Peoples’ Tribunal for the Rights of Nature Australia


AELA has created a permanent People’s Tribunal for the Rights of Nature Australia.

The Tribunal will hear cases presented by citizens and Earth lawyers concerned about the destruction of ecosystems and the wider Earth community in Australia.  Australia’s Tribunal is a Regional Chamber of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal.  Information about the International Tribunal can be found on this website:

For information about the Rights of Nature movement, and examples of Rights of Nature laws and policies around the world, please click here.

AELA has established the Tribunal as a permanent civil society institution. The Tribunal aims to provide a unique forum for people in Australia to speak on behalf of the non-human world, to challenge the current legal system’s failure to protect the health of our ecosystems and to highlight the role that the legal system, government agencies and corporations play in destroying the Earth community.  The Tribunal will make recommendations about law reform and restorative actions that need to happen to ensure the future protection of Australia’s precious ecosystems and wider Earth community.  Where appropriate, the Tribunal’s judgments will include specific proposals for creating rights of nature laws in Australia.

The Tribunal will be run according to rules developed for RON Tribunals by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.  A panel of judges will hear the cases and make recommendations. Citizens, scientific experts and legal experts from around Australia will be invited to participate. As a people’s tribunal, the RON Tribunal is not a government endorsed activity nor do any of its activities, decisions or recommendations have the force of government-sanctioned law.

To support the Tribunal, and become part of Australia’s Rights of Nature movement, please click here.


  • For a copy of the TRIBUNAL PROGRAM, which includes information about all the expert witnesses, Tribunal Panel members and cases – please click here.
  • For information about the Members of the Tribunal Panel, please click here.
  • To find out about the 2016 Tribunal Sponsors, please click here.


The Tribunal on 22nd October 2016 heard preliminary information from citizens and Earth lawyers, and admitted the cases to the Australian Tribunal for further deliberation during early 2017. The cases heard by the Tribunal were:

  • Mardoowarra/Fitzroy River (Western Australia) vs the Federal and WA Governments. 
    This case was presented by traditional custodians of the Mardoowarra/Fitzroy River and included claims that the River must have its legal rights recognised, in accordance with the traditional custodians’ ‘first laws’ which respect the rights of nature.
  • The Forests of Australia vs Federal and State Governments. 
    This case was presented by First Nations Peoples and forest protectors from East Gippsland, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern NSW, challenging the legality of native logging across the continent.
  • The Great Artesian Basin vs Federal & State Governments and Coal Seam Gas Industry. This case presented evidence from First Nations Peoples, scientists, community members and civil society organisations about the contamination and depletion of Australia’s precious groundwater.
  • The Atmospheric Commons and Great Barrier Reef vs Australian Government and the Fossil Fuel Industry.
    This case challenged Australia’s inaction on climate change and featured First Nations Peoples, scientists and civil society climate advocates. The Tribunal received an update on the status of the Great Barrier Reef, which was the first case that Australia took to the International Rights of Nature Tribunal, in 2014. Concerns for the Reef have heightened in light of the recent scientific evidence demonstrating the devastating bleaching of the reef.
  • Dr Michelle Maloney – Convenor and Director, Australian Earth Laws Alliance
  • Adjunct Professor Mary Graham, Kombu-merri and Wakka-Wakka Elder and Adjunct Professor, University of Queensland
  • Professor Irene Watson – Tanganekald and Meintangk First Nations Peoples and University of South Australia Law School
  • Gill Boehringer – former Dean of Macquarie Law School
  • Professor Brendan Mackey – Director, Griffith Climate Change Response Program
  • Benedict Coyne – Solicitor, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and Director of AELA
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To support the Tribunal and promote cultural engagement with the emerging movement around the Rights of Nature, AELA also created a major Earth Arts program in 2016, called ‘RONA16’.  AELA’s intention was to blend the creative re-interpretation of environmental governance with cultural responses to the rights of the natural world to flourish.  To see the catalogue from RONA16 please click here.