The third International Rights of Nature Tribunal was held concurrently with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 21) at Maison des Métallos in Paris, France. Hosted by the Global Alliance of the Rights of Nature in partnership with End Ecocide on Earth, NatureRights & Attac France, the panel of judges consisting of internationally renowned lawyers and leaders for planetary justice heard evidence and pronounced judgments on 4 cases after the first day and 4 cases on day 2.

The Tribunal is a unique, citizen-created initiative that relies on the mandate granted to it through the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. It gives people from all around the world the opportunity to testify publicly as to the destruction of the Earth. The Tribunal provides a systemic alternative to environmental protection, acknowledging that ecosystems have the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate their vital cycles.

The Tribunal features internationally renowned lawyers and leaders for planetary justice, who hear cases addressing issues such as climate change, GMOs, fracking, extractive industries and other environmental violations. The Tribunal offered judgments and recommendations for the Earth’s protection and restoration based on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Among other things, the Declaration binds us to respect the integrity of the vital ecological processes of the Earth.

Accordingly, the Declaration also helps advance proposed amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to recognize the crime of Ecocide. The Tribunal has a strong focus on enabling indigenous peoples and local communities to share their unique concerns and solutions about land, water and culture with the global community.

The Tribunal opened on December 4 with a formal signing of the Tribunal Convention by Tribunal delegates and Indigenous Leaders from around the world. Shown here is the signing by Chief Raoni of the Kayapo people of the Brazilian Amazon and Tribunal Officiates.

CASES

JUDGES

CORMAC CULLINAN

South Africa

Cullinan is a practicing environmental attorney and author based in Cape Town, South Africa.   He is a director of the leading South African environmental law firm, Cullinan & Associates Inc., and Chief Executive Officer of EnAct International, an environmental governance consultancy. A former anti-apartheid activist, and a London-based commercial lawyer, he has practiced, taught and written about environmental law and policy since 1992, and has worked in more than 20 countries.

NNIMMO BASSEY

Nigeria

is a Nigerian architect, environmentalist activist, author and poet, who 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 a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2012 he was awarded the Rafto Prize. He serves on the Advisory Board and is Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, an environmental think tank and advocacy organization.

ABERTO ACOSTA

Ecuador

Economist and former President of Constitutional Assembly. Alberto work as a consultant for the American Institute for Social Research ILDIS (Friedrich Ebert Foundation) and to lead this organization’s project to analyze the economic situation of Ecuador.

PHILIPPE DESBROSSES

France

Philippe Desbrosses is a French farmer, scientist and writer. He is one of the pioneers of organic farming in Europe.

DOMINIQUE BOURG

France

is a French philosopher. Since 2006, he is professor at the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland).

 

He has two doctorates and is a specialist of the environment, global changes, and sustainable development. He published many articles and books and participated in various committees related to the environment.

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TOM GOLDTOOTH

Turtle Island, USA

Executive Director – Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) has been involved with environmental related issues and programs working within tribal governments in developing indigenous-based environmental protection infrastructures. 

OSPREY ORIELLE LAKE

USA

is the Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). She works nationally and internationally with grassroots and Indigenous leaders, policy-makers and scientists to mobilize women for climate justice, resilient communities, systemic change and a just transition to a clean energy future. Osprey serves on the Executive Committee for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and is the visionary behind the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit, which brought together 100 women leaders from around the world.

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RUTH NYAMBURA

Kenya

Political ecologist, African Ecofeminists Collective

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DAMIEN SHORT

United Kingdom

Professor Damien Short is Director of the Human Rights Consortium (HRC) and a Professor of Human Rights and Environmental Justice at the School of Advanced Study. He has spent his entire professional career working in the field of human rights and environmental justice, both as a scholar and advocate. He has researched and published extensively in the areas of indigenous peoples’ rights, genocide studies, reconciliation projects and environmental human rights.

FELICIO PONTES

Brasil

Felício Pontes, Attorney of the Republic, who works with the issues inherent to the Amazon in the federal regional court of Brasília, was auditor of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in October.

PROSECUTOR

SECRETARIAT

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RAMIRO ÁVILA

Prosecutor

holds a PhD in Legal Sociology from the University of the Basque Country. Master of Law from Columbia University (New York). Master in Legal Sociology from the University of the Basque Country-International Institute of Legal Sociology (Oñati). Lawyer and graduate in Legal Science from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE). Professor of Law in ​​the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar-Sede Ecuador, directs the Law Area and coordinates the international Master’s Degree in Law Research. 

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LINDA SHEEHAN

Prosecutor

holds a PhD in Legal Sociology from the University of the Basque Country. Master of Law from Columbia University (New York). Master in Legal Sociology from the University of the Basque Country-International Institute of Legal Sociology (Oñati). Lawyer and graduate in Legal Science from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE). Professor of Law in ​​the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar-Sede Ecuador, directs the Law Area and coordinates the international Master’s Degree in Law Research. 

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NATALIA GREENE

Secretariat

is part of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal’s Secretariat.  Natalia is a consultant for Rights of Nature with Pachamama Alliance and is the focal point in Ecuador for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. She graduated in Hampshire College, holds a Political Science master’s degree from FLACSO Ecuador and a master’s degree from UASB on Climate Change. She promoted the recognition of Rights for Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution.

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SECRETARIAT ADVISORS

  • Edgardo Lander (Universidad Central de Venezuela, Transnational Institute - Venezuela)

  • Joan Martínez Alier (Prof. ICTA Autonomous University of Barcelona - Spain)

  • Enrique Viale (Asociación Argentina de Abogados Ambientalistas - Argentina)

  • Thomas Coutrot (Attac France), Fernando Pino Solanas (Senator, Argentina) 

PRESIDENT CORMAC CULLINAN CONCLUDES RIGHTS OF NATURE TRIBUNAL

“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.’”

Cormac Cullinan, President of the Paris Tribunal, presents conclusions of proceedings of the 2-day International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Paris, Saturday December 5, 2015.

Closing Statement by Cormac Cullinan, President
International Rights of Nature Tribunal

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I think you will all agree with me that over these last two days we have been extraordinarily fortunate to participate in these proceedings. These proceedings will, we hope, prove not only to have been extraordinary in terms of what we have heard and the evidence that has been led but also to be historic.

 

Formal establishment of truly International Tribunal

The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, which as you heard was approved in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010, has created a manifesto for earth justice for organizations and people all over the world.  What has happened here today and yesterday has been the consolidation of that effort by the establishment of the Tribunal – the formal establishment the Tribunal because it already existed – by the People’s Convention which entered into force yesterday. This represents a significant step forward because it is an example to people everywhere how, when the governments of the world failed, we can step forward as people and begin to create the world that we want to see.  We can create People’s institutions; we can enter into agreements ourselves and begin to create the future that we want. 

More than 80 people from many different countries of the world have participated in these proceedings as judges, as experts, as presenters, as prosecutors, etc. So I think we can safely say that this is a truly international tribunal.

Systemic problems require systemic responses – “What befalls the earth, befalls the children of the earth.”

It has been wonderful to hear the stories from all over the world coming together. And what they have shown us, is that if you had any doubts about this before, we are facing systemic problems. We are facing deep-rooted problems in the dominant civilizations which need to be addressed. Roots which are not only to do with environmental degradation but which also affect issues of patriarchy and the military.

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.”

 

The evidence before the Tribunal and its findings

And the evidence has been harrowing. We have all been through an emotional journey. Sometimes it has evoked anger, sometimes heartbreak and sorrow.  We have heard about the attacks on the Defenders of the Earth and we have heard about the attacks on the Earth.  Can you imagine how much deeper and intense this journey would have been if all our relations had been able to come here and testify? If the fish, and the birds, and the trees, and the creatures in the soil had been able to come here and tell us about how they are experiencing the assault on Mother Earth. If they had been able to talk about the destruction of their home, the poisoning of their children, and the extinction of their species.

The findings which flow from this evidence are damning. There is no doubt about it -we are experiencing systematic violations of the Rights of Mother Earth. Almost all beings on the planet are affected and almost every single article in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth has been violated, as you have heard.

 

Download Cormac Cullinan’s Closing Tribunal statement

© An initiative of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature

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