Letter from the Directors
Fifteen years. That’s the milestone that we observed at EarthRights International in 2010. We didn’t have a party to mark this important event, although we thought about it. After all, who doesn’t need an excuse to celebrate in this world that seems so often plagued by bad news? Given the incredible suffering of the individuals and communities that we serve—our clients in Peru, India, Nigeria and Colombia, the EarthRights School students and alumni from Burma and the Mekong region, and countless others—we decided, instead, to redouble our efforts in their honor.
So we marked our 15th year by looking back at our history, our growth, our accomplishments and our disappointments. We took all of that experience and those lessons learned and launched an ambitious and exciting strategic plan that paves the way for EarthRights to achieve its vision to end earth rights abuses worldwide. “How in the world do you think you can do that?” you ask. “Read our strategic plan,” we answer. But you can also get an idea by looking through the pages of this annual report. We hope you’ll be as excited as we are, to see how much we accomplished just in the last year alone.
EarthRights aims to end human rights and environmental abuses by shifting the imbalance of power in the global economy that currently favors corporate and government elites at the expense of people and the planet. The combined force of our training, legal work and campaigns have helped achieve fundamental transformation of the current global economic system that enables these elites to externalize the social, cultural and environmental costs of their operations.
Such fundamental change is an ambitious goal. But our clients, students and alumni— indeed all of us—should demand nothing less. And we’ve already come a long way to making that shared vision a reality. When we started back in 1995, we were living in a world where corporations could benefit from human rights abuses like slavery, rape and torture, while working in countries like Burma, Nigeria, or Colombia. We were told that this was business as usual and we were crazy to imagine that another world was possible. Now we see a world where these companies bear significant legal risks, economic burdens and reputational damage if they ignore the rights of people and destroy their homelands. We are well on the way to helping create a world where the social, financial and legal ramifications of human rights and environmental abuses deter corporations from engaging in such abhorrent behaviors in the first place and where the voices of local peoples are brought to bear on the development decisions that impact their lives.
And we believe that is something to celebrate.
Ka Hsaw Wa, Marie, Chana, Katie