At our lunch talk on 3 November, Ben Ramos, director of our partner organization PDG in the Philippines, who attended the Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague from 14-16 October, will give a first-hand account of the Tribunal and its outcomes as well as the impact of the activities of Monsanto and other agrochemical companies on small farmers in the Philippines.
The Monsanto Tribunal
The Monsanto Tribunal is an international civil society initiative that was held from 14 – 16 October 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands, with the aim of holding Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity and for ecocide. Monsanto is not the only focus of the initiative, but rather it serves as an example for the entire agro-industrial system.
During the Tribunal, five internationally renowned judges heard the testimonies of 30 witnesses and experts from five continents. The procedure was modeled on that of the International Court of Justice; all documents were submitted to the President of the Court, lawyers prepared and submitted their findings to the judges and appeared before them to plead their cases. Victims (or anyone in the audience) was able to submit documents to the judges and plaintiffs could speak at the hearings.
The aim of the Tribunal was to give a legal opinion on the environmental and health damage caused by Monsanto.
The following six questions were addressed
- Did Monsanto violate the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment?
- Die Monsanto violate the right to food?
- Did Monsanto violate the right to the highest attainable standard of health?
- Did Monsanto violate the freedom indispensable for scientific research?
- Is the firm Monsanto complicit in the commission of a war crime?
- Could the past and present activities of Monsanto constitute a crime of ecocide?
Following the Chairwoman of the Tribunal, Judge Tulkens “The questions of the access to water and to healthy food are old. Those are not new issues coming out of the mind of angry activists. Those issues, just like the right to a healthy environment are likely to become more important with climate change. It is our duty to set legal tools to face those issues. The Monsanto Tribunal is a step and a tool within this dynamic.” Nnimmo Bassey, Ambassador for the Monsanto Tribunal, said “Being an ambassador to this Tribunal is like being an ambassador to mother Earth. If mother Earth could speak, Monsanto ought to be in jail long before now. Food is a celebration, it is culture, it is life. This is a struggle not against one multinational corporation, it is a struggle for life, it is a struggle for liberty. A struggle to stop big companies from colonizing our food systems, colonizing our agriculture, holding mother Earth as a slave for their
The evidence presented in The Hague is currently being analyzed by the Tribunal judges. They will pronounce their decision in December 2016.
For more information on the Monsanto Tribunal www.monsanto-tribunal.org
Ben Ramos and the Peace and Development Group
Ben Ramos is a trained lawyer and director of the Philippines NGO Peace and Development Group (PDG) based in the town of Kabankalan in the Negros Island Region. Founded in 1987, PDG is committed to empowering rural communities to build and sustain their own organizations with a view to meeting their basic needs and working towards a just and sustainable future through a process of social transformation. Their work involves the provision of legal and organizational support to farmers’ organizations in their struggle for land, mobilizing against destructive mining and other activities that pose a threat to farming in the region. PDG also encourages farmers to change to sustainable agriculture as a healthier and economically interesting alternative to conventional, chemical-based farming systems that involve the use of hybrid and/or GMO seeds.
ASTM is supporting PDG since 2013.
Details Lunch Talk