1. Mer de Glace case – France
The Mer de Glace (literally “the sea of ice”) is a French glacier, located on the Mont-Blanc massif. It is 30 km² wide, 12 km long and 300 metres thick, making it the largest glacier in France and the third-largest in the Alps.
This ice giant is however threatened: climate change is causing it to thaw rapidly. Each year, the glacier shortens by 30 to 40 metres and loses 4 to 5 metres of its downstream thickness. Since 1850, the Mer de Glace has withdrawn by 2 kilometres. Scientists predict it could withdraw by another 1.2 km by 2040.
Humans are causing the Mer de Glace to disappear. It is urgent to recognize its right to existence. The numbers exposed before us are undeniable. Each year the glacier gets smaller and thinner. Its very nature is transformed: sediments are accumulating, lakes are appearing. The glacier’s right to exist is directly threatened.
Recognizing the Mer de Glace’s rights to exist and regenerate is protecting fundamental rights for both humans and non-humans
The Mer de Glace’s right to regenerate must also be acknowledged.
2. Illegal gold mining Case – French Guiana
Human activities linked to illegal gold mining have disastrous consequences for the Maroni River and its tributaries. An estimated 10,000 illegal gold miners are present in the area.
Illegal artisanal gold miners are responsible for the destruction of thousands of km of rivers whose turbidity and mercury content lead to the disappearance of flora and fauna. Mercury is released into nature and poisons all ecosystems
Thus, the right of aquatic ecosystems to conservation, to the regeneration of their life cycles and to restoration is undermined by illegal gold trafficking which must, therefore, be completely eradicated from the territory of French Guiana.
3. Lake Vättern Case – Sweden
The aquatic ecosystems in lake Vättern are threatened by past, ongoing and planned activities. These include activities such as a zinc mine leaking heavy metals into the lake, planned mining for rare earth minerals, a large paper mill and the Swedish defence forces military use of the lake for shooting exercise, both from the air and by heavy artillery from the shores.
The communities living in the lake Vättern area have mobilised against the environmental destruction of Vättern and surrounding ecosystems for many years. Aktion Rädda Vättern (ARV) and Urbergsgruppen Grenna are two of many organisations and networks which have continued to protect Vättern and surrounding ecosystems in the wake of pollution of the lake by corporations and the Swedish state.
In 2018-2019 Swedish Earth Rights Lawyers drafted a declaration of the rights of lake Vättern with assistance from the U.S. based organisation Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). The declaration was adopted by the Earth Rights Conference 2019 and it is the foundation of an emerging coalition for the rights of lake Vättern.
4. Balkan rivers small dams ecocide – Serbia
The Balkan rivers are some of the last free flowing and wild rivers of Europe and are a hotspot for biodiversity with unique ecosystems and wildlife
The massive proliferation of small hydroelectric dams in Serbia and the Balkans, devastates native biodiversity, degrades the health of mountain ecosystems that depend on the rivers, and impairs the natural functions of rivers and watersheds, amongst other severe impacts, resulting in violations of the rights of impacted rivers and watersheds
The effects of river destruction by the small hydro-electric power plants are numerous like
- Transformation of the whole river systems into a series of reservoirs that need to be flushed
- Breaking up of fish migration corridors
- Prevention of fish spawning
- Removal of vegetation and trees and excavations for dam foundations significantly
- At the water intake facility of the dam, before entering the pipeline, the water is additionally left without dissolved oxygen, which further impairs the quality of the water and the aquatic life often suffocates.
- Only a little or no water trickles in the open flow of the watercourse, which greatly or even completely destroys the complete biodiversity
Currently and following the Tribunal Verdict, there is a plan for the proposal for the Restorative Justice process for the 3 featured rivers on the Mt Kopaonik in south Serbia
5. Red Mud Case – France
The factory of Gardanne (Bouches du Rhône), is producing alumina, a material used to make electronic components, ceramics and refractory material. This activity emits toxic waste full of heavy metals and heightened radioactivity – the famous “red muds”.
Since 1967, the factory discharges those red muds with a state authorization, at the heart of the Calanques National Park
Wastes now cover up the bed of Cassidaigne Canyon, therefore preventing all forms of life, destroying the habitat of settled species such as oysters, mussels, sea urchin, etc. Researchers and fishermen also observed an undeniable impact on the presence of fishes in the area
This situation constitutes a violation of the law of the sea, among which:
- the right to live and exist
- the right to the protection of its vital cycles and processes without human disturbances
- the right to water as a source of life
- the right to be free from all contamination, pollution or toxic wastes.
This is a major case of ecocide.
Thanks to a complaint filed by the ZEA associations, fishermen of the region and locals, the public prosecutor took on the case. Examining magistrates from the tribunal of Marseille’s health department are now in charge of the investigation.