Over a year ago, we convened ‘Global Majority Vs.’, a youth-led campaign to take the UK Government to court, with the support of Plan B and the Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign (SMWeGEC).
We are charging the Government with the violation of our human rights – the right to life, the right to family life, the right to not be discriminated against (articles 2, 8, and 14 of the Human Rights Act) – given its continued climate inaction and active contribution to the ongoing ecocides and genocides taking place globally.
The Wassa mines in Ghana, part-funded by the UK, have been polluting ancestral rivers in Ghana like the Densu and Ankobra; increased support has been lent to Shell to house its operations in the UK at the cost of communities in South Afrika or the Ogoni peoples of the Niger Delta, who have not only ruled Shell and its operatives personae non-gratae, but are yet to receive any support in the redress needed for the ongoing destitution and destruction of their lands and livelihoods. The realities of our families have been placed before the UK Government as clear violations of our right to family life, but this extends further – to the future possibility of our family lives and life in general.
The violations of peoples’ rights extend to the failure of education here to promote our rights or to teach us about the threats that we all face. If the Government is failing to provide adequate information about the realities of the climate crisis, and so are schools, then we are all witness to a systematic denial of our rights, in which we are being prevented from safeguarding our right to life ourselves. This case then is an opportunity being given to the British Establishment: to acknowledge the historic and ongoing harm being caused, and support communities and schools in taking initiatives to repair globally and locally.
In August, the UK Government responded that any discriminatory impacts of its policies would be “reasonably and objectively justified”. Our first appeal was rejected by Justice Cavanagh, who stated that the prospects of success were too unlikely and that the rights of our communities were not “arguable in court”, while also trying to put pressure on the claimants by suggesting that we were not properly represented – the legal right to self-representation is one still existing in this country.
It was on 25 November that we took our second appeal to the Royal Courts of Justice. The Government’s defence rested on the discretion that it has in meeting its targets. The UK Courts ruled in favour of the Government, legalising its denial of its failure in safeguarding our rights, the rights of children in schools, to those already dying from air pollution, or the many who lives today are the direct result of UK corporations and their lack of accountability.
So, this is the historic turning point and opportunity we have for real change: the frontline now self-evidently spans the Global North and the Global South, while the majority of the world’s people are young (the median global age is estimated to be about 30 years old, and younger in parts of Afrika and Asia). When we all realise that we make up the Global Majority, that we all are colonised peoples of the world, displaced from justice, from our lands, from equitable and harmonious living with our Mother Earth and its resources, we can connect our struggles and win peoples’ justice.
For us to be successful, we have to seize the opportunity we have now to hold up and celebrate the victories of peoples and communities mobilising and organising for peoples’ justice – from the Indian striking farmers’ historic repeal of the neoliberal and neocolonial Western-backed land theft, to Indigenous Maya in Puebla, Mexico taking back their lands from Danone subsidiary Bonafont, to the recent election of Chilean president Gabriel Bolic, who has vowed to shut down the Copper mine and support Mapuche land rematriation.
Without international connections, without these victories being the lights we can hold up in our own communities and spaces, parties and organisations, we will not be able to defend the many gains being won by the Global Majority fighting for justice. As we secure these gains, we can build a new momentum, one where gains do not come at the expense of our global family.
So what’s next? The Global Majority Vs. Campaign is focusing this year on building better connections globally, with work to promote education about the law and our human rights at all levels. If we take this year to know our rights, then we know what we will be fighting for as the Government seeks to take them away – as Dominic Raab has recently announced, and Priti Patel’s record has evidenced. We can also gather this evidence and share it, putting pressure on the courts. We will focus on promoting human rights education through a variety of projects and want to work with others.
We want 2022 to be a year where we get to know each other, glocally (at the local level with the global picture). On 11 March we will be holding a glocal critical celebration of Gabriel Boric’s presidential victory, where we will be networking communities to see how we can defend the gains of a victory won through the efforts of largely youth and student organising. There is much more to be done, but it is becoming more clear with the courts and Government’s failures – we can build our own people-to-people institutions built on our ancestral understanding of justice.