Yasuni ITT Case



Presented by Carlos Larrea, Ecuador

Report on Yasuni ITT oil and the Rights of Nature

Review judge’s ruling by Alberto Acosta to accept the Yasuni ITT case

Carlos Larrea, UASB

Carlos Larrea obtained a master’s in social sciences at the Bariloche Foundation in Argentina. He then he finished his Ph.D. in Political Economy at the York University in Toronto, Canada. He did a post-doc in the area of Health and Development at Harvard University in Boston, USA. He has conducted research and published articles and books on several topics such as political economy, economic and social development, sustainability and environment, socio-economic and environmental history, poverty, inequality and employment among others.

Profesor de la Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, ex – asesor técnico de la Iniciativa Yasuní-ITT, y autor de 3 libros y 7 artículos sobre la Iniciativa Yasuní-ITT y otros temas vinculados con la sustentabilidad en la Amazonía ecuatoriana.

2 Fuentes: Scientists Concerned for Yasuní National Park, letter to the President of Ecuador, November 25, 2004;  Bass M, Finer M, Jenkins C, et al.(2010), Global Conservation Significance of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park.

3 Woltman, Anna (2013). Greater Yasuní-Napo Moist Forest Landscape Conservation Area. Quito: Wildlife Conservation Society – USAID. (http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PDACP728.pdf . Visitado noviembre 2013).

International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Information held in the Tribunal of Quito:

Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, with the largest number of vertebrates per square kilometer in the world . The country is among the top ten international positions by number of amphibians, birds and butterflies, and holds second place for the number of orchids ( Josse, 2001 , Hassler and Rheinheimer, 2013) .

Yasuni National Park has been considered the most biodiverse place in the Western Hemisphere . It was created in 1979 and declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1989. It includes 982,000 hectors in the upper Napo basin in the western Amazon. Its strategic location close to the Equator and the Andes mountain range, provides unique climatic conditions in the Amazon, with relatively uniform temperature and high humidity.

Scientists agree the only value of the Park is for its extraordinary biodiversity, conservation status and cultural heritage. With 2,274 species of trees and shrubs, the park hosts up to 655 species in a single hectare, most of all native tree species in the United States and Canada. It has 593 species of birds and 80 species of bats, 150 amphibians and 121 reptiles and over 4,000 species of vascular plants per 1,000 km2 hectares. The number of insect species estimated at 100,000 ha, is the largest on the planet. Among these species there is a high degree of endemism.

The park has the highest density of species of amphibians, mammals , birds and plants in the Amazon. In addition , the temperature rise due to climate change will be comparatively moderate , giving it a strategic importance for the future conservation of species. These values ​​of the Park are explained by several reasons: the stable climate , high precipitation and high and steady temperature in different seasons. The diversity of soils on firm creates various ecosystems and floodplains . It was also mentioned that the territory was a refuge during the Pleistocene. In this geological period glaciations drastically cooled the global climate, making the most of the Amazon in a meadow . Species are concentrated in few places – ” Pleistocene refugia ” – where the forest remained , as in the Yasuní , producing the speciation process or divergent evolution of new species. The Pleistocene began 2.6 million years ago and ended 12,000 years ago.

The park houses two ecosystems : the Amazon rain forest , the Amazon rain forest and floodplain (Sierra , 1999).

The Yasuni National Park is also home to two indigenous groups who have chosen voluntary isolation from Western culture : the Tagaeri and Taromenane , both belonging to the Waorani culture.

Ecuador ‘s decision to exploit the oil fields ITT Block, mostly located within the Yasuni National Park, taken from August 15, 2013 , constitutes a serious threat to the conservation and integrity of the exceptional biodiversity of Yasuní National Park .

The rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish, enshrined in the Ecuadorian constitution, may be affected by the exploitation of oil in the ITT block .

Oil exploitation in the Ecuadorian Amazon from 1972 , and the construction of roads and infrastructure , and migration driven by inequality and poverty have generated an accelerated process of deforestation in the region, which has led , directly and indirectly, the disappearance of about 18% of native forests. The Ecuador suffers a deforestation rate of 0.75 % per annum ( Sierra , 2013 ), which is among the highest in Latin America. The integrity and health are vital to the provision of water and climate stability on the planet Amazonian ecosystems are threatened .

The projected advanced technologies with lower environmental impact employment does not guarantee the proper conservation of ecosystems and ITT Yasuni National Park, as evidenced by the previous experiences of oil extraction within the park. In the Maxus road, entering the Yasuni National Park in Block 16 , the oil companies have implemented a strict migration control . Nevertheless , studies report a 4% cumulative deforestation of native forests between 1906 and 2005 , and 20% loss in the density of large animals as a result of commercial hunting with firearms.

Monitoring the sale of hunted market Pompeii, in the vicinity of the Yasuni National Park , animals registered in 24 days of activity the sale of 322 mammals, 26 birds , 4 reptiles and more than a ton of fish, with total of 3.2 tons of meat. Recent photographs , published by National Geographic, the road built by Petroamazonas in Block 31 , also within the Yasuni National Park , are a serious reason for caution about the environmental future of the ITT field.

Additionally prevails at high risk of oil spills, particularly undoubted that vegetation in the ITT field can produce severe effects on the unique biodiversity of the area. In the land oil spills between 2000 and 2011 have reached a frequency of almost one per week (The Universe, June 14, 2013). It is unlikely that in future the two decades of oil exploitation in ITT will no spillage, despite the use of advanced technologies, as in the recent case of the Gulf of Mexico by BP.

Threats of oil exploitation in the ITT project not only biodiversity, but also affect the survivals of uncontacted peoples Tagaere and Taromentane, surviving in the primary forest. Recent studies, such as the renowned anthropologist Laura Rival, University of Oxford, documenting the severity of this threat.

International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Information held in the Tribunal of Lima:

In January 2014 the International Rights of Nature Tribunal accepted the case of the exploitation of Yasuni as a potential violation of the rights of nature. Since the acceptance hearing, two special sessions heard evidence and witnessed what might happen in Yasuni, the people who live there, and transgressions to those who defend the parks such as Yasunidos. In the April 11 session, the Tribunal formed a special Commission for the surveillance of Yasuní. During the August 15, 2015 hearing, the Tribunal condemned the violations of the rights of nature in the Yasuni and violations against its defenders.

Objective of the Tribunal: review judgments of Special Sessions and issue a final ruling.

Verdict, Lima:

Presenter: Gabriela Ruales, Ecuador Experts: Elena Galvez, México Affected: Alicia Cahuiya, Waorani-Ecuador

International Rights of Nature Tribunal

The Yasuní case was admitted to the first International Tribunal in Quito in January 2014. The case has convened two additional sessions, in March and August 2014, during which testimonies were received. The resolution of the August 2014 Tribunal sentenced the government of Ecuador for violation of the rights of Nature and ordered the Ecuadorian government to stop all mining activity in the area known as ITT (from the name of the deposits located there). In addition, the Tribunal ordered that a committee be appointed to report on the activities aimed at the exploitation of the park by the government of Ecuador. The Tribunal heard representatives of the Yasunidos movement and learned about what is happening in the Yasuni National Park with oil operations authorized with a mediocre environmental study that ignores the rights of Nature and impacts of the extraction activity on the different ecosystems. The Yasunidos testimony condemns the violation of their right to call a referendum by popular initiative and electoral fraud. Documentation of the infringements has been filed with the Commission. Yasunidos denounces attacks on their right to association, freedom of movement and expression as well as the bullying and harassment attempts to prevent the group’s travel to the Lima Tribunal and UN COP Convention.

The Tribunal heard testimony from Patricia Cahullí, a Waorani woman who told about the consequences of oil exploitation in the conflict among the Waorani people in contact with the West and the Taromenane Waorani people living isolation. For some years now, people have attacked each other. Recently, Taromenane killed two contacted Waorani, Ompure and Buganey.

The family, as is part of their tradition, in turn, killed some members of the Taromenane people, possibly more than 20 people with firearms. It is expected that this circle of death will continue. The local tribunals intervened and ruled that no violation by the bodies have been found. She asked the Tribunal to urge that indigenous nationalities of Ecuador assume responsibility for indigenous justice among the Waorani. The Tribunal resolves to urge the indigenous nationalities of Ecuador to use their power to resolve internal conflicts, practice indigenous justice and resolve this conflict among themselves.

In relation to assaults on Yasunidos, the Tribunal recommends the development of an expert paper on the popular Yasuni ITT initiative as a means of last resort to defend the rights of Mother Earth. The document is to be sent to the Commission and the Yasunidos movement. History of the Case with the Tribunal

The Special Court for Yasuní, established by the Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal, met Friday, August 15th, 2014, one year after the declaration of the President of Ecuador to make way for the exploitation of the ITT block in the Yasuni National Park, hence ending the Yasuní-ITT Initiative.

This Special Chamber met, following the provisions of the Court established in Quito on January 17th, 2014, chaired by Vandana Shiva, and the Special Chamber of the Court for the Yasuní case convened on April 11th, 2014, chaired by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, who ordered the creation of a special Committee to permanently monitor the implementation of the judgment.


Tribunal of Paris, 2015


Dominique Bourg and Alberto Acosta

Presenter Carlos Larrea

Andina Simón Bolivar University

Yasuní-ITT Case:

  • Esperanza Martinez (Acción Ecologica, Oilwatch – Keep Oil Underground – Annex 0);
  • Carolina Vallejo (Yasunidos);
  • Patricia Gualinga (Sarayaku)
International Rights of Nature Tribunal

The case of Yasuni ITT was re-opened to consider whether the actions of the Ecuadorian Government and President Correa, and all those complicit with them in the Yasuni ITT case, amounted to Ecocide under the proposed amendments to the Rome Statute. Carlos Larrea presented his case, basing his argument of Ecocide on the fact that biodiversity are endowments that are not owned by any one country and that removal of the oil in the Yasuni National Park would have transnational effects that would make it part of the “Global Commons” as defined under Article 6 of the Ecocide Amendments. Significant and durable damage would be caused to this Global Commons by the removal of the reserves of oil within the Yasuni National Park caused by President Correa’s decision to cancel the Yasuni ITT initiative.

Esperanza Martinez (Accion Ecologica) made a presentation of Oil Watch’s Annex Zero proposal to the UNFCC – that it formally create a group of “Annex Zero” territories being those peoples and communities which have undertaken to keep oil and gas reserves in the soil to prevent destructive climate charge.  Ms Martinez called upon a number of witnesses to give evidence of how their communities had taken action to protect Mother Earth by pledging oil and gas reserves remain in the body of Mother Earth. Yasuni ITT had become a symbol for uniting the Global South and North under such pledges.

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