Re: Is climate change a human rights issue?
Gillian Caldwell is the Executive Director of WITNESS, an international human rights organization that provides training and support to local groups to use video in their human rights advocacy capaigns. Caldwell was a Co-Director of the Global Survival Network (now WildAid), where she coordinated the two-year undercover investigation into the trafficking of women in Russia that culminated in her 1997 film, Bought and Sold. She is the leader of the Witness to Truth video project in Sierra Leone that urges the government of Sierra Leone to implement TRC recommendations. Caldwell was the reipient of the 2000 Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation Leadership award and has been named one of 40 Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs by the Schwab Foundation, a 2003 Tech Laureate by the Tech Museum, and a Special Partner by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Caldwell received her BA from Harvard University and her JD in human rights law from Georgetown University. Her videos have been shown as evidence in legal proceedings, such as the international war crimes investigation against Slobodan Milosevic, in the Sierra Leone Truth Commission proceedings, and at the UN. Ideas recorded on: 8/13/07
I mean there’s already, in the context of discussions about health or access to clean water, you know, or people displaced by the wars over natural resources in various countries particularly in Africa . . . Human rights organizations are often dealing with these issues, but they aren’t framing them within the broader lens and the broader understanding of what’s happening to the ecosystem. And they aren’t actively allying themselves with the environmental movement as I think they . . . as I think they must. And I think the environmental movement has something to gain here too, because the environmental movement has been historically been understood, particularly in this country, as the province of a few elite, white men who are focused on the preservation of habitat for the spotted owl, when in fact what we’re talking about is again our survival as a species. Take a look at communities of color throughout the United States who are facing what are now slowly being described as environmental justice threats – toxic waste dumps for example – in their communities. The big players in the environmental movement have been very slow to inch towards those kinds of issues which are exactly the kinds of issues that will enable a much broader base of support and engagement in the movement they are talking about.
Recorded on: 8/13/07
Caldwell worries that the human rights movement isn't in the game.