TITLE OF PROPOSAL PEOPLES’ TRIBUNALS: A PEDAGOGICAL AND SYMBOLIC WEAPON IN THE STRUGGLE FOR ETHICAL EARTHLAWS
Capitalism brings estrangement of people from themselves, from others and from the environment. It is about profits in a world of corporate power.
While some critics contend that capitalism is simply without ethics, our position is that ethical codes under capitalist systems are essentially created to restrain the threat of systemic capitalist anarchy and disorder that interferes with profitmaking and can aid in the destabilization of capitalist political economies. Thus there are ethical standards for the private sphere, for business sectors and in governance institutions.
The creation and implementation of such standards, like other normative standards such as law, religion, etc, are the result of more than reasoned discourse but also political manoeuvring. Such standards are sites of struggle. Therefore we must develop a strategy for that struggle.
One tactic we recommend involves Peoples’ Tribunals (PTs) which have already been used in Australia on a number of issues including the custodianship of the environment by Aboriginal peoples. PTs can serve as (1) a part of the educational process by which people learn of and about Earth ethics, and (2) as foreshadowing an alternative method of dealing with unethical behaviour.
Peoples Tribunals are opinion-forming institutions that arise out of the concern by a community that the state is failing to protect their rights. They take evidence, pass judgement and make recommendations for change
The pedagogical task. Some basic materials, courses would be produced and used in different levels of educational institutions and within the networks of community groups and NGOs.
The symbolic task. We should continue to develop PTs on environmental issues so that we have a “deterrent” mechanism whereby the behaviour of corporations and the state can be the subject of public scrutiny and ethical standards reinforced.
Former Head, Macquarie University Law School, served as a panellist on Peoples’ Tribunals on conditions in the garment industry in Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka; violence and the social crisis in Mexico, and human rights violations in the Philippines; two in Australia, including the Rights of Nature Tribunal, 2016. He has written numerous papers on the progressive possibilities Peoples’ Tribunals present for social movement strategies. Now formally retired, he is Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Macquarie University. His other current research interests include the worldwide epidemic of attacks on lawyers, and the so-called drug war in the Philippines.
Kristian holds an LLB and LLM from the University of Sydney, and is enrolled in a PhD with the School of Law at Western Sydney University titled The War Power in 21st Century Australia: A Comparative Constitutional Analysis. He has taught law at a tertiary level since 2009. He also possesses extensive curriculum development experience, as both a law teacher and an education development manager involved in preparing accreditation and re-accreditation submissions to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Authority. Kristian is currently teaching at Western Sydney University and the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School of Torrens University.
Morgan is currently a Community Liaison Officer with the NSW Department of Education. His activism includes non-violent direct action to stop logging of old growth forest in East Gippsland and participation in various community actions to raise awareness surrounding sand mining, nuclear power/nuclear waste dumps, coal power and export, and Aboriginal and international indigenous sovereignty.