A Tribunal for Earth: WHY IT MATTERS

par Cormac Cullinan


Imagine how different the world would be if courts decided on the legitimacy – or otherwise – of human conduct on the basis of whether or it was in the best interests of the whole community of life.

Imagine if there were an international tribunal that concerned itself with the fundamental rights of all beings, including humans, and decided matters on the basis of what was best for the Earth community as a whole, regardless of politics; an Earth Tribunal of respected individuals that drew on the wisdom of humanity as a whole, respected the laws of Nature and was not beholden to governments or corporations.

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 done and what governments are willing to agree to and implement.

Dr. Vandana Shiva

“We the people assume the authority to conduct an International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature. We will investigate cases of environmental destruction, which violate the Rights of Nature.”  Prosecutor for the Earth, Ramiro Avila declared during the opening of the world’s first Tribunal on the Rights of Nature and Mother Earth.  The Tribunal held its inaugural session on Friday January 17, 2014 in Quito, Ecuador.

Dr. Vandana Shiva, internationally renowned author, physicist and environmental activist presided over the historic Tribunal together with nine other distinguished judges from seven countries and five continents. Dr. Shiva presented the closing ruling to admit all the nine cases of alleged violations of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, adopted in Cochabamba on April 20, 2010 and, for Ecuadorian cases, of the Ecuadorian Constitution. The Tribunal will be a permanent platform for hearing and judging cases from around the world.

More Information

For videos of the Summit, visit 2014 Global Rights of Nature Summit. Read more about the objectives and outcomes of the Summit at Global Rights of Nature Summit Outcomes.

In December 2014, the second International Rights of Nature Tribunal was convened in Lima, Peru parallel to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The next Tribunal was scheduled for Paris, France December 4-5.

Tribunal Protagonists

Here you can find the Judges, Prosecutor, and Secretariat of the tribunal.

Cases from Quito Tribunal

Learn more about the cases related to this tribunal.

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