Find the Cases from the European Tribunal

Navigate this map and find more about the cases presented in the European Tribunal, in Defense of Aquatic Ecosystems


A lot of organizations have come together from across Europe to preserve, protect and restore Europe’s vital water ecosystems. We are working together, as the European Hub of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, to recognize and respect the inherent Rights of these ecosystems to exist, survive and thrive. We are organizing a European Citizens’ Tribunal for the Rights of Nature.

The Tribunal will hear and try five critical aquatic ecosystem cases on the sidelines of the IUCN Congress being held in January 2021. The five cases will be brought by frontline, impacted communities and experts from across Europe. The Tribunal will be presided over by a panel of experienced Rights of Nature judges from around the world.

This event is organized to bring not only maximum visibility to these current key struggles to protect Europe’s critical waterways and aquatic ecosystems, but to offer legal rulings and precedence that European communities can utilize to advance their fight to secure protection and restoration to the water systems they seek to protect.

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The establishment of the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature is intended to give effect to this dream. This bold venture by the members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature is a creative response to the current impasse at the international level which has led to a widening chasm between what global civil society wants to be done and what governments are willing to agree to and implement.

Concretely, the Rights of Nature Tribunal aims to demonstrate the legal effectiveness of the Rights of Nature by judging cases of environmental violations and making recommendations in a perspective of protection and restoration of ecosystems.

Internationally renowned jurists and personalities will rule on emblematic cases in Europe covering the entire water chain (dams, pollutions, glaciers, etc.) as well as climate change on the basis of the emerging legal frameworks of “Earth Law” : Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, Universal Declaration of River Rights, proposal for amendments to the Statute of the International Criminal Court on the crime of Ecocide.

The jury’s conclusions will be notified to the competent bodies of the European Union as well as to the persons responsible for damages. Through a long-term and broad-based mobilization, as well as the events and actions of the European Hub campaign, the aim is to stimulate the modification of European texts for the protection of aquatic ecosystems and the implementation of preventive and restorative actions.

Campaign for Rights of Aquatic Ecosystems

The increasing pollution and destruction of ecosystems, the overstepping of planetary limits and the depletion and waste of nature’s riches are threatening the conditions of life on Earth. Water pollution is one of the most alarming threats of all. The European Environment Agency states that only 40% of surface waters – lakes, rivers, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater – are in “good ecological status” in the European Union. 

In the face of this ecological crisis, the Rights of Nature therefore provide a systemic solution, recognizing the rights of ecosystems to exist and to be maintained as part of their intrinsic value, and allowing these rights to be claimed in court.

Thus, in order to raise public awareness and public authorities’ awareness of the protection of aquatic ecosystems through the concept and ethics of Nature’s rights, the European GARN Hub wishes to lead a global campaign over three years for the recognition of the rights of aquatic systems in Europe.

The Tribunal is the key element of this campaign, as it aims to have this concept implemented in the European Union.

Concretely, this campaign will bring together partner NGOs through the creation of a European mobilization platform calling for the recognition of the Rights of Aquatic Ecosystems. Based on the dissemination and enhancement of an online collaborative map identifying cases of violation of the Rights of Aquatic Ecosystems in Europe, the mobilization will aim to unite the organizations and citizen movements involved in Europe to disseminate the doctrine of Earth rights and thus develop a common advocacy. 

Our Objectives ?

Mobilize citizens through the creation of a European platform of associations calling for the recognition of the Rights of Aquatic Ecosystems; 

Identify and defend the Rights of Nature in Europe through digital tools, including the dissemination of a collaborative online map; 

Provide legal assistance to develop proposals for legislative or litigation strategies for the recognition of the rights of Nature; 

Develop training programs through the production of educational content for the general public and specialized audiences (ERASMUS for students, etc.); 

Organize public events, such as the Tribunal, as well as conferences, seminars and all other meetings to promote the recognition of the Rights of Nature and in particular the Rights of Aquatic Ecosystems; 

Structure a network of partner organizations at national and EU level and to seek new members and support across Europe.

Tribunal Protagonists

Here you can find the Judges, Prosecutor, and Co-Secretariats of the tribunal.


Recognition of the Rights of Aquatic Ecosystems

Recognizing and respecting the planetary boundaries

Sanctioning the crimes of Ecocide

Legal Experts

Our goal is to appeal to public decision-makers to initiate legal (r)evolutions at European and national levels. The innovation of our Tribunal is the effort we are making to integrate Rights of Nature within existing European and national legislation.  Environmental law is widely developed in national and regional legal systems, and is presently interpreted in an anthropocentric way, placing humans as central focus point and Nature as a pool of resources and services for mankind. However, the effects produced by legal texts depend on their interpretation at the time of implementation.

Interpreting existing environmental legislation in the light of the values carried by Rights of Nature can make previously anthropocentric texts have ecocentric and Earth-centred effects.

This interpretation work will then be included in concrete legal actions with the objective of influencing the way in which the judiciary system interprets current environmental law dispositions with a view of integrating Rights of Nature into the current legislation on all levels. 

Concretely, the campaign will aim to collect data on the current situation of aquatic ecosystems Rights in different European countries: ecological conservation status, national protection framework, local legal particularities,etc. This coordination is essential to ensure that all actors have the necessary information to advance their campaign, regardless their geographical location in Europe.

In this way, the Legal Assistance Group will have the task of developing a strategy and legal proposals for the recognition and protection of river Rights in Europe and / or in EU Member States based on collected information and the local legal and cultural context.

Because national policies for the protection of aquatic ecosystems, derived in particular from the European Water Framework Directive, still show unsatisfactory results. However, rivers do not stop at national borders, they cross different countries.

The European Union and the Member States have divided the river basins and associated coastal areas into 110 river basin districts, of which 40 are international and cross borders, covering about 60% of the European territory.

Therefore, it is coherent to continue this collaborative work at Community level in order to respect a logic of ecological continuity, to reinforce a European network of actors involved in the protection of aquatic ecosystems and to mobilize and raise public awareness to this advocacy around cases of ecocide and violation of Rights of Nature across Europe.

Cases from European Tribunal

Learn more about the cases related to this tribunal.

Balkan Rivers Case

The Balkan rivers are some of the last free-flowing and wild rivers of Europe and are a hotspot for biodiversity with unique ecosystems and wildlife ...

French Guiana Case

For more than 30 years, French Guiana has been a region severely hit by illegal gold mining. This activity is devastating the country because ...

Glacier Case

The Mer de Glace (literally “the sea of ice”) is a french glacier, located on the Mont-Blanc massif. This ice giant is however threatened: climate change ...

Marseille Case

The factory of Gardanne (Bouches du Rhône), is producing alumina, a material used to make electronic components. This activity emits toxic waste full of heavy ...

Vättern Case

Lake Vättern is the second largest lake in Sweden. It provides drinking water for more than 250 000 people, a number that may increase substantially in the ...
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