In the city of Marie-Antoinette, the Paris Commune and the guillotine, some of the world’s biggest corporations will go on trial before a “People’s Court of Mother Nature”, chaired by a South African attorney.
The 13 distinguished judges of the “International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature” will be hearing six cases in short order at Paris’s Maison des Métallos in Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud tomorrow and on Saturday.
Nature has rights and reparations are needed
But the defendants need not fear for their necks.
There are no guillotines or jail terms for those convicted by “the people” – though the tribunal may call for financial reparations, mitigation, restoration or the prevention of further damages and harm.
Heading the tribunal is Cormac Cullinan, a Cape Town attorney and author of the book Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice.
Cullinan also helped to draft the new “rights of nature” provisions in the constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia, inspiring similar protection-of-nature ordinances by several US municipalities, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Negotiators from nearly 200 countries gathered nearby at the UN’s COP21 Climate Change summit at Le Bourget, will also be on trial indirectly, as tribunal leaders have already pronounced this conference to be a failure, in advance.
An arid wasteland devoid of leadership
Jokes and sniggering aside, Cullinan believes the world’s current governance system is “an arid wasteland devoid of leadership and of any discernible track towards a viable future for most of humanity”.
Most legal systems, he argues, have been designed to serve “the imperial project of extending human control over every aspect of the planet”.
Most current laws, he says, disrespect the rights of nature – for example, the rights of a river to flow unimpeded by dams, or for natural forests not to be obliterated for profit.
The law is used to suppress those who take action to defend Earth
“The law is used to suppress those who take action to defend Earth and other beings, and to convict them as criminals guilty of anything from property damage to terrorism.”
His dream is for an international tribunal that concerns itself with the fundamental rights of all beings, including humans, that makes decisions on the basis of what is best for the Earth community as a whole, regardless of politics.
His aim – shared by most of the approximately 32 000 people who ratified the Earth Rights Declaration in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010 – is to ensure that plants, animals, rivers and other non-human “beings” have an inalienable right to exist and to survive.
Tribunal to investigate cases of alleged violations of Earth Right Declaration
The Paris trials relate to a variety of environmental and social issues, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking), mega dams in the Amazon, the cultivation of genetically modified crops, mining and oil exploration in Yasuni National Park.
Cullinan’s vision is for a tribunal to investigate and decide cases of alleged violations of the Earth Rights Declaration, and to promote universal acceptance that people “have a duty to respect the intrinsic rights of all natural beings”.
Tribunal members would be elected every three years.
There would also be a “Mother Earth Defender’s Office” to initiate cases and lead evidence on behalf of Mother Earth.
By Tony Carnie. Source: IOL