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EarthRights International, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Educational Services, Environment, International, International Human Rights

Mission: EarthRights International (ERI) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization (NGO) that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, our earth rights. Earth rights are those rights that demonstrate the connection between human well-being and a sound environment, and include the right to a healthy environment, the right to speak out and act to protect the environment, and the right to participate in development decisions. ERI's mission is to protect humans and their natural environment from abuses occurring in the name of development. Specifically, we: 1) INVESTIGATE, MONITOR AND EXPOSE human rights and environmental abuses; 2) INCREASE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY of governments, transnational corporations (TNCs) and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) as they undertake investment and development activities; 3) PROTECT INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES working to defend the earth; and 4) ENSURE BIODIVERSITY, conservation and ecological integrity.

Programs: ERI's Burma Project: EarthRights International is one of the only organizations to assemble on-the-ground information about the human rights and environmental situation inside Burma. Since 1995, ERI has worked inside Burma to monitor the impact of the military regime's policies and activities on local populations and ecosystems. Through training, grassroots organizing, and setting up networks, ERI's staff has gathered a vast body of valuable, rare information about the state of the military regime's war on its peoples and its environment. We then share this information with the world, so that international efforts to isolate the regime and bring about democracy in Burma are strengthened. For example, ERI has twice made submissions to the International Labour Organization (ILO) about the persistence of forced labor in Burma. Despite the ILO's efforts to encourage the SPDC to end the practice of forced labor, ERI's submissions, which include numerous interviews with villagers, show that SPDC troops still use forced labor and are collecting labor and portering fees. The EarthRights Schools: The EarthRights Schools train local human rights and environmental activists in Southeast Asia. The innovative, year-long program combines rigorous academic study, participatory learning, and fieldwork. Each ethnically diverse class of students divides their year of training between classroom and field sessions. Litigation: EarthRights International's litigation seeks to provide remedies for earth rights abuses around the world. Working in partnership with other legal organizations and private lawyers, we are litigating several cases on behalf of victims of earth rights abuses, and we have filed amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs in several other cases. We seek to apply domestic and international law to hold corporations and others accountable for their actions, often using the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), which allows lawsuits in federal courts for violations of international law. EarthRights Campaigns: ERI coordinates netowrks of diverse activists and organizations, and builds coalitions between human rights, environment, and labor NGOs. In addition, EarthRights leads strategic alliances between international NGOs and local communities in solidarity campaigns to stop projects that threaten indigenous peoples' rights and their environment. For instance, in 2003, ERI began working intesively with Sarayaku, an indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon, to resist oil development in their territory. This struggle pits an indigenous community of some 1,000 people living in primary rainforest against two multinational oil companies, the Ecuadorian government, and the IMF. ERI provides logistical support, media outreach, and NGO network contacts to ensure that Sarayaku's voice is heard in the media, in corporate boardrooms, and in international forums such as the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights.

Community Stories

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Liz E.


Rating: 5

My family has supported EarthRights for many years now. They are doing such important work on a personal level educating people on how to legally stand up for their rights on the ground where abuse is occurring. I am awed and inspired by their staff and volunteers and in what they have been able to accomplish. So proud to be able to support this important organization.


Rating: 5

You speak for those who have no voice-people, the environment, the non people residents of the world-nature.

Laura H.


Rating: 5

Just for the work they are doing on child slave labor in the chocolate world should earn them every grant on earth!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I've had experience with ERI while working on the Thai-Burma border and in Chiang Mai with Open Society Institute's Burma Project, have had discussions with their staff and former clients while working at a think tank in DC focused on Burma issues, and have hosted staff for the Burma Roundtable in DC among other things.
Their personnel tends to be top-notch in terms of dedication, commitment, and having a propensity to take all resources and to focus them on the communities they serve. Their legal initiatives have a well-deserved reputation for breakthroughs. Their positions tend to be simultaneously principled and appropriately pragmatic.
If I were asked to direct donation resources to an organization working in their geographic or mission target areas, I'd encourage people to strongly consider them. If I were asked for a model organization that others working in the field might take lessons from, ERI would still have a pole or near-pole position.

Lauri T.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with 5 of the staff members of EarthRights International at their offices in Washington, DC.

Each conversation was so inspiring and confirmed for me how devoted these folks are to the extraordinary work of ERI in so many areas.

I've been following and promoting their efforts in the areas of human rights & environmental advocacy for the last 5 years, and hope to work with them in the future on protecting environmental defenders around the world.