Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Message to Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Michael H. Posner
Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Posner,

As a broad coalition of organizations representing affected communities from Alaska to Florida, we are writing to you on this International Human Rights Day to bring to your attention a critical human rights issue taking place here in the United States and around the world: that of human rights violations perpetrated by the six largest agrochemical transnational corporations. These corporations - in particular the six largest pesticide corporations - Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, and BASF - continue to produce, market, and profit from highly hazardous pesticides that have serious human health, livelihood, and environmental impacts, and to do so in direct violation of the precepts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human rights instruments.

In December of last year, affected communities around the world who have been harmed by these six corporations presented their cases of human rights violations to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) Session on Agrochemical Transnational Corporations. They included:Voices from Arctic Indigenous Peoples, who have had their ways of life, including their traditional foods, practices, and livelihoods, contaminated and threatened by pesticide pollution that travels to the Arctic from around the world through a process known as global distillation;

Voices from the Midwestern United States, where farmers’ livelihoods are being threated by the Monsanto corporation’s harassment and persecution of farmers; And voices from Florida, where African-American farmworkers who used to work on vegetable farms around one of the most polluted lakes in the United States are suffering from multiple chronic illnesses while still awaiting aid for the egregious health harms they suffered, years after these farms were shut down for their enormous impact on the environment and wildlife; as well as dozens of other cases around the world. The full indictment brought forward to the PPT is attached here. 

After hearing these cases, an esteemed jury of international experts pronounced these six corporations – along with the governments of the United States, Switzerland, and Germany - guilty of “gross, widespread, and systematic violations” of human rights. This verdict (attached) was handed down one year ago, on December 6, 2011. We have yet to see the US government act to protect the rights of its people and of the global community from violations by corporations based right here in the United States.

We look now to your office as the bearer of an immense responsibility - protecting and promoting democracy, human rights, and the rights of labor - and urge you to take decisive action based on your mandate and the global human rights crises that are clearly being perpetrated daily by the pesticide industry, to signal that the US will play a leadership role in addressing these egregious violations.

We therefore request a meeting with you and your key staff to discuss the role of your office in addressing this pressing issue at the national and international level. We also respectfully request a written response to this letter by January 10, 2013 (please address to Devika Ghai at (devika@panna.org). We look forward to working with you.

Signed and endorsed by the following governments and organizations:

Eddie Ungott, Tribal President, Native Village of Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska; USA
Mitchell Kiyuklook, Tribal President, Native Village of Savoonga, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska;

Pamela Miller, Vi Waghiyi, and Heather McCausland, Alaska Community Action on Toxics;

Maria Elena Rosa, Alianza por una major Calidad de Vida; Chile
Alicia Koutsoulieris, Amnesty International Chapter 519; International
Rahmat Ajiguna, Asian Peasants Coalition; Asia
Lisa Arkin, Beyond Toxics; USA
Paige Tomaselli, Center for Food Safety; USA
Lucille Bertuccio, Center for Sustainable Living; USA
Denise Diaz, Central Florida Jobs with Justice; USA
Barbara Warren, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition; USA
Kathleen A. Curtis, LPN, Clean and Healthy New York; USA
John Harris, Community Alliance for Positive Solutions; Australia
Suad Eltayeb Ahmed, Community Development Association; Sudan
Y. Armando Nieto, Community Food & Justice Coalition; USA
Thomas Kerns, PhD, Environment and Human Rights Advisory; USA
Jeannie Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida; USA
Maria Rodriguez, Florida Immigrant Coalition; USA
JoAnn Lo, Food Chain Workers Alliance; USA
Lauren Ornelas, Food Empowerment Project; USA
Carleen Pickard, Global Exchange; USA
Masahiro Watarida, Globalization Watch Hiroshima; Japan
Rick Hind, Greenpeace; International
Naji Kodeih, PhD, IndyACT; Lebanon
Laura Carro-Klingholz, PhD, Initiative Mexiko; Mexico / Germany
Andrea Carmen, International Indian Treaty Council; International
Manny Calonzo & Olga Speranskaya, IPEN*; International
Sena Alouka, Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement; Togo
Jose T. Bravo, Just Transition Alliance; USA
Wilfredo Marbella, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilpinas (KMP); Philippines
Navina Khanna, Live Real; USA
Gregory Schell, Migrant Farmworker Justice Project, Florida Legal Services, Inc.; USA
Dorothy Felix, Mossville Environmental Action Now; USA
Betty Obbo, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE); Uganda
Zenaida Soriano, National Peasant Women Network (AMIHAN); Philippines
Susan JunFish, Parents for a Safer Environment; USA
Sarojeni Rengam, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific; Asia and the Pacific
Carina Weber, Pesticide Action Network Germany; Germany
Devika Ghai, Pesticide Action Network North America; USA
Martha Dina Arguello, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles; USA
Patricia Gutierrez, Red de Acción a los Agrotoxicos de Venezuela; Venezuela
Javier Souza Casadinho, Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternatives de América Latina
(RAPAL); Latin AmericaFernando Bejarano, Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternatives de Mexico (RAPAM);

Rachel Rosenberg, Safer Pest Control Project; USA
Debbie Barker, Save Our Seeds, International; International
Joan Mencher, PhD, The Second Chance Foundation; USA
Shiela Davis, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition; USA
Hải Võ, South Asians and Asian Pacific Islanders for Sustainable Agriculture; USA
Desmond D’Sa, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance; South Africa
Joanna Welborn, Student Action with Farmworkers; USA
Ana Duncan Pardo, Toxic Free North Carolina; USA
Rita Lucey, United Nations Association of the United States of America, Chapter 260; USA

*IPEN: The International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) is a global network of more than 700 public interest non-governmental organizations working together for the elimination of persistent organic pollutants, on an expedited yet socially equitable basis.

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