International Rights of Nature Tribunal

XINGÚ AND CARAJÁS TERRITORY BRAZIL

Introduction

International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature

The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature is an international institution created by citizens to investigate and publicize violations of the rights of Nature. The Tribunal creates a forum for people around the world to speak out on behalf of Nature, to protest the destruction of the Earth – destruction encouraged by corporations with the blessing of governments – and thus the Tribunal makes conflicts and their perpetrators visible and makes legal recommendations on the protection and restoration of the Earth as model jurisprudence for grassroots communities. The Tribunal also focuses on supporting indigenous peoples to raise their voices and share the impacts they see on their territories as stewards of the Earth, but it is also a space to share solutions on land, water and culture with the global community.

The Tribunal’s verdicts, if applied at the highest level, could provide a much-needed tool in the struggle for environmental justice. The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature, a civil ethics tribunal modeled on the International War Crimes Tribunal, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal and other such grassroots efforts to compensate for state failure to deliver justice, now calls on the United Nations – and nations in general – to take up the work it has been doing for years and defend the fundamental rights of nature.

Climate and environmental crisis

In most of the legal systems operating in the world today – especially those in force at the national and international level – Nature and all the beings that comprise it exist only as so-called « natural resources »; a form of human property to be exploited to a greater or lesser degree at will, which makes it impossible to protect Nature in a court of law from any other angle than its role in human interests.

It is now clearer than ever that these legal systems have not only failed to protect our planet from the advances of insatiable extraction; they are, in fact, the tools of that same extraction, supposedly « regulating » the destruction caused by industries such as mining and fracking, while in practice only sanctioning and perpetuating it.

Faced with the inadequacy of traditional environmental law, the Rights of Nature present a new form of jurisprudence which, by recognizing Nature as a legal subject of rights just like human beings, pushes courts to look beyond economic incentives and make decisions based on the interests of both humanity and the Earth community as a whole.

Time is up: the ecological crisis is upon us in such a way that to deny it would be to reject the evidence before our very eyes, and we cannot afford to continue to comply with laws that are fundamentally inadequate to address the current situation; the fundamental Rights of Nature must be recognized at all legal levels: locally, nationally and internationally, if we are to avoid this crisis.

To this end, the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature aims to demonstrate how the Rights of Nature can be applied by presenting a series of pressing real-world cases before a panel of distinguished judges, who examine and rule on the cases from the perspective of the Rights of Nature.

International Rights of Nature Tribunal

5th International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature – Glasgow

The Fifth International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature was held on the 3rd and 4th of November 2021 in Glasgow, in parallel to the COP26 organized by the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC). It was a space where the message of the Rights of Nature and its defenders was conveyed, on the same stage where the world’s environmental policies are debated, and as an alternative to the many false solutions that are being sold there.

The Fifth International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature heard two of the most fundamental ecological cases facing the world today: climate change and its false solutions; and the Amazon as a living and threatened entity.

The Amazon, a living entity under threat

You cannot talk about climate change without talking about the Amazon, as there is no solution to the climate crisis without a healthy Amazon. With its rich biodiversity and enormous role in processing much of the world’s CO2 , as well as fostering life in so many magnificent ways, and in regulating the world’s climate, the fate of the Amazon is inextricably linked to the fate of the world as a whole, and yet this fragile and vital ecosystem is being destroyed at a precipitous rate. From oil extraction to mining, gold panning, poaching, logging, urbanization, soy cultivation, cattle ranching and uncontrolled fires, the threats facing the world’s most important rainforest are innumerable and severe, and all current science indicates that the tipping point is fast approaching.

To stop the destruction of the Amazon, it will be necessary to have true international cooperation among all the States that share it as part of their territory, and a real public pressure from the peoples of those countries and the whole world, and it will also be necessary to understand the Amazon as a complete ecosystem, as a living entity, and not to separate it by parts of countries. It is a single, living being on whose health the balance of the entire planet depends.

For this reason, the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature addressed the case of the Amazon, a threatened living entity, with the help of world-renowned local experts in the field, who provided a real perspective on what the problems facing the Amazon are and what the real solutions to reverse and avoid the tipping point are.

International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Visit to the Xingu and Carajás territory – Brazil

The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature held a hybrid hearing in Glasgow on November 3-4, 2021. The presenters of the Amazon case asked the Tribunal for an on-site visit to their territory to understand, first-hand, the threats facing the Amazon and to speak with Amazon defenders in their territory.  The judges of the Tribunal were particularly impressed with the participation of Antonia Melo, representative of the Xingú territory. In their deliberation, they agreed that despite the serious threats that exist throughout the Amazon territory, Brazil contains the most significant part of this unique biome and presents a series of threats. The Brazilian territory, especially the indigenous Amazon, concentrates important violations to the rights of Nature that should be made more clearly and assertively visible to the world.

The judges of the Tribunal expressed the following point as part of their decision in the verdict:

« Actions of the Tribunal in the Amazon territory Promote an in situ visit by a delegation of the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature to the Amazonian territory to verify the serious evidence presented in this hearing, prior to the FOSPA Meeting in July 2022 in Pará – Brazil, in coordination with the organizations of the World Assembly of the Amazon.  »

The judges of the Tribunal accepted this request and materialized it in the decision and verdict of the Tribunal. The Assembly of Judges met in early January 2022 and agreed to send a delegation to Brazil to visit the Xingu and Carajás territory.

The Pan-Amazonian Social Forum, FOSPA, will take place in Belém, Brazil, from July 28th to the 31st. The FOSPA Secretariat, by decision of the Assembly of Judges, invited the delegation to participate in the FOSPA to present the report of this visit.

The delegation of judges of the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature will visit Brazil from July 18th to the 31st. Between July 18th and 27th, the International Tribunal delegation will visit the Xingu and Carajás territories, and will then travel by caravan to Belém to attend the FOSPA.

We hope to organize the visit with grassroots organizations and allies in order to be able to meet with the majority of affected communities in the region and bring this message to FOSPA and the world.

This delegation will be led by Brazilian judge Felicio Pontes. Judges confirmed to date are Cormac Cullinan (South Africa), Princess Esmeralda (Belgium), and Patricia Gualinga (Ecuador). Blanca Chancosa (Ecuador) has also expressed interest in being part of this delegation and the Global Alliance Indigenous Council has voted to invite Tom Goldtooth (Diné Dakota) to be part of the delegation as well.

There are also other possible judges to whom an invitation to participate may be extended.

More information from the judges below

Cases from Brazil Tribunal

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JUDGES PARTICIPATION IN THE VISIT

Here you can find more about the Judges, Prosecutors, and Secretariat of the tribunal.

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ENG – Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth
ESP – Declaración Universal de los Derechos de la Madre Tierra
POR – Declaração Universal dos Direitos da Mae Terra
FRA – La Déclaration Universelle des Droits de la Terre Mère
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