Wednesday, April 7, 2010

community focus needed for a real 'break'

The Indypendent » Greenpeace Indirectly Pits Itself Against Indonesian Farm Workers

The Indypendent Blog posted this brief article about the effects of Greenpeace's recent big campaign against Nestle. Greenpeace has really started to nail down how to wage a successful campaign with cutting viral videos and aggressive pushes against well-known corporations. It's the kinda stuff that makes environmentalists go "oo yeah, you get 'em Greenpeace". And it seems that the campaign is having rapid success, but not without a drawback, pushback from Indonesian palm oil farmers.

At CUNY Law we speak often about organizing and advocacy and the role of the law within that, and I think this issue raises these questions on a big scale. Specifically - how can large environmental groups wage effective campaigns without sacrificing community needs? Can this be done on a large scale or is a smaller community focus required to preserve the lives of workers when one corporation holds all the economic power in a region? Are viral video campaigns inherently exploitive?

And so on.

At the International Law Society's event a few weeks ago "Blood and Capital: Holding Corporations Accountable for Human Rights Violations" we did see some great legal work utilizing the Alient Tort Statute that seems to allow for this type of work. Is there a way that Greenpeace and the other gigantic environmental groups can integrate some of CCR's and EarthRights strategies?

Much to consider, and it's important for all of us to consider these questions in our summer work and beyond.

Regardless, here is the somewhat stomach turning Greenpeace video, in case you haven't seen it.

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