Faced with the disastrous effects of our lifestyles on ecosystems and the unprecedented but very real risk of the disappearance of the human species in the medium term, the silence of our governments is criminal. However, more and more people perceive the danger but do not revolt. As such, at the request of a collective of members of Extinction Rebellion, we relay here their text which exposes the necessity to act urgently(1).

The Nuremberg principles(2) imply that anyone who has knowledge of crimes against humanity and has the possibility to oppose them is obliged to intervene. Neither orders from a superior nor national legislation (including criminal law) is a justification for not acting. This summer, even more than any other, we are witnessing new attacks on our environment and new climate disruptions: heat waves, droughts, devastating fires, galloping extinction of species… Global emissions continue to rise, as does environmental and biodiversity destruction

All of this continues to happen with a total lack of effective and relevant response from all leaders, be they politicians, business leaders or royalty (with a few rare exceptions). The Paris agreements are not respected and are already considered largely insufficient to maintain the 2°C threshold.

We talk about ecocide. Of crime against the whole of the living. This also includes humanity, a humanity in peril. Humanity is threatened by the very real and concrete risks related to climate change. These risks are now well known to everyone. Humanity is also threatened by the destruction of the biodiversity on which it depends for its survival as well as by the soon irreversible alteration of its only habitat, the Earth (deforestation, ocean acidification, soil erosion, pollution…)

Extermination is a crime against humanity which is defined by the fact of « intentionally imposing living conditions calculated to bring about the destruction of a part of the population »(3). As such, the impact of our society is such that the non-action can and should be recognized as a crime against humanity. Although no one is accused here of expressly wanting to exterminate the whole of humanity, from the moment that this danger is real and the acts aggravating this danger are well known, not taking the necessary measures can be assimilated to an intentional act.

Our dream is that everyone will become aware of this fact and of their moral obligation to intervene.

We have a dream that humans will rise up in the name of the most fundamental universal values that humanity has ever defended. In the twilight of one of the darkest pages of our history, after the fall of the Nazi regime, at the Nuremberg trials, humanity acted in the name of such principles.

Faced with the danger of climate disruption — and extinction — rebellion is no longer a choice, but a necessity and a duty.« When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people the most sacred and indispensable of duties. »(4) In this case, our fundamental right to life and security is being violated by the government through the lack of effective enforcement.

« There are two years left to act on climate change, otherwise we will have to face « disastrous consequences », warns the UN in September 2018(5)… UN Secretary General calls it a « direct existential threat » and the « greatest challenge » of the age. « If we don’t change direction by 2020, we risk…disastrous consequences for humans and the natural systems that sustain us. » « It is imperative that civil society — youth, women’s groups, the private sector, faith communities, scientists and environmental movements around the world — hold leaders accountable. »(6)

Some go further and say « the choice of lobbies and governments to ignore the recommendations of the IPCC and the UN, and to reach + 2°C (and more… ) of warming, to refuse the modification of the current production systems, amounts to choosing the extinction of humanity by the end of the century. »(7)

We dream that in the midst of the nightmare, humanity will wake up to act and move towards a better world. That is why Extinction Rebellion Belgium(8) demands:

  • that the government declare the climate and ecological emergency, and recognize the need for a rapid transformation of our economic system.
  • a citizens’ assembly, providing our regions and communities with the resources and authority necessary to ensure a controlled transition to an equitable post-growth society.
  • that the government launch a comprehensive and legally binding National Emergency Plan that eliminates the importation and extraction of fossil fuels by 2025, while prioritizing the restoration of biodiversity and the preservation of our natural environment.

Our mode of action is nonviolent direct action, which, in the words of Martin Luther King,« has as its objective to create a sense of crisis, an unbearable tension in order to force society to confront the problem and open the door to sincere negotiations. »

To dare to dream a future for our children is to dare to dream that everyone will take responsibility and rebel in the name of the most fundamental universal values that humanity has ever defended.

Collective of members of Extinction Rebellion

Notes et références
  1. En référence au célèbre discours “I have a dream” prononcé par Martin Luther King à Washington le 28 août 1963 devant plus de 250 000 manifestants.
  2. Le procès de Nuremberg, du 20 novembre 1945 au 1er octobre 1946, a été intenté par les puissances alliées contre 24 des principaux responsables du Troisième Reich, accusés de complot, crimes contre la paix, crimes de guerre et crimes contre l’humanité. Il constitue la première mise en œuvre d’une juridiction pénale internationale.
  3. Statuts de Rome de la Cour pénale internationale du 17 juillet 1998.
  4. Robespierre, Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen de 1793.
  5. https://www.nouvelobs.com/planete/20180911.OBS2141/il-reste-deux-ans-pour-agir-contre-le-changement-climatique.html
  6. Fred Vargas, “L’humanité en péril”, Ed. Flammarion, 2019, p. 203. Fred Vargas est docteur en archéozoologie, elle a travaillé comme chercheuse au CNRS avant de devenir écrivaine.
  7. https://extinctionrebellion.be/fr

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