We were in Paris representing the Center for Earth Jurisprudence (CEJ) and serving as a member of the planning committee of the Third International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature.
The first Tribunal was created in 2013 by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN). CEJ is a member and active participant in the Alliance. On December 4 and 5th the Third International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature took place in Paris at Maison des Metallos. GARN hosted the Tribunal in partnership with End Ecocide on Earth, and supported by NaturesRights and Attac France. 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 which impact the shape of climate justice within the global community.
The Tribunal is a unique, citizen-created initiative. It gives people from all around the world the opportunity to testify publicly as to the destruction taking place in their communities — destruction that is often “legal” and done so with the support of governments and corporations.
Much like a criminal indictment or grand jury, the Tribunal featured internationally renowned lawyers and leaders for planetary justice, who sat as Judges and heard cases addressing issues of climate change, GMOs, fracking, extractive industries and other environmental and human violations. The distinguished panel of Tribunal judges consider the testimony, and then offer judgments and recommendations for Earth’s protection and restoration based on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. This Declaration demands everyone respect the integrity of Earth’s vital ecological processes. Accordingly, the Declaration supports proposed amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to recognize the crime of Ecocide.
Some of CEJ’s dearest friends and past workshop presenters were Judges or witnesses during the Tribunal. Cormac Cullinan served as the Chair of the Tribunal. Vandana Shiva presented a case with her peers on the destruction of food security because of GMO seeds. Natalie Greene sat as lead secretariat of the Tribunal and Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, presented the case on water privatization. Former Bolivian Ambassador to the UN Pablo Salon, and Nnimmo Bassey, former chair of Friends of the Earth International lead the case against the Financialization of Nature and the hidden downsides to the UN REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) program being foisted on primarily indigenous communities. Shannon Biggs, Movement Rights, USA, testified on behalf of the devastation happening because of fracking, as did Casey Camp Horinek of the Ponca Nation. Linda Sheehan of the Earth Law Center acted as one of the two prosecuting attorneys. Colleague Valérie Cabanes presented the case on Ecocide.
Other prestigious Judges included Tom Goldtooth, Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Alberto Acosta, former President Ecuador Constitutional Assembly, and Osprey Orielle Lake, co-director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network.
After hearing two days of testimony, the Judges found many injustices against Nature. Those Judgments will be released for the world to see—to apply and to consider. Linda Sheehan, in a powerful closing argument, aptly argued this: “we hear often that we need system change, not climate change…. system change is the Tribunal’s primary charge. Energy sources, or food systems, or a climate convention focused on our destructive economic system violate human rights, violate the rights of indigenous peoples, and violate the rights of nature.”