Rights of Nature Tribunals

“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 was created by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature in January 2014. The Tribunal aims to create a forum for people from all around the world to speak on behalf of nature, to protest the destruction of the Earth—destruction that is often sanctioned by governments and corporations—and to make recommendations about Earth’s protection and restoration. The Tribunal also has a strong focus on enabling Indigenous Peoples to share their unique concerns and solutions about land, water and culture with the global community.

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)

While the Tribunals are non-binding, they are proving their potential to impact outcomes on the ground. The last Tribunal held in Bonn, Germany heard a case on a proposed road through the National Park and Indigenous territory (TIPNIS) in Bolivia. This case was particularly high profile and as a result of media coverage generated from the Tribunal, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales halted (temporarily) the road project. The Tribunal sent a commission of GARN Rights of Nature experts to explore conditions on the ground in TIPNIS in August 2018, who then released a report about the impacts of the proposed road project, presented within the framework of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and other relevant legal Rights of Nature documents. The Tribunal will release its final ruling on the case in May 2019.

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.

The International Rights of Nature Tribunal has been created to provide systemic Rights of Nature based alternatives to the false solutions and failed negotiations of governing Nation States.

This “People’s Tribunal” provides a vehicle for reframing and adjudicating prominent environmental and social justice cases within the context of a Rights of Nature based earth jurisprudence. The adjudication process provides a platform for informed legal analysis of diverse cases based on Rights of Nature. With each case, the Tribunal will recommend actions for reparation, mitigation, restoration and prevention of further damages and harm.

The Tribunal provides a framework for educating civil society and governments on the fundamental tenets of Rights of Nature and an instrument for legal experts to examine constructs needed to more fully integrate Rights of Nature.

Concept

Rights of Nature is a new approach to environmental law, which views nature not as a series of resources that human beings can use, but as a living subject with its own interests and rights.

The International Rights of Nature Tribunal has been created to provide systemic Rights of Nature based alternatives to the false solutions and failed negotiations of governing Nation States.

This “People’s Tribunal” provides a vehicle for reframing and adjudicating prominent environmental and social justice cases within the context of a Rights of Nature based Earth Jurisprudence.

Mission

To make the Rights of Nature an inextricable part of our legal system and society demonstrating how courts and judges should treat environmental cases through Right of Nature Tribunals .

The Tribunal provides a framework for raising awareness and educating civil society and governments on the fundamental tenets of Rights of Nature and an instrument for legal experts to examine constructs needed to more fully integrate Rights of Nature.

Values

  • That the interests of nonhuman beings are of equal importance to human interests.
  • That we as a society need a fundamental paradigm shift in how we relate to Nature.
  • That our survival as a species is dependent upon our capacity for change at this fundamental juncture in history.
  • That the ideas that we promote are a fundamental tool that can change humanity’s prospects for the better.
  • That the adjudication process provides a platform for informed legal analysis of diverse cases based on the Rights of Nature and Earth Jurisprudence.

Constituting Documents

Tribunal Statutes

Tribunal Convention