International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Important Information

Following the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IUCN World Summit was again postponed. The date of this postponement is fixed to June. Nevertheless, and in order to be able to carry out our projects while respecting the constraints we have therefore decided to organize the European Tribunal for the Rights of Aquatic Ecosystems as soon as possible. The Tribunal will start on January 2021 with monthly audiences broadcasted live online.

Our goal is to present a case every last Saturday of the month between January and May. 5 months for 5 cases. This format will allow more time to each case, to fully value testimonials and expertise, and not to depend on the evolution of the sanitary emergency.

Depending on the evolution of the COVID pandemic19 and the postponement of the IUCN World Summit, we will organize an event in Marseilles, bringing together local partners, a jury of international experts and a limited number of people. The purpose of this meeting will be to present the final verdict for each case of the aquatic ecosystems.

The conclusions of the jury will be notified to the competent authorities of the Union and to those responsible for the damage. Through this season of hearings, as well as the events and actions of the GARN Europe campaign, the objective is to promote the modification of European texts for the protection of aquatic ecosystems and the implementation of preventive and remedial actions.

Download the final Verdicts

Verdict Balkans

Verdict Lake Vattern

Verdict French Guyana

Verdict Mediterranean Sea

Verdict Mer de glace

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


DateTitleEvent Link
January 30thSea of Ice, melting of European glaciersVIDEO
February 27thFrench Guiana, river pollution, and illegal gold panningVIDEO
March 27thLake Vättern, Sweden, water contaminationVIDEO
April 24thHydroelectric dams in the BalkansVIDEO
May 29thEcocide and red mud in MarseilleVIDEO


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.

International Rights of Nature Tribunal
Keep reading

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.

International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Glacier Case

-January 30th- 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 ...
International Rights of Nature Tribunal

French Guiana Case

-February 27th- For more than 30 years, French Guiana has been a region severely hit by illegal gold mining. This activity is devastating the country because ...
International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Vättern Case

-March 27th- 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 ...
International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Balkan Rivers Case

-April 24th- 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 ...
International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Marseille Case

-May 29th- 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 ...

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Join Us to Fight for The Rights Of Nature

1st Meeting of the Francophone Network for the Rights of Nature - 1ère Rencontre du Réseau Francophone pour les Droits de la Nature

Recognize the Rights of Nature?
This is the challenge of this new French-speaking network

Faced with the burgeoning of initiatives for the recognition of the rights of nature in France and Switzerland, local associations for the defense of nature and their partners officially announce the creation of a Francophone Network for the rights of nature.

Everywhere, forest and aquatic ecosystems are endangered by human activities: pollution, deforestation, mining or oil extraction, overexploitation of soils, resources or artificialization of land.

Our observation is as follows: current environmental law does not make it possible to effectively protect or preserve natural ecosystems, due to an unbalanced relationship between human activity and nature, to the detriment of all cash. Recognized rights to nature make it possible to instill a paradigm shift and rebalance the human-nature relationship. It is necessary to protect ecosystems even before their destruction because repairing them is impossible. Humans cannot replace nature. Nor can he continue to oppose the rest of the living.

Ecuador, New Zealand, Colombia, Australia, and many other states have already taken the plunge. In these States, ecosystems, animals, or plants win victories before official courts, by being granted legal personality, for their intrinsic value, and in particular in order to defend their rights to live and exist, their rights to respect and regeneration. The movement for the recognition of the rights of nature is growing around the world.

In France and Switzerland, the movement is also advancing. On the banks of the Loire, the last natural river in Europe, a Parliament was born, initiated in 2019 by the POLAU-arts & town planning center and the legal writer Camille de Toledo to give a voice to the river and its entire ecosystem. Last April, following the massive pollution of the Scheldt by a multinational, the Valentransition association, in turn, carried the project of a Parliament of the river. In 2019, a Bill of Rights for Trees was presented to the National Assembly by the association A.R.B.R.E.S. Then, a collective of 310 children from 10 European countries, coordinated by journalist Elsa Grangier, wrote a European Declaration of the Rights of the Planet sent to the European Commission. In September 2020, the Swiss association id · Eau launched the Rhône Appeal for the recognition of legal personality in the river, from its glacier to its delta.

From January to September 2021, the European Network of the World Alliance for the Rights of Nature will organize the first European Aquatic Ecosystem Tribunal. He will judge five emblematic cases of ecocide in France and in Europe.

A Mer de Glace which keeps retreating, millions of tons of toxic red mud dumped in the heart of the Calanques National Park, destroying all aquatic life; the illegal use of mercury for gold mining in Guyana dramatically impacting ecosystems and the humans who depend on them; the water of Lake Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake, soon to be unfit for consumption for nearly 250,000 inhabitants due to military activities and a mining project; and the certain disappearance of 11 species of fish, as well as the risk of extinction of at least 38 others, targeted by the construction of 2,500 hydroelectric dams on the rivers of the Balkans.

The rights of nature are an essential tool for defending living things before justice so that they are no longer perceived as a passive, inert environment, at the mercy of abuses. Legal personality is already granted to companies and other legal persons, while nature, which lives and sustains us, is still deprived of its rights. Water travels through our air, our soils, fills our cells, and in this sense reflects the general health of living things. Without water, no life. Forests are the lungs of the Earth, rivers and streams are its veins, it is urgent to recognize their rights!

With the signatories of this forum, we are now creating the Francophone Network for the Rights of Nature. Its objective: to support, everywhere in the French-speaking countries in Europe, the defenders of the rights of nature to fight against the activities which destroy it.

In 2021, because protecting living things means protecting us because together our voice is more powerful, let us affirm loud and clear the urgency of recognizing the rights of nature!

List of signatories:
A.R.B.R.E.S / Georges Feterman‌
Elsa Grangier
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
id • water / Rhône call
Nature Rights
Our business to all
POLAU-arts & town planning center
Valérie Cabanes
Marie Toussaint
Marine Calmet
Wild Legal
Valentrensition / Scheldt Parliament

Reconnaître les droits de la Nature?
C’est le défi de ce nouveau réseau francophone

Face au bourgeonnement d’initiatives pour la reconnaissance des droits de la nature en France et en Suisse, des associations locales de défense de la nature et leurs partenaires annoncent officiellement la création d'un Réseau Francophone pour les droits de la nature.

Partout les écosystèmes forestiers et aquatiques sont mis en danger par les activités humaines: pollutions, déforestation, extractions minières ou pétrolières, surexploitation des sols, ressources ou artificialisation des terres.

Notre constat est le suivant : le droit de l'environnement actuel ne permet pas de protéger ou de préserver efficacement les écosystèmes naturels, en raison d’un rapport déséquilibré entre l’activité humaine et la nature et cela au détriment de l’ensemble des espèces. Des droits reconnus à la nature permettent d’insuffler un changement de paradigme et de rééquilibrer le rapport humain-nature. Il est nécessaire de protéger les écosystèmes avant même leur destruction, car les réparer est impossible. L’humain ne peut remplacer la nature. Il ne peut pas non plus continuer de s’opposer au reste du vivant.

L’Equateur, la Nouvelle Zélande, la Colombie, l’Australie et de nombreux autres Etats ont dores et déjà sauté le pas. Dans ces Etats, les écosystèmes, les animaux, ou les plantes remportent des victoires devant les tribunaux officiels, en se voyant octroyer une personnalité juridique, pour leur valeur intrinsèque, et afin de défendre notamment leurs droits à vivre et à exister, leurs droits au respect et à la régénération. Le mouvement pour la reconnaissance des droits de la nature grandit dans le monde entier.

En France et en Suisse, le mouvement avance aussi. En bord de Loire, dernier fleuve naturel d’Europe, un Parlement est né, initié en 2019 par le POLAU-pôle arts&urbanisme et l’écrivain-juriste Camille de Toledo pour donner une voix au fleuve et à tout son écosystème. En avril dernier, suite à la pollution massive de l’Escaut par une multinationale, l’association Valentransition portait à son tour le projet d’un Parlement du fleuve. En 2019, une Déclaration des droits des arbres était présentée devant l’Assemblée Nationale par l’association A.R.B.R.E.S. Puis, un collectif de 310 enfants issus de 10 pays européens, coordonné par la journaliste Elsa Grangier rédigeait une Déclaration européenne des droits de la planète transmise à la Commission européenne. En septembre 2020, l’association suisse id·eau a lancé l’Appel du Rhône pour la reconnaissance d’une personnalité juridique au fleuve, de son glacier à son delta.

De janvier à septembre 2021, le Réseau Européen de l’Alliance Mondiale pour les Droits de la Nature organisera le premier Tribunal Européen des écosystèmes aquatiques. Il jugera cinq cas emblématiques d’écocide en France et en Europe.

Une Mer de Glace qui ne cesse de se retirer, des millions de tonnes de boues rouges toxiques déversées au coeur du Parc national des Calanques, anéantissant toute vie aquatique; l’utilisation illégale de mercure pour l’extraction de l’or en Guyane impactant dramatiquement les écosystèmes et les humains qui en dépendent; l’eau du Lac Vättern, deuxième plus grand lac suédois, bientôt impropre à la consommation pour près de 250 000 habitants du fait des activités militaires et d’un projet d’extraction minière; et la disparition certaine de 11 espèces de poissons, ainsi que le risque d’extinction d’au moins 38 autres, visées par l’aménagement de 2 500 barrages hydroélectriques sur les rivières des Balkans.

Les droits de la nature sont un outil essentiel pour défendre le vivant devant la justice afin qu’il ne soit plus perçu comme un environnement passif, inerte, à la merci des dérives. La personnalité juridique est déjà accordée aux entreprises et à d’autres personnes morales, alors que la nature, qui vit et nous fait vivre, se voit encore privée de ses droits. L’eau parcourt notre air, nos sols, remplit nos cellules, et en ce sens reflète la santé générale du vivant. Sans eau, point de vie. Les forêts sont les poumons de la Terre, les rivières et fleuves en sont ses veines, il est urgent de reconnaître leurs droits !

Avec les signataires de cette tribune, nous créons aujourd’hui le Réseau Francophone pour les Droits de la Nature. Son objectif : accompagner partout dans les pays francophones en Europe, les défenseur-ses des droits de la nature pour lutter contre les activités qui la détruisent.

En 2021, parce que protéger le vivant c’est nous protéger, parce qu’ensemble, notre voix est plus puissante, affirmons haut et fort l’urgence de reconnaître des droits à la nature !

Liste des signataires:
A.R.B.R.E.S /Georges Feterman‌
Elsa Grangier
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
id•eau/ Appel du Rhône
Nature Rights
Notre Affaire à Tous
POLAU-pôle arts&urbanisme
Valérie Cabanes
Marie Toussaint
Marine Calmet
Wild Legal
Valentrensition / Parlement de l’Escaut

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