On International Human Rights Day ELC Report Highlights Threats to Human Rights and Nature's Rights



Report available now at http://bit.ly/2h7QzMM

San Francisco, California—Today, Earth Law Center (ELC) released its second annual report detailing co-­‐violations of human rights and nature’s rights around the globe. Rights co-­‐violations occur when governments or industry, or both, impact humans and nature out of the same destructive activity.

ELC is releasing the report on International Human Rights Day as a reminder that fundamental rights are inalienable and interdependent, and that we must not seek to diminish them for economic gain. We must instead exercise our duty to uphold the rights of all under attack, including nature.

ELC’s report, Fighting for Our Shared Future: Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature’s Rights (2016 Update), examines 200 instances of co-­‐violations of rights worldwide. It also explores four representative case studies in greater depth: (1) suppression of tribal and other voices opposing the dangerous Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock; (2) eradication of Indonesia’s forests, species, and indigenous communities for massive palm oil plantations; (3) murder and violence directed towards opponents of mega-­‐dams and other destructive projects in Honduras; and (4) the global destruction of our oceans, brought about in part by violations of workers’ rights. The report is paired with an online map on ELC’s website, where the public can submit details on additional co-­‐violations.

“The report’s findings demonstrate that human rights and nature’s rights are intertwined and co-­‐ dependent,” said Grant Wilson, Interim Director of Earth Law Center. “On International Human Rights Day, we must recognize that human rights cannot be protected without also protecting the rights of nature to exist, thrive, and evolve.”

The rights of nature are fundamental and inalienable, just as human rights are. Ecuador and Bolivia both recognize rights of nature in their constitutions and laws, New Zealand has recognized them in treaty agreements, and dozens of U.S. cities have adopted ordinances that protect nature’s rights.

Among other findings, the 200 case studies collected by ELC indicate that:

·             Co-­‐violations of nature’s rights and human rights are expanding across the globe, with the Global South proportionately more affected – particularly South America and Asia.

·             Thirty percent of the cases examined involved harm to indigenous peoples’ rights, despite their comprising only five percent of the population.

·             With regard to violations of nature’s rights, pollution and biodiversity loss appear most often.

·             Human rights violations parallel and co-­‐exist with the expanding scope and depth of nature’s rights violations. Chillingly, 28 percent of human rights violations examined involved at least one murder.

·             Perpetrators include both government and economic actors – with 43 percent of cases involving both government and economic actors as perpetrators.

The report also highlights specific solutions, including calls to:

·             Recognize in law and implement the fundamental rights of nature, including through U.N. General Assembly adoption of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth

·             Prioritize cases by the International Criminal Court that involve co-­‐violations of rights

·             Formulate one or more international treaties to prevent and address human rights and nature’s rights violations by transnational and national business enterprises

·             Provide emergency protection to at-­‐risk environmental defenders