EarthRights International (ERI)

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EarthRights International (ERI)

EarthRights International (ERI) combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of earth rights. We define earth rights as those rights that demonstrate the connection between human well-being and a sound environment, and include the right to a healthy environment, the right to speak out and act to protect the environment, and the right to participate in development decisions. We specialize in fact-finding and legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training for grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns. Through these strategies, ERI seeks to end earth rights abuses, and to promote and protect earth rights.

The Caipirinha Foundation supports the work of ERI, along with its co-counsel, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), aimed at holding the oil industry in Nigeria accountable for its role in the repression and violence suffered by the people of the Niger Delta. On June 8, 2009, Royal Dutch/Shell agreed to a landmark, $15.5 million settlement of the human rights cases known collectively as Wiwa v. Shell. ERI and CCR filed the suits against the oil company on behalf of relatives of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni activists. In 1995, nine prominent activists were executed for their nonviolent organizing against Shell's activities in the Ogoni homeland in the Niger Delta.

In the 1990s, Nigerians increasingly began to mobilize against the environmental degradation that Shell has steadily wrought on agricultural land and the local water supply since beginning oil production in Ogonliland in 1958. Shell responded by providing arms and financing to government security forces that it knew were violently repressing demonstrations. In 1995, Royal Dutch Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary colluded with Nigeria’s military government to bring about the arrest and execution of the “Ogoni 9,” leaders of the nonviolent Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). The internationally renowned writer and activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, was among the nine activists executed. It took 14 years of determined campaigning on behalf of Saro-Wiwa's son and other activists to finally achieve justice through the June 2009 legal victory. In addition to the case, ERI and CCR have launched a large-scale, international advocacy campaign to call attention to the devastating role Shell has played in the economic and environmental destruction in Nigeria and in Ogoni.

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