Tag Archives: Lago Agrio

Doug Cassel on the Letter to the Special Rapporteur

Doug Cassel reponds to Aaron Marr Page’s post on the letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.

Aaron Marr Page is right that human rights defenders are endangered, but wrong to try to wrap Steven Donziger in the protective blanket of their moral credibility. Donziger does not remotely merit the support of the UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders.

Attacks and threats against human rights defenders do pose an enormous challenge. The UN Human Rights Council so recognized 15 years ago by establishing the position of the special rapporteur. Even so, in the Americas at least, defenders remain at risk. After reporting on the dangers for decades, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2011 established its own rapporteur on human rights defenders. Here in Mexico, where I am doing human rights research this semester, the Commission recently declared a “human rights crisis.” It warned that the “effect of the violence and fundamental rights violations is especially serious and disproportionate” to human rights defenders.

So we should all have common ground on the urgent need to defend the defenders. Day after day, they risk their lives, limbs and livelihoods to assert the rights of the most vulnerable populations.
Continue reading Doug Cassel on the Letter to the Special Rapporteur

Aaron Marr Page on the Special Rapporteur Letter

Aaron Marr Page responds constructively to my post on his letter to the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.

I’ll briefly respond to one point and add one observation.

As someone who watched things unfold, I can say that Ted’s speculative claim that “the reason Chevron’s threats were so potent was because there was some underlying wrongdoing that made Patton Boggs and the others perceive a serious risk of liability” is wrong. It is true, as he says, that some “allies” like Burford were “spooked,” in the sense that as soon as they heard Chevron’s allegations they starting looking for the exit (including, in Burford’s case, by coordinating with Chevron behind their own clients’ backs). Others were the victims of flat-out, unapologetic economic extortion campaigns, such as folks from Stratus Consulting, the company that Chevron brought to its knees by crushing it with litigation, intervening in a dispute with its litigation insurer to make sure the insurer would not cover the litigation expenses, and sending smear-campaign letters to Stratus’ other clients. (How we all tolerate this kind of conduct as just “part of the game” is beyond me.) But allies who took the time to unpack Chevron’s allegations and really understand the facts did not end up abandoning ship.
Continue reading Aaron Marr Page on the Special Rapporteur Letter