Green Advocates (Liberia)
The Association of Environmental Lawyers of Liberia (Green Advocates) was founded in 2001 by a group of progressive law school graduates. Green Advocates is Liberia’s first and only public interest environmental law organization dedicated to:
• Protecting the environment,
• Advancing human rights protection and advocacy through sound environmental practices, and;
• Giving voice to rural, indigenous, and tribal people, who historically have been denied access to benefits accruing from the extraction of timber and other natural resources from their tribal and ancestral lands.
Through advocating for strong environmental laws, working to enforce existing laws, and empowering citizens to participate in environmental decision-making, Green Advocates is helping to build a sustainable future for Liberia.
ILRF is please to be working with Green Advocates a partner in the Stop Firestone coalition, working to hold Firestone accountable for its use of child labor, abuse of workers rights and environmental degradation on their rubber plantation in Harbel, Liberia
Green Advocates’ work is encompassed in several program areas:
Protecting The Environment
Environmental degradation, illegal natural resource exploitation, and massive human rights abuses associated with this exploitation are Liberia’s sad legacy. Green Advocates is working to strengthen environmental laws and practices to establish a solid legal basis to protect the environment.
Green Advocates reviews current environmental laws, regulations and practices, and synchronizes, harmonizes and codifies them into a logical framework that embraces a sound environmental management policy. Green Advocates proposes new legislation and provides general and specialized education and awareness on the environment, environmental laws, and practices.
Human Rights Advocacy/Protection
The link between human rights and the environment is undeniable. This is a program strategy Green Advocates intends to pursue vigorously. The history of Liberia (and many African states) is replete with wanton rights violations associated with suppressing dissent or protest over the destruction of the environment and the exploitation of natural resources.
Green Advocates conducts human rights education environmental and awareness activities on the right to life, the right to a healthy environment, and the right to share the benefits of natural resources. The premise underlying this program is that “knowledge is power.” Only when people are aware of their rights are they in a position to exercise, defend, or protect these rights.
Through the Human Rights Advocacy/Protection program, Green Advocates will use Liberian and international laws, protocols and mechanism not only as instruments to change and re-direct the Liberia’s environmental policy towards more sustainable use of the environment, but to protect and advance the rights of all Liberians to a clean, healthy, sound, safe, and sustainable environment.
Natural Resources and Tribal Peoples Rights
Tribal people in Liberia are often economically disadvantaged and unable to defend or protect their rights and tribal inheritance of land and local resources. These are predominantly farmers, hunters, traditional doctors, and high priests who depend on their natural habitat, the land, and their immediate environment for survival.
Experience in Liberia reveals that the national government, without prior consultation, assigns concession agreements or transfers ancestral lands to foreign or domestic multinational business concerns, without just compensation.
Green Advocates seeks to give voice to tribal peoples through education about property rights and legal claims based on the unique connection between tribal peoples and the environment. Green Advocates provides legal defense, including just compensation in future cases and lump sum compensation for past abuses, deprivation and dispossession.