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International Rights of Nature Tribunal


The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature was created by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature in January 2014.  The Tribunal has been created as a permanent tribunal and it will hear cases from around the world on an ongoing basis. The Tribunal was created by leaders of the Rights of Nature movement in response to concerns that current national and international legal systems do not protect the natural world. The Tribunal aims to create a forum for people from all around the world to give a voice to protest the destruction of the Earth—destruction that is often sanctioned by Governments and Corporations—and to make recommendations about Earth’s protection and restoration.  The Tribunal also has a strong focus on enabling indigenous people to share their unique concerns and solutions about land, water and culture with the global community.

Through its deliberations and decisions, the Tribunal will build a new jurisprudence for the Earth, and for the rights of nature. It will draw on the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth to determine cases where the rights of nature have been, or are going to be, violated. For Ecuadorian cases, the Tribunal will also draw on the Ecuadorian Constitution, which recognises the rights of nature. The Tribunal will hear cases, work with local lawyers to carry out detailed investigations of factual evidence and make rulings and decisions. The Tribunal will represent the Earth community, and lead the way in showing how our legal systems should be used to protect the natural world.

  • To watch a video about the origins and role of the Tribunal, please click here.
  • For information about Australia's Great Barrier Reef case, which was taken to the International Tribunal in January 2014, please click here.
  • To read “A Tribunal for Earth: Why It Matters“, by Cormac Cullinan (author of “Wild Law”), please click here.
  • To read “Finally Being Heard: The Rights of Nature Tribunal and the Great Barrier Reef Case”, by AELA’s National Convenor, Dr Michelle Maloney, please click here.



The Tribunal’s first hearings were held in Quito, Ecuador, on Friday 17th January. Headed by Vandana Shiva, physicist and internationally renowned environmental activist, the first meeting of the Tribunal heard eight cases to determine their admissibility for adjudication at a further Tribunal hearing in December 2014.

More than 200 people attended the public hearing, which saw lawyers represent the rights of nature in cases as diverse as the current threats facing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the damage suffered by Ecuador’s rainforests due to Chevron’s oil exploration and the damage suffered by ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s Deepwater Horizon mining disaster.  For further information about the Quito Tribunal hearing, please click here.


The Tribunal convened again on 5-6 December 2014, as a parallel event to the International Climate Change negotiations in Lima, Peru.  Among its decisions in Lima, The Tribunal condemned the Australian and Queensland Governments for violating the rights of the Great Barrier Reef to exist, thrive and evolve.  Information about the Lima Hearing can be found by clicking here, and details of the Tribunal’s recommendations about the Great Barrier Reef can be found by clicking here.


The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature will next convene in Paris in December 2015, in conjunction with the next UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP21).  For further information about the Paris Tribunal, please click here

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