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Dog-HeartThe Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide,  the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, and University of Oregon’s LL.M. Program in Environmental and Natural Resources Law present Jamaican environmental advocate Diana McCaulay as she reads from her new novel DOG-HEART
Thursday, April 15
7:00 p.m.
Lewis Lounge
U of O School of Law – 4th Floor
1515 Agate Street
FREE and open to the public
Read Diana’s blog:

ELAW scientist Meche Lu (left) and IDEA attorney Raquel Gutierrez at the Arcediano Dam site showing destroyed homes

Sometimes it takes just one person to change the world.  Mrs. Lupita Lara is one of those people who took a stand and changed the world for her community with the help of ELAW and our partners in Mexico.

In southern Mexico, plans were made to build the Arcediano Dam on the Santiago River to provide water for the residents of Guadalajara.  Arcediano has been the subject of national and international outrage because of the scope of the environmental and human rights impacts.  Not only would the building of the dam destroy sensitive ecosystems, but there were significant health risks associated with the water flowing to Guadalajara.

Despite the risks, Mrs. Lara refused to leave her home, which was in the way of the building of the dam.   She had lived there with her sister and her elderly mother (who has since passed away) for many years, and when her neighbors accepted small remuneration to relocate, Mrs. Lara stayed and fought the project. She found an ally in Raquel Gutierrez, an attorney with the Instituto De Derecho Ambiental (IDEA, A.C.).

Raquel filed actions in every tribunal and agency with potential influence on the process (including the environmental commission created by the North American Free Trade Agreement) on behalf of the community and Mrs. Lara.  Early on, she enlisted the help of ELAW attorneys to help build her arguments against the dam. ELAW Staff Scientist Meche Lu reviewed the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and traveled to the area in 2004 to meet with Raquel and community members, and observe first-hand the proposed project site.  Meche found major flaws in the EIA because it failed to adequately assess the environmental risks associated with the project.

Despite concerns about the project, it was given preliminary approval in 2003.  However, for these past six years, Mrs. Lara and IDEA continued battling, and on December 11th, the Mexican Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources revoked its 2003 authorization for the project because of the environmental havoc it would have caused.

This is a huge victory for Mrs. Lara, IDEA, ELAW and, most importantly, the people of Mexico who will be spared the environmental, health and human rights violations that would have occurred by the building of the Arcediano Dam.

Grassroots advocates meet in Guatemala

Greetings from Antigua!

ELAW partners from throughout Central America are gathering in Antigua, Guatemala this week.  The meeting, organized by ELAW and our partners at the Alianza de Derecho Ambiental y Agua (ADA2) is a gathering of grassroots advocates in Central America who are working to strengthen the rule of law and protect the environment.

Over the 3-day gathering, advocates will share experiences and work together to develop new strategies to address issues such as preserving marine and forest resources, promoting environmental justice, and protecting the climate.

This morning, advocates from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua heard from Dr. Luis Zurita, Vice-Minister for the Environment for Guatemala, who described the challenges of solving the many environmental issues in Guatemala.  Ruth Solano, an attorney with Justicia Para la Naturaleza in Costa Rica, described a new environmental legal aid program developed by the bar association in conjunction with the University of Costa Rica that assists any community member who wants to report an environmental problem.   The afternoon session featured an extensive discussion with Mario Mancilla, the Technical Assistant to the CAFTA-DR Secretariat for Environmental Matters, about using the citizen enforcement mechanism of the CAFTA-DR trade agreement.

ELAW staff members Lori Maddox, Jen Gleason, and Liz Mitchell are attending the meeting and will be sending updates throughout the week.


by Liz Mitchell

John & SvitlanaELAW Board Member John Bonine and Svitlana Kravchenko were recently featured on The Hub by Witness in their ongoing series  Environmental Rights = Human Rights.

John & Svitlana recently co-authored a law school casebook:  Human Rights and the Environment:  Cases, Law, and Policy which “shows how international and national court cases in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas have begun to interpret treaties, national constitutions, and human rights legislation to protect the environment through the recognition of rights.”

crude the movieCRUDE: The Real Price of Oil opened in New York.  This film documents the fight by ELAW partner Pablo Fajardo and others to remediate the damage done to their community members and the environment in northern Ecuador.  CRUDE shows the damage done by ChevronTexaco over the last 30+ years and the community’s efforts to receive justice.

The New York Times film critic A.O. Scott had this to say:

“Too many filmmakers seem to think that a noble cause, a good heart and a digital video camera are all that is required for an effective documentary. Luckily, Mr. Berlinger has both a strong narrative instinct and a keen eye for incongruous, evocative and powerful images.”  Read the entire review here.

CRUDE opens in other cities around the country over the next few weeks.  The schedule is on the film’s website:

diana Mewerimbe screen shotELAW Partner Diana Mewerimbe is featured on The Hub at!

Logging in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea is an all too common occurrence.   Using permits that are often irregular, companies log areas of the forest to make a profit while traditional landowners struggle to keep their homes and livelihoods.  Diana Mewerimbe works with Papua New Guinea’s Environmental Law Centre to help landowners fight for their rights against the logging companies. In this interview, she discusses her own personal decision to jump from practicing law in the private sector to practicing public interest law, and also explains why human rights cannot be disassociated from environmental rights.

Click on the photo of Diana to watch her speak about environmental and human rights in Papua New Guinea.

Danielle A-crop ELAW partner Danielle Andrade was the subject of an interview on The Hub by Witness speaking about the intersection between environmental rights and human rights.

The Hub says:

As the legal director of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), Danielle Andrade supports local Jamaican communities, helping them to assert their rights.  In particular, she works with these communities to stand up to multi-national corporations who want to mine on their lands. In this interview, Danielle discusses her work in Cockpit Country, a densely forested region that is home to a community threatened by a mining operation. Danielle paints a human portrait of Cockpit Country, describing its people, its struggles, and ultimately its perseverance.

Rugemeleza The series Environmental Rights = Human Rights on The Hub by Witness continues . . . ELAW partner Rugemeleza Nshala is featured this week.

Rugemeleza Nshala is a Tanzanian lawyer with the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT) where he works to defend the public interest against encroaching territorial exploitation by multinational corporations. In this interview, Rugemeleza outlines the various environmental and public interest issues affecting Tanzania, from failing wildlife preservation programs to a foreign sector monopoly of the national mining industry. Rugemeleza also articulates an argument that challenges anyone who still believes that widespread environmental degradation is not a violation of one’s personal human rights.

Lollie on The Hub

In another installment of The Hub’s series focusing on ELAW partners talking about the link between environmental rights and human rights, Maria Ronely “Lolly” Bisquera-Sheen is interviewed about the work that her organization (Tanggol Kalikasan – Defense of Nature) is doing to fight pollution in the Philippines.  Check it out by clicking on the photo above or clicking here:

In the Philippines, a government agency was tasked with investigating a waste treatment company that, rather than processing the waste, had been dumping it raw on agricultural land, causing great destruction. However, the agency faced a significant challenge: lack of experience with specific investigative and legal techniques for examining environmental degradation. That’s where Maria Ronely “Lolly” Bisquera-Sheen and the organization she heads, Tanggol Kalikasan, come in, providing the assistance such governmental agencies need to fight the green fight. Tanggol Kalikasan’s mission is to empower communities and institutions to manage their ecosystem through law and other creative mechanisms. Its programs include capacity building, support for environmental law enforcement, public environmental legal education, and policy advocacy. In this interview with WITNESS – part of our special ELAW series – Lolly talks about this case and the general landscape of environmental justice and human rights in the Philippines.

belaELAW partners at the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) contributed to Sandy Tolan’s moving story about child workers in the shipyards of Bangladesh, “Babu’s Story: A Child Worker In The Shipyards Of Bangladesh.”  ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik provided background information to the reporter for the story.


“Did anybody ever tell you,” I asked the child worker sitting on the cement floor, “‘You’re only 13, you shouldn’t have to work like this’?”

Ismael “Babu” Hussein paused to reflect on the question. All around him were other kids, sitting in the small airless room that was shared by several worker families who sleep there in shifts. Like Babu, these boys, some as young as 12, do the risky, often terrifying work of breaking down ships by hand on the beaches of Chittagong, Bangladesh. The boys are apprentices to older “masters” who operate the blowtorches that cut the steel walls into six-by-ten-foot plates, and thus turn useless old tankers and cargo ships into usable scrap.

Read the full story on the Huffington Post.

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