Communities Demand Justice for Polluting Companies’ Contribution to Climate Change

23/09/2021
Press release
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(Bogota, Paris, Quito, Santiago) 23 September 2021 – Communities affected by environmental crises across Latin America—accompanied by FIDH and its member organisations*—announced the filing of a series of lawsuits. Two are filed today in Chile and Colombia against companies for their harmful and polluting activities and for contributing to climate change.

To discover our communication kit, please contact the #SeeYouInCourt team: mondialisation@fidh.org !

These lawsuits mark the launch of #SeeYouInCourt, a global campaign to increase the number of such cases and to make the right to a healthy environment an internationally recognized human right. Indeed, #SeeYouInCourt is not just a hashtag or a publicity campaign: it launches a series of actions to hold companies accountable for their harmful practices that prevent tens of thousands of communities around the world from living in a healthy, safe, and clean environment.

"Money isn’t everything: nature is priceless and its destruction causes lasting, irreparable damage. Defending nature means denouncing the social, economic and spiritual harm that companies have caused by destroying it, putting the survival of our people at risk."

Luis Misael Socarras Ipuana, human rights defender and leader of the Wayuu communities of Guajira, in Colombia.

For over a year, we have been launching coordinated litigation against multinationals involved or states that let them do so. We expect the two new actions filed today to be instrumental in seeking environmental justice and advancing efforts for the right to a healthy environment to enjoy official recognition.

In Chile, the Observatorio Ciudadano and two other organisations are filing today a protection action against environmental and climate impacts and incidents of massive intoxication caused by coal-fired power plants, mainly those of AES Gener, and the failure of environmental authorities to adequately control their emissions.

In Colombia, CAJAR, along with a group of local communities, filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the risk of irreparable damage caused by the diverting of the Arroyo Bruno river and its development to expand the largest open-pit coal mine in Latin America, Carbones del Cerrejón.

"Faced with the complacency of the state and the lack of even the most basic due diligence by the companies responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change with serious human rights impacts, we have decided to go to court as a last resort to prevent this from happening.”

José Aylwin, director of Chilean NGO Observatorio Ciudadano, an FIDH member organisation.

The #SeeYouInCourt campaign aims to put in place resources that will allow the replication of similar litigation on an international scale: FIDH’s support for local organisations, the development of judicial expertise, the provision of a comprehensive guide about remedies, the creation of a network of NGOs to foster exchange and mutual support, etc. To support the multiplication of legal actions against polluting companies around the world,FIDH invites the general public to participate in the financing of these actions.

Discover here the dedicated website and the communication kit set up for the campaign.

Curbing the destruction of the planet and climate change are the greatest challenges of our time, and corporate responsibility remains one of the blind spots in environmental policies. It is imperative to strengthen the mechanisms and jurisprudence that address corporations’ responsibility for their impact on the environment.

"Protecting the planet and fighting the climate crisis are two of the greatest challenges of our time. States must listen to communities’ demands to recognize the human right to a healthy environment and better regulate businesses with respect to the impacts of their operations."

Alice Mogwe, FIDH president

The launch of the #SeeYouInCourt campaign comes at a time of pivotal debates within international institutions—notably at the United Nations and at COP26—concerning the environmental crisis. It is a way to take part in the decisive deadlines that will mark the end of 2021, and to influence the debates.

Environmental disasters, climate change, conflicts over natural resources and the depletion of food resources have direct consequences on the right to health, the right to water, the right to food, the right to housing and, more generally, the right to a decent life. This is why FIDH is resolutely committed to the recognition and defence of the right to a healthy environment as a "new" human right in and of itself.


To see the press conference, click here.

View the communication kit.
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*Participating FIDH member organisations:
· CAJAR - José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective - Colombia
· Observatorio Ciudadano - Chile

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