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Ethics Tribunal: Ecuador Violated Rights

August 15, 2014

Ethics Tribunal: Ecuador Violated Rights

Tribunal marked one-year anniversary of decision to drill Yasuní

Quito, Ecuador – On Friday the Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal ruled that in the Ecuadorian government's ongoing push to drill Yasuní-ITT, one of the most biodiverse and culturally sensitive areas on the planet, the state violated several articles of its own constitution. Those include the rights of nature, the rights of indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation, the right to effective judicial protection and legal certainty, and the right to political participation.

Ecuador: The Last Push For A Chance Of A Reprieve On Yasuní

LAM - Conciousness Community Sustainability

Yasuní National Park (photo by Pedro Bermeo)

Yasuní National Park (photo by Pedro Bermeo)

"Do you agree that the Ecuadorean government should keep the crude in the ITT, known as block 43, underground indefinitely?"

This is the question that will be put to a national referendum in Ecuador if 584,000 signatures are collected (5% of registered voters in a country of 15 million people) before the deadline of 12th April 2014. Over 50% of the signatures required, have been collected so far but a concerted effort will be needed to meet the target over the next month.

The collection of signatures is being led by YASunidos, a newly formed alliance of groups seeking to overturn president Rafael Correa's abandonment of the Yasuní-ITT Initiative which is a proposal to leave crude oil unexploited in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil fields in the Yasuní National Park, thus protecting one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth as well as indigenous peoples who live within the park.

I have been following the Yasuni-ITT Initiative since I first heard about it in 2007 and was devastated to hear the announcement of its annulment in August last year – see here for my response then, and more detailed information about the Initiative: Yasuní-ITT Initiative to be scrapped.

Yasuní and oil exploitation
Scientists from all over the world have qualified Yasuní as the zone with the highest biodiversity of the world. Within one hectare of Yasuní, 644 different species of trees have been identified. There are as many different species in one hectare of Yasuní, as there are in the whole of North America.
Yasuní has been declared a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
This biosphere reserve is also the territory of the indigenous Huaorani people and some tribes who live in voluntary isolation. These are the last free human beings of Ecuador, true warriors who live in the so-called society of abundance, because they only produce the minimum to satisfy their own needs.
The foreseeable impacts of oil exploitation in the park are: contamination, deforestation, destruction of the social fabric, extinction of cultures etc. 
The Solution
The President of the Republic of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has indicated that the first option for the country is to leave the crude oil of Yasuní untouched underground.  The idea is to stimulate the national and international society to contribute in this expensive national decision. The government expects, through this mechanism, to recover 50% of the income it would have obtained by extracting the crude oil.
The State will emit certificates for the crude oil of Yasuní, and promise to keep the crude underground forever and use the funds to better protect Yasuní National Park. 

The arguments in favour of this proposal are:

  1. This proposal is the only unquestioned solution to climate change
  2. Conservation of biodiversity 
  3. Protection of the indigenous inhabitants of Yasuní
  4. Transformation of the Ecuadorian economy away from oil

Read more about this proposal...

The worst case of oil pollution on the planet
texacoChevron-Texaco in the Ecuadorian amazon region:
Chevron is responsible for creating toxic contamination 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez
"Keep the Oil in the Soil": Ecuador Seeks Money to Keep Untapped Oil Resources Underground

Democracy Now
As delegates discuss various ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen, Ecuador has a simple message: keep untapped oil in the ground. Ivonne Yanez is an environmental activist from Ecuador, one of the larger oil producing countries in Latin America. Ecuador is believed to be sitting on an oil reserve of hundreds of millions of barrels. But the oil is located in the Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Ecuador has launched a unique campaign to have the international community compensate the country in exchange for keeping the oil in the ground.

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Latest news ...

16 September 2014, 23.02
WRI In Ecuador, antimilitarist and environmental activists are currently working together in a way that allows us to imagine a post-extraction society. Since the 1970s, the country has been heavily dependent on petroleum extraction in order to finance its budget and achieve sought-after 'development', as defined by the Western world
03 July 2014, 12.11
The Guardian Ecuador's government was moving to install a power plant to exploit oil fields under the iconic Yasuni national park at the same time as pursuing a high-profile international scheme not to exploit the oil, according to government documents seen by the
27 June 2014, 15.57
The Guardian "The transport of materials will be done by helicopter and by river." That was what Ecuador's Minister for Strategic Sectors, Rafael Poveda, was quoted as saying, in the May 2014 edition of Eco-Americas, about exploiting the Ishpingo, Tiputini and Tambococha (ITT) oil fields in the Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian
05 May 2014, 15.13
The Economist ANGER and frustration boiled over outside Ecuador's National Electoral Commission (CNE) on April 30th, as efforts by environmental activists to prevent oil development in the Yasuní National Park appeared to founder on the decisions of the bureaucrats inside. "The CNE is so transparent that it won't even let us see the names of the persons or their badges," said Pedro Bermeo, one of the activists outside. Last month, a grassroots group of environmentalists called Yasunidos (its name
02 May 2014, 11.32
The Ecologist Deep in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, a gigantic open pit copper and gold mine is planned in the heart of the Shuar peoples' territory. David Dene tells the story of a growing international campaign to uphold and defend the 'Rights of Nature', in Ecuador and beyond. Planet Earth's ecological systems are under threat. We are altering the fundamental patterns of relationship which have created the planet we live on. Over the last few months I have been asked on numerous occasions how I
02 May 2014, 11.28
The Guardian Civil society groups say enough signatures have been gathered to force a referendum but authorities are interfering Indigenous people, environment groups and others hoping to force a national referendum on whether one of the world's most biodiverse regions should be exploited by oil companies fear that the Ecuadorean government is manipulating the results of a petition in order to support the president. Ecuador's proposal to leave an 846m barrels of oil in the ground under the
30 April 2014, 16.52
www.mongabay.com Environmental activists in Ecuador are accusing the country's National Electoral Council of breaking into sealed boxes to interfere with completed petitions that call for a referendum on oil drilling in the Amazonian region of Yasuní. The environmentalists had spent six months collecting signatures to oppose Rafael Correa's plans to extract oil from the Yasuní-ITT oil field in the eastern portion of the country. The petitions handed to the Council on 12 April included 757,623
19 April 2014, 00.09
The Guardian An alternative summit held during Cop 6 brought the idea of climate justice onto the global stage. How pivotal was this moment for how the climate change movement progressed? Today it is accepted, but 20-30 years ago campaigners were struggling to even get an acknowledgement that climate change was happening, let alone that it was manmade. It would have been hard to imagine that one day we might hold the developed nations responsible and start talking about redress for victims of
15 April 2014, 22.39
Amazon Watch On Saturday, April 12th, something incredibly inspiring happened in Ecuador. Yasunidos or "United for Yasuní," a civil society collective of environmentalists, artists, activists, and indigenous leaders, delivered nearly 800,000 signatures to the National Elections Commission (CBE) calling for a national referendum to decide if oil should remain under Block 43/ITT in Yasuní National Park indefinitely. A couple of months ago collecting over 600,000 signatures, the amount needed to
15 April 2014, 22.29
Environmental News Service In 2007, for the meager sum of US$3.6 billion, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa offered the world a chance to buy into a conservation plan, called the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, to save his country's easternmost sector from oil extraction. The ITT concession area, named for three sites within its boundaries – Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini – makes up about 1/12th of the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve. It represents an opportunity to conserve up to 10 percent of all
14 April 2014, 19.59
Upside Down World I'm in Quito, Ecuador. I wake up nervous at 8 a.m., getting ready to pick up a valuable envelope at the bus station that Cesar, a Yasunidos activist, mailed from Guayaquil, brought by his friend from New York on a plane, a day earlier. I am chatting with Cesar, "Did you send it to my name? Did you send it to the Santa María station?" I knew that if they sent it anywhere else, the signatures of Ecuadorian immigrants in Queens would not make it on time for the official delivery of
13 April 2014, 13.54
BBC NewsEnvironmentalists in Ecuador say they have collected enough signatures to have a referendum on whether the Yasuni National Park in the Amazon should be opened to further oil exploration. They said 727,947 people had signed their petition to have a vote - more than required by Ecuadorian law. President Rafael Correa has promised that any oil earnings from the park would be used for poverty alleviation. But critics say one of the world's most biodiverse areas would be damaged. The
07 April 2014, 10.28
New Internationalist Tim Gee investigates Ecuador's failure to 'keep the oil in the ground', and the activism that could yet secure the future of the national park. A kingfisher flits by, then a heron, an osprey, a flock of parrots. In the branches, one, two, three hoatzins: a bird species that links us to our prehistoric past. The tree-trunks are so wide they exceed the arm span of any human being. The butterflies are bigger than my hand. The bees are the size of dollar coins. This is Yasuní,
04 April 2014, 13.04
Greengrants.org On the Defense Day of Yasuní, March 5, Ecuador's YASunidos movement celebrated this pristine Amazon rainforest by announcing that it had 480,000 signatures to force a national referendum on oil exploitation in one of the most biodiverse rainforests on Earth. The group is confident it will meet its goal of at least 600,000 signatures. On October 3, 2013, the Ecuadorian government and parliament approved the exploitation of the protected area. Denouncing the decision as
29 March 2014, 13.16
Amazon Watch A global call to keep oil in the ground in Yasuni National Park Los Angeles, CA – Amazon Watch and Yasunidos, a campaign comprised of a collective of Ecuadorian and international environmental organizations and advocates, released a new PSA featuring celebrity supporters rising in solidarity with Ecuadorians to defend the controversial Yasuní National Park from oil drilling. The public service announcement, which debuts online today and will appear in Ecuadorian media, features
24 March 2014, 12.35
Mongabay.com We have always been intrigued by the Amazon rainforest with its abundant species richness and untraversed expanses. Despite our extended study of its wildlife, new species such as the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina), a bear-like carnivore hiding out in the Ecuadorian rainforest, are being identified as recently as last year. In fact, the advent of efficient DNA sequencing and genomic analysis has revolutionized how we think about species diversity. Today, scientists can examine known

Documentaries Videos

Documentaries and videos

Message from Dr. Vandana Shiva to the Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa


I am Yasuní


Yasuní-ITT. A Post-Oil Initiative