribunals, and Linda Sheehan served as the second prosecutor at the Paris Tribunal in 2015 and the Bonn Tribunal in 2017. Natalia Greene has served as the International Tribunal’s Secretariat.