We fight for justice in fields, jungles, and cities– not just courtrooms. Through powerful campaigns, often carried out by our schools’ alumni and members of our legal networks, we raise public awareness on human rights and environmental justice issues around the globe. By training and connecting legal advocates and frontline campaigners, we can reach even the most remote communities struggling against corporate power and earth rights violations.
Our work in the field complements our training work in the classroom and our legal actions in the courtroom by equipping local communities, lawyers, and civil society leaders with the advocacy and legal skills they need to tackle their communities’ greatest challenges.
We bring together human rights and environmental activists, affected communities, and concerned individuals to build lasting partnerships, raise public awareness around earth rights issues, and take on corporate abusers no matter where they do business.
We also hold corporations accountable in the court of public opinion by documenting and exposing their human rights, labor, and environmental practices.
We focus on these areas:
Some say that human-caused climate change has already harmed the planet sufficiently that there is no going back. Today, we’re seeing more severe draughts, floods and storms with greater frequency. We all suffer the consequences of climate change, but poor communities, especially in developing nations, suffer the most. ERI attacks the climate change problem by training lawyers and legal advocates to be aware of dangers, impacts, and legal tools relevant to climate change. We publicize the risks of climate change, stop climate-destroying projects and fight alongside indigenous peoples who often hold the frontline against the impacts and causes of global warming.
Corporations across the globe are increasingly gaining more rights, yet have fewer and fewer responsibilities. ERI challenges the systems that allow corporations to exercise power and claim rights without accountability because the human cost of this status quo is unacceptable. We confront current systems of destructive development and exploitation and encourage structures that operate according to principles of human rights, environmental protection and justice.
Large-scale infrastructure and extractive industry projects like dams and highways in the Amazon and Greater Mekong basins are often poorly planned, plagued by corruption and move forward with limited opportunities for affected communities to participate. There are well-documented cases of projects reducing food supplies, displacing people without adequate compensation and when communities object government and business stakeholders repress them. ERI helps communities to access project information, obtain independent scientific analysis, facilitate community research and work with lawyers to ensure the projects meet local and international laws and standards.
Many communities around the globe live off their land: hunting, fishing, gathering of fruits and nuts, and small scale agriculture fulfill most if not all their necessities. When families are driven off their land, through force or because the destruction of their natural habitats forces them to migrate, can be devastating. ERI prevents and remedies land rights violations of communities at risk by training legal advocates in affected communities, and by holding corporations accountable in courts of justice.
Extraction of natural resources, such as oil, gas, and minerals, can be a lucrative business. For people living in resource rich areas, it can be deadly. People who live in areas where extractive industries operate often face poverty and human rights abuses. The industries exacerbate human rights abuses in many countries by making lands uninhabitable by polluting the environment. ERI works with communities suffering from extractive industry-related abuses to bring them remedies through the use of innovative legal and campaign strategies. We protect the rights of people by ensuring that strong standards are in place and communities have the knowledge and skills to use these standards to protect their rights.
Earth Rights Defenders
An earth rights defender is someone who, individually or collectively, promotes human and environmental rights — “earth rights.” Earth rights defenders expose violations and fight for the victims. Unfortunately, corrupt governments and corporations don’t just sit back and watch. They will often retaliate by silencing, suing, and even killing earth rights defenders. ERI is here to help them. We use legal cases, policy reform, training, and legal advocacy tools to protect these individuals, communities, and organizations. In December 2018, we launched a global protection strategy for earth rights defenders.