Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague: a big step for the world movement for food sovereignty

15.10.2016 - The Hague, The Netherlands - Pressenza Muenchen

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Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague: a big step for the world movement for food sovereignty

The Monsanto Tribunal is an international civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity, and for ecocide. Eminent judges will hear testimonies from victims, and deliver an advisory opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice. A distinct and parallel event, the People’s Assembly, provides the opportunity for social movements to rally and plan for the future we want. The Tribunal and People’s Assembly take place between 14 and 16 October 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands.

The accusations

For an increasing number of people from around the world, Monsanto today is the symbol of industrial agriculture. This chemical-intensive form of production pollutes the environment, accelerates biodiversity loss, and massively contributes to global warming.

Monsanto promotes an agroindustrial model that contributes at least one third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; it is also largely responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining biodiversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide. This is a model that threatens peoples’ food sovereignty by patenting seeds and privatizing life.

According to its critics, Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products and maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment: by lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by resorting to lying and corruption, by financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, by manipulating the press and media, etc. The history of Monsanto would thereby constitute a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet.

The aim

The Monsanto Tribunal, which is organised by a committee of experts, lawyers, scientists, journalists and activists, amongst them Vananda Shiva, aims to assess these allegations made against Monsanto, and to evaluate the damages caused by this transnational company. The Tribunal will rely on the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” adopted at the UN in 2011. It will also assess potential criminal liability on the basis of the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002. The Tribunal shall also assess the conduct of Monsanto as regards the crime of ecocide, which it has been proposed to include in international criminal law. It shall examine whether the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court in force since 2002 should be reformed, in order to include the crime of ecocide and to allow for the prosecution of individual and legal entities suspected of having committed this crime.

The Tribunal

The hearings of the Tribunal will take place on the 15th and 16th in the Institute of Social Studies (ISS). Five internationally renowned judges will hear 30 witnesses and experts from 5 continents. The aim of the Tribunal is to give a legal opinion on the environmental and health damage caused by the multinational Monsanto. This will add to the international debate to include the crime of Ecocide into international criminal law. It will also give people all over the world a well documented legal file to be used in lawsuits against Monsanto and similar chemical companies.

The People’s Assembly

Parallel to the hearings of the Monsanto Tribunal there will also be a People’s Assembly in The Hague. Here, visitors from all over the world will discuss strategies to counter the problems caused by industrial agriculture. A list of all organisations who have signed up for support, along with many thousands of individuals, can be found here.

First impressions from The Hague

“We are experiencing something very special here today. Representatives from movements all over the world have travelled to The Hague for the Monsanto Tribunal and the parallel People’s Assembly. On this World Food Day we will conquer language and culture barriers to strengthen the world food movement. You are supporting this and you are part of it. This is great! We all need this movement to put an end to the era of unpunished poisoning and exploitation of the earth as soon as possible.

The era of pesticides and war against nature is coming to an end. We are now entering the era of agroecology, of cooperation with nature to share life on earth and enjoy its abundance. We refuse more chemical warfare, patenting of life, junk food, land grabs and dependence of farmers on large corporations. Instead, we are standing together for a world where we reward farmers for their very important work, celebrate biodiversity, take care of healthy soils, and supply land for those who will use it wisely to grow good food for all.

Please follow us online and watch the livestream (just click on your preferred language, followed by “prev”) from the Tribunal.”

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