Sunday, October 16, is World Food Day. It’s also the day that the International Monsanto Tribunal will conclude, in The Hague, Netherlands—and mark the beginning of justice for Earth and its inhabitants.
Monsanto and its friends in the pesticide industry will try to characterize this historic citizens’ initiative as a “kangaroo court.”
But those of us who are already here, preparing for the opening of the People’s Assembly (October 14), and the formal Tribunal (October 15-16), can attest to the fact that there are no kangaroos in sight. There are only distinguished judges and lawyers, people who have been harmed by Monsanto’s products, and concerned citizens from all over the world.
Citizens’ Tribunals are not mock trials. They have a long history of bringing justice to issues where governments either act corruptly or fail to act. It is the legal right of citizens to ensure the carriage of justice, when governments do not.
The Tribunal will be based on the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” adopted by the United Nations in 2011. It will be an international court of lawyers and judges that will assess the potential criminal liability of Monsanto for damages inflicted on human health and the environment.
The court will also rely on the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002, and it will consider whether to reform international criminal law to include crimes against the environment, or ecocide, as a prosecutable criminal offense. The International Criminal Court, established in 2002 in The Hague, has determined that prosecuting ecocide as a criminal offense is the only way to guarantee the rights of humans to a healthy environment and the right of nature to be protected.
While the Tribunal can’t impose penalties, its final verdicts will serve as the foundation for future legal cases against not only Monsanto, but also Bayer, Syngenta, Dow and others. The panel of judges will issue their advisory opinions on the six terms of reference within a month or so, after they’ve had sufficient time to weigh the testimony they will hear during the two-day Tribunal.
This initiative, long overdue, follows on the heels of a new “state of the science” review released this week by PAN International. The review, which presents a large body of research documenting the adverse human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides, calls for a global “phase-out” of Monsanto’s Roundup.
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