EDLC is frequently asked to advise communities, their lawyers, non-governmental organizations, and others concerning strategies, resources, and networking in environmental human rights matters. EDLC has provided such advice on matters arising in dozens of countries around the world, and EDLC staff members have been invited to every continent to speak on human rights and corporate accountability issues before legal groups, non-governmental organizations, and foundations.
Protecting the rights of environmental defenders
Environmental defenders are suffering direct violations of their fundamental civil and political human rights. EDLC’s resources provide a starting point for learning how to fight back against these human rights violations, and include information on:
- Resource Directory for Environmental Defenders
- Defending against criminal charges and defamation (SLAPP) lawsuits
- Combating impunity
- Human rights law and remedies
- Violations in countries around the world
- How EDLC can help
Finding scientific and other experts
Communities often need assistance from scientific and other experts, whether for litigation or for other purposes. EDLC has access to a number of expert networks, and has helped obtained expert assistance on numerous occasions. Experts are often willing to work on a pro bono or reduced fee basis, and EDLC sometimes has funding available for expert services.
Preparing legal briefs: local cases, international law
EDLC is often asked to assist local lawyers in cases brought before domestic courts. These cases typically involve violations of the human rights of community members resulting from harm to their environment. Domestic courts are usually required to consider international law in deciding these cases, and people affected by harm to their environment enjoy substantial protections under international human rights law. Yet local lawyers often lack the time or training to address these issues, and many judges have a limited understanding of the relevant international law they must consider.
As a result, EDLC frequently prepares and submits legal briefs in these cases, focusing on the key issues under international human rights law. This international approach also dovetails with the local lawyers’ focus on domestic law. EDLC has written briefs in cases that seek recognition of the land rights of indigenous peoples, tackle health and environmental harm caused by pollution from resource development projects, fight for the participatory rights of communities affected by mines and dams, and defend speech and protest critical of a wide variety of environmental harms.
Resources on specific subjects
EDLC further assists environmental defenders by developing and providing resources that address recurring environmental human rights concerns. This approach enables EDLC to assist a greater number of individuals and communities than the “single case” approach. The resources described below are available upon request.
EDLC has developed the most extensive resources currently available to assist communities considering holding local votes on proposed resource development projects. These votes are increasingly being used to encourage citizen participation and peacefully resolve development issues. The resources include information on:
- Why a local vote?
- Results of local votes in different countries
- Law and remedies
- FAQ about local votes
- How EDLC can help
Because EDLC has worked on so many different types of issues in so many different countries, we may have other resources that could be useful to your community. Please contact EDLC to discuss your needs.
EDLC Programs in Action
Coal Mine Threatens Zulu and Rhinos
South Africa’s iMfolozi Wilderness supports the greatest concentration of rhino in the world, and is sacred to the Zulu people in neighboring communities. The proposed Fuleni coal mine will use large amounts of water, cause widespread pollution, and irreparably harm this environment.
EDLC is supporting South African lawyers working with local communities and environmental groups to stop the mine. The lawyers recently persuaded the government to reject the company’s scoping report of potential harms, but the fight is headed to court. MORE TO FOLLOW