The Monsanto Tribunal is an international civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity, and for alleged crimes against the environment. Between 14 and 16 October 2016, eminent judges heard testimonies from victims, and deliver an advisory opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice.
During the last two days the world was watching witnesses’ testimonies, lawyers’ pleas, and the first impressions of the judges. We had 750 participants in The Hague representing 30 nationalities from all over the world, thousands were following us online on the livestream and social media, and the Tribunal received a lot of press attention. Both victims and experts thanked us for giving them a voice on this important international platform; and a very well documented voice in this new process to hold corporations accountable for their acts.
The chairwoman of the Tribunal, Judge Tulkens, expressed the importance of the Tribunal in an interview with the French newspaper, Le Monde: “The questions of the access to water and to healthy food are old. Those are not new issues coming out of the mind of angry activists. Those issues, just like the right to a healthy environment are likely to become more important with climate change. It is our duty to set legal tools to face those issues. The Monsanto Tribunal is a step and a tool within this dynamic.”
The Tribunal received quite a lot of media coverage. From French and German TV news programs to many newspapers and radio programs in various countries. See the links on our social media platforms (and later on the website).
Monsanto was invited to the Tribunal, but decided not to appear for their defense. We did get their attention though. They issued a statement in 5 languages saying that we are ‘pushing’ the wrong issues, since the real discussion is about feeding the world. Monsanto fails to see feeding the world in a safe way was exactly the topic of the Tribunal of the discussion farmers, consumer movements, and their associated networks had in the parallel People’s Assembly. Many eminent speakers stressed that Monsanto and agribusiness giants like them do not feed the world. Rather, they are involved in producing commodities, feed for animals, fuel for cars, and sugar for the food industry at a very high cost for human health and environment. This is production that feeds profit, not people. It’s the small- and medium-scale farmers that are actually feeding the world.
This Tribunal and People’s Assembly are about showing the tremendous costs of industrial farming for humans, for health, and for nature. They are also about standing up to Monsanto and their likes, and stopping them from poisoning our world and controlling our food supply, One way to do this is by showing the true cost of the current global food system, and the very real alternatives that exist.
Nnimmo Bassey at the opening said: “Being an ambassador to this Tribunal is like being an ambassador to mother Earth. If mother Earth could speak, Monsanto ought to be in jail long before now. Food is a celebration, it is culture, it is life. This is a struggle not against one multinational corporation, it is a struggle for life, it is a struggle for liberty. A struggle to stop big companies from colonizing our food systems, colonizing our agriculture, holding mother Earth as a slave for their profits.”
Please follow us on Facebook where many pictures and videos have already been posted. You can also see them if you have no Facebook yourself. In the coming weeks we will continue to release short interviews of the witnesses, experts and lawyers, as well as the speakers in the People’s Assembly. We will also add all of this to our website, including all the hearings of the Tribunal and the written testimonies in different languages. Please be patient, we will keep you informed!
The judges are now thoroughly reviewing the evidence from legal briefs and witness testimonies to answer the six questions posed in the Tribunal’s terms of reference. They will then present a legal advisory opinion, hopefully soon but if necessary next spring: we will supply logistic support, but the timing is up to them.
As Judge Tulkens said, “We will try to deliver the legal opinion before December 10th, the International Day of human Rights. It will be addressed to Monsanto and to the United Nations. From this legal opinion, other jurisdictions can be involved and more judges will step in. We, as the judges [at the Monsanto Tribunal] have seen, heard, noted and deliberated. Chances are that the international law will take into consideration new issues such as the ones related to ecocide.“
We would like to thank you and all the volunteers for your amazing support. This would not have been possible without you. Stay tuned, follow us on social media, show your support and share messages wherever and whenever you can. Ask friends to sign their support. Together we will put an end to the era of poisoning and exploiting the world and move onward to a system where we work with nature instead of waging a war against it.
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