International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature

The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature in defense of Mother Earth took place today with presentations by several guests focused on climate change, oil, forests, minerals, and oil industries and more.

The rights of nature is a recognition that dignifies the trees, oceans, mountains and animas to have their respected rights, it is a place that treats nature as a priority, recognizing that nature has the right to live, to exist, persist and regenerate within its life cycles.

Currently nature is threatened by several factors, mainly by the oil and gas industry, with drilling practices such as “fracking”. The pursuit of economic power and wealth, makes mining and extracting earth substances rampant and it triggers much damage in people’s lives mainly in traditional and indigenous communities, because the drilling causes land and rivers to be contaminated with methane killing several species of animals, preventing people from fishing, hunting and maintaining their traditional way of life.

During a testimony given by Shannon Biggs, Director of Movement Rights, she spoke about the impossibility to frack safely. She told the Tribunal that people actually shower in the dark because they fear that a spark from their light bulb would ignite fire! “We all live downstream from Fracking,” Bigg’s said.
Casey Camp-Hornieck, from the Ponca Tripe in Oklahoma, took the floor next. Camp-Hornieck silenced the room.

“What happens when the Earth shakes?” she asked. I will tell you what happens: We die. It is that simple. We die.” She said that it is us who are the endangered species and prays, “the poison that goes into fracking does not go into you.” She went on to say that “We are being fracked to death – help us. The simplest way to help is to say NO. Say no to destruction.” Nimmo Bassey, Oilwatch International, gave a testimony on the devastating impacts of oil spills in Nigeria and around Africa. He shared stories of Fisherman going to the river to fish and coming back covered in oil. He talked about the major assault on Mother Earth and the people living in Africa explaining, “if the world has a 3 degree temperature rise, Africa will have a 6 degree temperature rise.”

Water stress is also an enormous concern, especially in Africa and jeopardizes Peace. “Water is Life” Bassey stated. The projected changes facing Africa will cause a surge in violence with an estimated 54% increase civil wars by 2030. Bassey concluded his testimony by stating that the solution is actually very simple: “Leave the oil in the soil, leave the coal in the hole and the sand in the land.”

The Rights of Mother Nature are consistently violated and the intense Tribunal went on to hear many more stories of grief, loss, fear and anger. Pablo Solon, Executive Director of Focus on the Global South, from Bolivia concluded that while we are winning several battles, we are losing the overall war. There was a heavy weight on the hearts and mind of all attendees at this Tribunal, recognizing just how extensively Mother Earth is suffering.

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