Green Interview with Maxine Burkett — and an Emerging Global Treaty!
Maxine Burkett, our latest Green Interview, is out to help the most vulnerable human communities face the endless crisis of constantly rising seas. She’s a professor of law at the University of Hawaii, and in our newest Green Interview, she talks about the small Pacific island nations which are shrinking and vanishing, possibly forcing entire national populations to migrate. But how? Where? And is a nation still a nation if it has no territory? Maxine Burkett’s proposals draw heavily on the concept of “transitional justice” – the mechanisms by which, for instance, South Africa pulled itself past the bitter conflicts of apartheid. It’s a fascinating approach to a crisis that most of us haven’t begun to think about. The interview is here.
And in July, we were electrified to learn that French President Emmanuel Macron has launched The Global Pact for the Environment, a new United Nations treaty to incorporate fundamental environmental rights in legal systems everywhere in the world. Other supporters include Ban Ki-Moon, Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Irish president Mary Robinson. The initiative grew out of the 2015 climate talks in Paris.
If the treaty is adopted by the UN, it will recognize environmental rights at national and international levels, allowing those rights to be used in the courts of all signatory nations. The draft pact – which is still being refined – draws on earlier statements of environmental law including the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, the 1982 World Charter for Nature, the 1992 Rio Declaration and the Earth Charter. President Macron will present it to the UN General Assembly in September. Read more about the pact here.
Environmental rights – and Canada’s lack of them — have preoccupied The Green Interview crew for five years now. We’re elated that these fundamental human rights are now moving through the legislative process at the Parliament of Canada. Talk to your MP about it — there will be a vote this fall. And now these rights are coming before the UN as well.
Meanwhile, our own film Green Rights: The Human Right to a Healthy World has become an “Official Selection” at the Docs Without Borders Film Festival competition (DWBFF), an online festival with distributor contact. The film will be screened by the Council of Canadians in Tatamagouche, NS on August 24, and we’re working on a set of public screenings for the autumn as well.
Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo. The idea that we all have an obligation to cherish the planet, and that the courts should recognize that obligation – that’s a rich and powerful idea. And this, we may hope, is its time.