Nature’s Rights Considered at Human Rights Tribunal

For the first time in its 39 year history, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) will hear submissions and evidence advocating for nature’s rights.

During the forthcoming Tribunal on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change, the Tribunal judges are being asked to consider the following question:-

“What is the extent of responsibility and liability of States and non-state actors, both legal and moral, for violations of the rights of nature related to environmental and climate harm caused by these unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques?”

In March 2018, the Earth Law Alliance’s Director, Lisa Mead, LL.M. and Dr. Michelle Maloney, Convenor of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, made a formal submission to the PPT advocating for nature’s rights. The submission included evidence of harm caused to nature by unconventional oil and gas extraction. It also provided information about countries that have already banned fracking.

The submission argues that nature’s rights are being violated by unconventional oil and gas extraction.

It details a number of serious infringements of the rights of nature, including:-

  • violations of the rights of the climate system as a whole,
  • violations of the rights of rivers, waterways and aquifers,
  • violations of the land and its sub-surface, and
  • violations of the rights of animals and plants to exist, thrive and evolve.

The submission draws on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. It articulates the rights that must be recognised, in order for humans to heal their relationship with Earth, and for all of nature to survive and thrive.

In support of the case for nature’s rights to be recognised and upheld, the Center for Earth Jurisprudence submitted an amicus curiae brief to the PPT. The brief highlighted the indivisible connection between human rights and rights of the Earth, and detailed why they must be considered together. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) also submitted an amicus curiae brief. It demonstrates the negative ways in which unconventional oil and gas extraction is impacting air and water quality, harming nature and wildlife, and accelerating climate change. CELDF’s brief also sets out arguments demonstrating that from a scientific, legal, moral, and spiritual perspective, both state and non-state actors are responsible, and therefore liable, for environmental and climate harm caused by unconventional oil and gas extraction.

The formal hearings of the PPT on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change will take place entirely online from 14-18 May 2018. Lawyers and witnesses from many countries will provide oral testimony relating to violations of both human rights and nature’s rights. The live streaming will be open to the public, with details to be posted just prior to the event on the website of the PPT on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change.

 

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