Loc: Waterloo, NY
The verdict is in...
Find here the full text and the summary of the advisory legal opinion delivered by the Monsanto Tribunal judges in The Hague on April 18th 2017. (It is only four pages, link below. Below are a excerpts from each question posed to the Tribunal.)
The International Monsanto Tribunal is a unique "Opinion Tribunal" convened by civil society to clarify the legal obligations and consequences of some of the activities of the Monsanto Company.
During the hearings that took place on October 15th and 16th in The Hague, judges heard testimonies related to the six questions posed to the Tribunal. The ensuing legal opinion delivered by the Tribunal includes a legal analysis of the questions asked, with respect to both existing international law, and to prospective law in order to improve international human rights and environmental law.
The advisory opinion is structured in three parts. The introductory section details the conditions within which the Tribunal was initiated. The middle section examines the six questions posed to the Tribunal. Looking at the broader picture, the final section tackles the growing asymmetry between the rights conceded to corporations and the constraints imposed upon them to protect local communities and/or future generations, wherever corporations operate.
Excepts from...Summary of the advisory opinion of the International Monsanto Tribunal - Delivered on the 18th of April 2017 in The Hague, Netherlands
Question 1, as posed to the Tribunal, related to alleged infringement on the right to a healthy environment.
"Based on the above findings and to answer Question 1, the Tribunal concludes that Monsanto has engaged in practices which have negatively impacted the right to a healthy environment."
Question 2 concerned the alleged infringement on the right to food as recognized in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in Articles 24.2(c) and (e) and 27.3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in Articles 25(f) and 28.1 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
"In response to Question 2, the Tribunal concludes that Monsanto has engaged in practices that have negatively impacted the right to food. Monsanto’s activities affect food availability for individuals and communities and interfere with the ability of individuals and communities to feed themselves directly or to choose non-genetically modified seeds. In addition, genetically modified seeds are not always affordable for farmers and threaten biodiversity. Monsanto’s activities and products cause damage to soil, water and to the environment more generally. The Tribunal concludes that food sovereignty is also affected and underlines the cases in which genetic contamination of fields forced farmers to pay royalties to Monsanto or even to abandon their non-GMO crops due to this contamination. There is indeed an infringement on the right to food because of aggressive marketing on GMOs which can force farmers to buy new seeds every year. The dominant agro-industrial model can be criticized even more strongly because other models - such as agroecology - exist that respect the right to food."
Question 3 concerned the alleged infringement on the right to the highest attainable standard of health of everyone can reach, as recognized in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, or the right of child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, as recognized by Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
"The Tribunal concludes that Monsanto has engaged in practices that negatively impacted the right to health."
Question 4 concerned the alleged infringement on the freedom indispensable for scientific research, as guaranteed by Article 15(3) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the freedoms of thought and expression guaranteed in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"In response to Question 4, the Tribunal concludes that Monsanto's conduct is negatively affecting the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research. Conduct such as intimidation, discrediting independent scientific research when it raises serious questions about the protection of the environment and public health, suborning false research reports, putting pressure on governments are transgressing the freedom indispensable for scientific research. This abuse is exacerbated by exposure to health and accompanying environmental risks, which deprive society the possibility to safeguard fundamental rights. Taking direct measures to silence scientists or attempting to discredit their work constitutes conduct that abuses the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research and the right to freedom of expression. This negatively affects the right to information."
Question 5 concerned the alleged complicity in war crimes as defined in Article 8(2) of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), by providing Agent Orange.
“Because of the current state of international law and the absence of specific evidence, the Tribunal cannot give any definitive answer to the question it was asked. Nevertheless, it seems that Monsanto knew how its products would be used and had information on the consequences for human health and the environment. The Tribunal is of the view that, would the crime of Ecocide be added in International law, the reported facts could fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”
Question 6 asked the Tribunal if the activities of Monsanto could constitute a crime of ecocide, understood as causing serious damage or destroying the environment, so as to significantly and durably alter the global commons or ecosystem services upon which certain human groups rely.
“The Tribunal assesses that international law should now precisely and clearly assert the protection of the environment and the crime of ecocide. The Tribunal concludes that if such a crime of ecocide were recognized in international criminal law, the activities of Monsanto could possibly constitute a crime of ecocide. Several of the company’s activities may fall within this infraction, such as the manufacture and supply of glyphosate-based herbicides to Colombia in the context of its plan for aerial application on coca crops, which negatively impacted the environment and the health of local populations; the large-scale use of dangerous agrochemicals in industrial agriculture; and the engineering, production, introduction and release of genetically engineered crops. Severe contamination of plant diversity, soils and waters would also fall within the qualification of ecocide. Finally, the introduction of persistent organic pollutants such as PCB into the environment causing widespread, long-lasting and severe environmental harm and affecting the right of the future generations could fall within the qualification of ecocide as well.”
In the third part of the advisory opinion, the Tribunal insists on the widening gap between international human rights law and corporate accountability. It calls for two urgent Actions.