Environmental Ethics
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Ernest Partridge, Ph.D
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Classical Guitar:
"The Other Profession
"

 

 

 

Summary Report

Environment and Human Rights in the Russian Federation

 

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Washington, D.C.
November 6-7, 2001

 

Co-Sponsors:
The Center for Democracy
Trust for Mutual Understanding
Center for Russian Environmental Policy, Moscow
Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies
Environmental Change and Security Project, WWICS



On November 6-7, 2001, The Center for Democracy (CFD) co-hosted with the Moscow-based Center for Russian Environmental Policy (CREP) and the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies a seminar on "Environment and Human Rights in the Russian Federation." The seminar was held with generous support from the Trust for Mutual Understanding in New York and took place at the Kennan Institute's headquarters at The Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, DC.

The seminar brought together eleven key Russian environmental and human rights experts with approximately thirty U.S.  government officials, policymakers, NGO leaders, and experts involved in both environmental and human rights reform efforts in the Russian Federation.  This event was the third in a series of seminars on environmental, public health, and civil society issues in the Russian Federation.  CFD, CREP, and the Academy for Educational Development hosted a one-day experts meeting on environmental risks to public health in Russia on February 27, 2001, followed closely by a two-day seminar on the restructuring of Russia's federal environmental agencies on March 1-2 at the Kennan Institute.  The seminar on "Environment and Human Rights in the Russian Federation" provided the U.S.  and Russian experts with an opportunity to extend these initial discussions to address the growing connection between the environmental and human rights communities and identify specific ways in which these sectors, which have not collaborated extensively in the past, can work together to improve environmental conditions and strengthen the basic tenets of civil society in Russia. 

The two-day seminar divided into four panels: 1).  Environment, Human Rights, and Civil Society in Russia; 2).The Environmental and Human Rights Coalition: Constituencies, Cooperation and Challenges; 3).  Environmental and Human Rights Law in Russia: Status and Implementation; and 4).  International Dimension of Environmental Human Rights.  Discussions focused on the relationship between environmental protection and human rights, including such important issues as freedom of information, freedom of association, the right to legal recourse, and more basically, the right to a healthy environment.  (See attached the seminar participant list and agenda.) Following is a summary of these panel and general audience discussions.



Panel One: Environment, Human Rights, and Civil Society in Russia

Seminar co-organizer and Panel Chair Alexey Yablokov, President of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy in Moscow, opened the session by pointing out the inherent overlap of civic and democratic values common to both the environmental and human rights movements a similarity often overlooked by members of both movements.  He described a primary goal of the seminar as attempting to attract the attention of the general populace to environmental and human rights issues through constitutional means, thereby improving Russia's human rights and environmental situation, increasing citizens' exercise of their human rights, and contributing to the overall strengthening of civil society in the Russian Federation.  Dr.  Yablokov then invited panel speakers to comment on the general topic of environment, human rights, and civil society as it relates to their own work and experiences in Russia.

First speaker Dr.  Oleg Mironov, Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation, began his presentation by stating the importance of collaboration between Russia's human rights and environmental movements and the benefit to his Commission of attending the seminar and meeting Russian and U.S.  NGO representative from both sectors.  Dr.  Mironov described in detail the work of his Commission, founded in 1998, with the broad mission of establishing itself as the Russian governmental authority on human rights and an effective monitoring body for citizens' rights violations.  Environmental health and protection, he attested, is a basic human right that falls within the framework of his commission.  He stated the primary objectives of the Commission as: 1) restoration of citizens' rights, including environmental rights; 2) improvement of Russian human rights legislation to meet international standards; and 3) public education, particularly in terms of establishing human rights programs in elementary schools. 

Dr.  Mironov described at length his visits to regions of Russia experiencing acute environmental degradation, including the Archangelsk region of Northern Russia, where only an estimated 7% of children are born without health problems.  Dr.  Mironov announced the Commission's intent to declare 2002 "The Year of the People of the North," in an effort to attract public and media attention to this issue.  Dr.  Mironov also described the efforts of his Commission to work with environmental NGOs inside Russia the Commission and the Center for Russian Environmental Policy are preparing a special report on "Human Rights and the Environment" to be distributed among government and nongovernmental entities in Russian and abroad.  Finally, he mentioned his efforts to raise environmental issues in his collaboration with Ombudsmen Offices of other countries, including plans to hold a 2002 conference of international ombudsmen dedicated to issues of human rights and the environment. 

Dr.  Vladimir Zakharov, Director of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy, spoke about his career over the past decade in the field of environmental protection and conservation and the ways in which issues of human rights and civil society have become increasingly integrated into his work.  Dr.  Zakharov explained that as a scientist and ecologist, he was not interested in discussions of democratic values and civil society ten years ago, but soon learned that he would not be able to do much in advancing his own environmental beliefs without either.  His biggest lesson has been the need to cooperate with other organizations and individuals on these issues, as is made evident by the partnership of CREP and CFD: "Over the past decade, CREP has become more democratic and The Center for Democracy has become greener." Dr.  Zakharov also mentioned the work of the Eisenhower Fellowship Leadership Program, a U.S.  program in which he was a visiting scholar during the autumn of 2001, as effective in bridging the gap between the Russian private sector and environmental interests, thus promoting civil society. 

Dr.  Zakharov expressed his belief that efforts should be made by NGOs, business communities, and government authorities in both countries to compare experiences and come to mutual understandings on environmental issues so that further degradation can be prevented rather than only recognized after the fact.  Few practical steps can be taken in reaction to environmental health problems in Russia.  It is very difficult to find legal proof of links between environmental degradation and bad health, as objective data is virtually nonexistent.  The main tasks, then, are to find means of preventing negative environmental effects on human health and circulating existing data and information on this topic to the public and media.  Dr.  Zakharov stated the main priorities of ecological development in Russia as upgrading and enhancing the value of natural resources, promoting and improving environmental safety, and publicizing the effects of environmental damage on human health. 

There is, of course, a cultural barrier to pursuing these objectives in Russia.  The idea of "health of the environment" is strong in the U.S., where it is generally considered a basic and undeniable human right.  However, this concept is still very weak in the Russian Federation.  As an integral aspect of civil society development, it will take time and generations for this idea to become an expected and fundamental right in the Russian Federation. 

Dr.  Ernest Partridge, Department of [Philosophy] at the University of California at Riverside, was the final speaker on Panel One.  Citing a recent newspaper column stating that the world will not change after the September 11 terrorist attacks just because the U.S.  had decided to join it, Dr.  Partridge stated that he could not agree more and would focus his comments on the necessity and importance of international cooperation.  He offered suggestions on how the U.S.  and Russia should work together to address environmental concerns, human rights, and overall issues of civil society in both countries, making clear that he was on no account going to offer recommendations on "what Americans can do for Russians." The U.S, he argued, is in no position to "teach" anyone about the rule of law, environmental stewardship, democratic elections, or any political issues.  Atrocities on both the U.S.  and Russian side can easily be cited to support this argument.  Instead, our wisest approach is to work together on both U.S.  and Russian problems. 

Dr.  Partridge pointed out that the terrorist attacks of September 11 present some opportunities.  President Bush, for example, has suddenly begun to appreciate the value of international cooperation in stark contrast to his administration's previous isolationist policy.  The international community, Dr.  Partridge suggested, should use this new U.S.  interest in the world as leverage on certain controversial Bush Administration policies.  The question before the participants in this seminar, however, is "Can NGOs Make a Difference in this New Approach?" Dr.  Partridge described the initiatives of U.S.  and Russian scientists during the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in the mid-1980s as a prime example of the effectiveness of transnational nongovernmental cooperation in positively affecting government policy.  This type of cooperation, he stated, has made a difference in the past, and it can do so again today. 

The Kyoto Treaty on global warming presents another opportunity for U.S., Russian, and international nongovernmental activists to unite and press for policy changes.  The 150 nations that signed this treaty must insist that this treaty involve reciprocity.  The international scientific communities must enlist the support of populations who also believe in the importance of global warming issues.  Finally, Dr.  Partridge described Russia's Socio-Ecological Union's Ecodom Project, which promotes energy-efficient heating systems, as an area for potential cooperation between U.S.  and Russian scientists and environmental-human rights activists.  It is an area in which the U.S.  can learn from Russia rather than the other way around.  Dr.  Partridge closed the panel by expressed his belief that the only way to expand such cooperative initiatives and enterprises is through increased communication, exchanges, and meetings such as this seminar. 

During Panel One's general discussion, seminar participants focused on the importance of strengthening organized legal capacity in Russia to protect the rights of environmental activists.  Currently, the need for professional lawyers is still much greater than the pool of existing Russian lawyers.  Therefore, international organizations could help by providing financial assistance for legal training.  In general, however, the level of judicial professionalism is gradually rising. 

Dr.  Mironov pointed out that his Commission for Human Rights regularly prepares reports on human rights violations.  These reports are distributed to President Putin, government offices, high courts, the State Duma and are published in various newspapers.  However, when he expressed his support for the judicial reform presently underway in the Russian Federation, one participant voiced a common fear in Russia that by means of reform, executive authorities are trying to further increase their influence on the judicial branch.  Current laws on the status of judges prevents outside influence on court decisions.  On the other hand, many judges have been working in courts since the time of the Soviet Union and lack understanding of the concept of judicial independence.  In addition, flaws in the current court system make individual judges prone to bribery and influence by political authorities. 

It was also mentioned that NGOs and mass media potentially can and should play an important role in promoting judicial independence, for example, by helping to break up the union of three structures which should operate independently in a democratic society: the General Prosecutor's Office, the courts, and the investigators.

Finally, participants raised concerns that Russian authorities adopted a new strategy of avoiding illegal actions by means of modifying the laws to suit their interests.  This trend is a much more sophisticated way for the Russian government to pursue their goals without provoking criticism from the international community.  However, Russian authorities' concern about Russia's reputation in the world also forces them to limit violations of human rights in the country.  Therefore, foreign governments and international organizations should use their influence to encourage democratic development and human rights protection in Russia.


Panel Two: The Environmental and Human Rights Coalition:
Constituencies, Cooperation, and Challenges

Retired Russian Naval Captain Alexander Nikitin, President of the Coalition for Environment and Human Rights in St.  Petersburg, convened the second panel by identifying the four objectives of the Coalition:

1.  To circulate ecological information to researchers, scientists, and environmental activists across the Russian Federation using newer technology such as email, internet, and facsimile;

2.  To perfect existing legislation by means of bringing together powerful groups of lawyers and other legal experts in Moscow and Saint Petersburg in order to have greater influence on law-making and revision;

3.  To draw the attention of Russia's judicial system to human rights and the environment; and

4.  To improve relations between the government of the Russian Federation and environmental and human rights NGOs. 

Mr.  Nikitin concluded his remarks by stating that while the Coalition is making some progress towards these goals, the Russian government regularly attempts to disrupt their initiatives. 

Mr.  Ernest Chernyi, Chairman of the Moscow branch of the Coalition for Environment and Human Rights, outlined the Coalition's recent involvement in several espionage cases against Russian scientists and activists.  In order to combat the government's unfair prosecution of these individuals, the Coalition is setting up an information service to demonstrate to the outside world the human rights violations inherent to these cases.  These trials, Mr.  Chernyi maintained, are fabrications based upon the Russian government's intolerance toward criticism rather than being founded on concrete evidence.  The future role of security forces in Russia must be much more limited if Russia wants to move toward democracy.  Citizens are distrustful of the government and security forces because of their omnipotence and misuse of their power and force.  The Russian people must be able to hold accountable those who illegally persecute scientists and activists. 

Chernyi believes the following measures will help prevent the government's abuse of the judicial system and further unite human rights and environmental groups:

1.  Greater publicity of false espionage cases in order to gain international support;

2.  Insistence on the presence of observers at espionage trials.  All of the recent espionage cases have been kept classified, observers have been turned away, and defendants have been denied the right to a public defender; and

3.  Better understanding of terminology of both human rights and environmental groups.  NGOs must find a way to combine the two vocabularies into a coherent argument to convey the interests of a unified movement to influence government decisions.

Mr.  Yuri Vdovin, Deputy Chairman of Citizen Control in St.  Petersburg, followed Mr.  Chernyi with a summary of the status of mass media and freedom of speech in the Russian Federation.  Media in Russia, Mr.  Vdovin argued, has never acted as a means to disseminate facts and information.  Instead, for seventy years, mass media was a propaganda tool to mold public perception of the state's actions and policies.  Bills on freedom of speech and media have not found legislative support in the Duma and the lack of laws regulating television and radio broadcasting allows bureaucrats to decide what news groups may operate based upon subjective criteria.  Television is perpetuating the myth of the "cool, courageous NKVD and KGB officers" in order to quell public outcry against government misuse of the security forces.  Mr.  Vdovin believes that international pressure is the only way to promote freedom of the media in Russia, and therefore, the West should not tolerate the Russian government's campaign to control mass media.

Mr.  Joshua Handler from Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security, presented his view that the human rights and environmental communities in Russia are not sufficiently united to effectively influence policymaking.  Although human rights groups recognize a clean environment as a basic human right, they frequently focus on more traditional human rights issues such as harassment of dissidents and the rights of minorities.  On the other hand, the environmental community shares the view that the right to a clean environment should be afforded to every human being, but often views human rights advocates as too political.  To environmentalists, politics is often the source of the problem, not the solution.  Mr.  Handler also pointed out the fact that possible funding organizations are not structurally organized to fund and work with both environmental and human rights advocacy groups.  As Mr.  Handler stated, this problem must be quickly addressed by activist groups and funders alike in order to strengthen the union between the communities and to increase the support they receive.

Ms.  Alice Hengesbach, Russian Program Associate at Initiative for Social Action and Renewal in Eurasia (ISAR), pointed out in her presentation that international organizations can support and bring together the environmental and human rights communities.  International NGOs should foster grassroots movements and bring together individuals and NGOs from around the world to work on shared goals.  For example, ISAR traditionally works with the environmental movement, but also supports groups that advocate fundamental human rights, such as a healthy environment.  ISAR's offices in Russia support local NGOs by providing financial assistance and grants, encouraging cooperation on a regional level, and promoting cooperation and exchanges with NGOs in the United States.

Concluding the panel presentations, Dr.  Mironov stated that economic decline has and will continue to stifle the unification of environmental and human rights groups.  In addition, the war in Chechnya has drained the economy, taking both resources and attention away from ecological problems at home.  Dr.  Mironov pledged to continue fighting on behalf of victims of ecological and environmental disasters in Russia, despite the many problems and challenges the coalition is facing.

During the general discussion, participants returned to the issue of the role of the media, commenting on the fact that television stations in Russia are in terrible shape due to compliance with flawed legislation.  Freedom of information on the Internet is also under threat as Russian authorities struggle to control the circulation of information.  Due to this excessive control by governmental authorities, ecologists and human rights activists experience the same problem of insufficient information.  Some participants argued that proper regulation would only be accomplished through the work of special agencies.  However, in the past three years, there has been some progress and the public has become more informed of environmental and human rights violations.

The role of the next generation and the future of human rights and environmental advocacy was also discussed.  Several Russian participants expressed concern that the KGB has trained the next generation, effectively limiting the likelihood of their support for a more open and liberal society.  Therefore, there is little chance for drastic change in the next 20-30 years.  In fact, far fewer young people work in the human rights sector than in the Security Services.

Dr.  Yablokov and other Russian participants encouraged representatives of U.S.  NGOs to continue to participate in international conferences, maintain open relations with their Russian counterparts, conduct joint research, and broadly publicize the results.  Organizations such as Amnesty International now have a different mission than in previous times.  Their historical legacy of human rights work in Russia was to get people out of jail.  However, in present times the goal is to keep innocent Russians from being incarcerated.  Indeed, many organizations are effectively working with local governments.  However, activists also need to approach top leaders with their concerns.  Forwarding complaints and concerns to minor bureaucrats produces insufficient results.  Russian authorities need to better understand that improvements in environmental and human rights are beneficial to their own success.  For example, in the 1999 parliamentary elections, even the most liberal candidates, did not focus either on environmental issues or on human rights in an effort to avoid conflict with the government.  In the future, candidates need to specify which environmental and human rights violations they oppose.


Panel Three: Environmental and Human Rights Law in Russia:
Status and Implementation

Dr.  Andrei Lebedev, Senior Advisor at the Human Rights Commission of the Russian Federation, opened the panel by discussing the shortcomings of human rights law implementation in Russia.  The Russian Constitution of 1993 explicitly includes international principles of human rights (such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).  Moreover, in instances when domestic law contradicts international norms, international principles should take precedence.  Dr.  Lebedev conceded that there has not been any uniform application of international human rights law by judges in Russia.  Many citizens are unaware of the existence of such laws and their right to seek recourse in bodies such as the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (where, he pointed out, not a single complaint of a Russian citizen has ever been given substantive consideration).  Finally, Russia lacks an authoritative body responsible for determining whether domestic laws are consistent with international human rights norms. 

Regarding environmental regulations, Dr.  Lebedev does not believe that the Russian government is committed to obeying existing laws.  He citied a 1992 protocol signed by Russia opened the door to the importation of radioactive waste.  The treaty went into effect immediately upon its signing, without any review process or ratification by the parliament and effectively escaped any scrutiny of potential environmental ramifications.  This case is illustrative of the general pattern in Russia, where experts from civil society have routinely been barred from participating in most aspects of arms control protocols, including the verification process.

In conclusion, Dr.  Lebedev suggested that a new declaration of human rights is needed for the 21st century.  The existing Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed over 50 years ago, does not address several contemporary issues, including terrorism and the environment.  A new code is necessary to answer questions that have particular resonance in modern times, such as human rights in an era of terrorism, the right of people to access information, the right to keep certain information private, and ecological rights.  Finding and recording answers to these questions, he stated, is a task for the United Nations and other international organizations. 

Dr.  Yablokov framed his presentation around a discussion of some of the basic environmental rights that are enshrined in the Russian Constitution: the right to a favorable environment, the right to unobstructed access to environmental information, and the right to compensation for environmental violations.  While the right to favorable environment is at least better protected on paper in Russia than in many other countries of the world, it has been undermined by the following recent developments:

1.  Current efforts to revise the 1991 law on environmental protection, which, according to Dr.  Yablokov, will make the new law drastically worse than the original; 

2.  Liquidation of the State Committee on the Environment by President Putin.  This decision has elicited extensive protest from civil society, the Duma, the Council of the Federation, and the Russian Orthodox Church.  An appeal to the Supreme Court on this matter was lost this summer, and a further appeal is currently being forwarded to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg; 

3.  A decision by the Ministry of Education to exclude environmental studies from the mandatory curriculum in Russian schools; 

4.  Temporary abolishment of the environmental police force, reestablished in September 2001; and 

5.  Loss of independence of the Environmental Protection Office, which is now subordinate to the Regional Prosecution Office and part of a corrupt system.

Dr.  Yablokov then spoke about the right of access to environmental information in Russia.  There are many ambiguous areas in current legislation.  For instance, it is unclear what is considered to be environmental information and, consequently, what information can be freely accessed.  The lack of definitive answers to these questions allows various governmental agencies freedom of interpretation as to what exactly falls into the category of "environmental information." Consequently, the Russian government has been able to withhold important environmental information by labeling it a state secret. 

Finally, Dr.  Yablokov discussed the right to compensation for environmental violations.  The Russian government often downplays incidents of environmental damage, as illustrated by the government's actions after the 1986 Chernobyl accident.  The government officially recognized that 33 people died as a direct result of the disaster and a few thousand more were exposed to radiation in the days and weeks afterward.  Compensation was thus primarily directed towards these groups; however, the Russian government has largely ignored the cases of cancer, premature births, and other ailments that have since plagued many thousands of others in the contaminated area.  These indirect victims of the disaster have often been unable to gain reparations, because it is difficult to prove in court that the Chernobyl incident is responsible for the birth defect in a child born years after the accident. 

The final panelist, Ms.  Ludmila Komogortseva, Chair of the Union for Chemical Safety in Bryansk, focused her presentation on the violation of ecological rights in Russia.  Like Dr.  Yablokov, she used the state's handling of the Chernobyl accident to illustrate the government's effort to understate the seriousness of environmental problems.  Soviet officials neglected to advise residents in the contaminated area to take the simplest precautions in the days following the accident, such as increasing their intake of iodine.  As a result of government indifference, today, the Bryansk region of Russia has the highest rate of child thyroid cancer in the world.  Ms.  Komogortseva claimed that the government has often instructed her and other environmentalists not to discuss such findings publicly, as "people are better off not knowing."

Moreover, Ms.  Komogortseva claimed that most of the money allocated by the State Duma for resettlement of those displaced by the disaster was stolen.  The compensation provided from the remaining funds was inadequate; people were settled in remote areas with poor housing, minimal infrastructure, and few job opportunities.  Consequently, many citizens remain in the contaminated areas.

General discussion after the panel presentations addressed the role of international courts in the Russian Federation.  Most Russian citizens are not in a position to appeal to international courts due to extensive procedural requirements.  However, most citizens also do not utilize to the full extent the capabilities of the Russian courts to obtain justice.  Emotion often prevails over professionalism and this prevents progress in the legal system.  Many participants also believe that, to a large extent, people are unable or unwilling to pursue cases through the Russian judicial system due to their limited access to information.  The Human Rights Commission of the Russian Federation, in an effort to improve public access to information, published 5,000 copies of the Commission's brochure on environmental and human rights.  This brochure is also available on their web site.

Several gaps in Russian human rights legislation were discussed, including the lack of a universally recognized definition for "state secret" and the need for laws regulating demonstrations and public events.  The Presidential Human Rights Commission recently published a brochure listing transgressions in human rights law and regulations in Russia.  Today, there are committees on human rights in over 60 regions of the Russian Federation.  However, these committees are often dominated by bureaucrats and suffer from a lack of universal standard operating procedures that would ensure their objectivity and effectiveness. 

Several participants also expressed their discontent with the fact that Russian human rights groups must survive on funding from Western sources.  In Russia, organizations and individuals capable of providing funding to the environmental and human rights cause receive little encouragement and very few incentives to do so.

To conclude the discussion, various participants listed suggestions for future cooperative activities: 

1.  Monitoring activities of the numerous human rights committees scattered throughout the Russian Federation;

2.  Legal training for human rights and environmental experts;

3.  Educational programs for regional authorities regarding implementation of laws;

4.  Advancing bills to the Duma;

5.  Utilizing the Internet to improve access to environmental and human rights information, including surveillance of environmental and human rights regulation misuse and abuses;

6.  Implementation of a system similar to that of the United States Government's FOIA system to declassify information in Russia;

7.  Drawing in the business community to support freedom of the press, clear laws, and access to redress through the courts;

8.  A series of exchanges between Russian and U.S.  business leaders, which might encourage Russian business leaders to provide financial assistance to NGOs working in their own area; and

9.  A program designed to increase the Russian presence in Strasbourg and cooperation with the Council of Europe.

 

Panel Four: International Dimension of Environmental Human Rights

Dr.  Mironov summarized the role of his Commission in addressing environmental human rights problems.  He reiterated the Commission's need to strengthen its ties to the environmental community and respond to the concerns of environmental activists.  Dr.  Mironov has already formed an environmental section within the Commission, headed by Prof.  Yablokov, to establish an on-going relationship with environmental activists.  Dr.  Mironov appealed to representatives of international organizations present at the seminar and asked them to contribute to the work of his Commission by clearly expressing their support for its activities.

Prof.  Yablokov suggested the following possibilities for international cooperation:

1.  Promote international exchanges to provide Americans and Europeans with a first-hand experience Russia's environmental and human rights problems and the lack of rule of law in the country;

2.  Organize campaigns to support environmental human rights in Russia and involve prominent multinational organizations such as the United Nations; and

3.  Provide funding support for specific environmental problems.  Often, human rights groups use foreign donations for purely human rights projects rather than share the funds with environmental activists

Mr.  Nikitin drew the attention of seminar participants to the fact that a historic event for the state of the Russian environment is underway, namely, the importation of nuclear waste.  In the coming weeks and months, Russian environmentalists need strong support from their U.S.  counterparts to pass the message to the U.S.  Congress and State Department that this project will damage not only Russia, but also the global environment.  Nikitin suggested creating a joint commission to monitor the use of international assistance.  In addition, he suggested organizing a conference for Russian businesses and NGOs with the active involvement of the U.S.  experts.

Ms.  Maureen Greenwood, Advocacy Director for Europe at Amnesty International, provided an overview of Amnesty's programs in Russia, emphasizing that it is the oldest and largest international human rights organization working in the region.  According to their statistics, the number of so-called "spy" cases has decreased but general harassment of environmental activists still continues.  Ms.  Greenwood mentioned that conventional methods used broadly in the U.S.  to influence government's decisions, such as reaching constituencies and involving mass media, are not applicable in Russia.  Therefore, international cooperation and assistance are of even higher importance.  International and Russian environmental and human rights organizations should take advantage of globalization and join their efforts to protect environment and human rights in the countries around the world.

Mr.  Carl Mitchell, Deputy Chief of the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of USAID, presented a USAID project in the Caspian Sea region as an example of a successful international environmental program. 

During the general discussion for Panel Four, Ivan Blokov, Director of Greenpeace-Russia, spoke about Greenpeace's efforts to encourage international cooperation on environmental and human rights issues in Russia and around the world.  He described in some detail the shortcomings of both the Russian government and international donors in responding to the urgent needs of the environmental movement.  Other participants voiced their beliefs that the challenges before both the environmental and human rights sectors were daunting and urgent, and that continued cooperation between seminar participants and other NGOs not in attendance is crucial.

In conclusion, Professor Allen Weinstein, of the The Center for Democracy, suggested a few concrete ideas for follow-on activities aimed at promoting international cooperation on environmental and human rights issues:

1.  Establish an email working group, consisting of current seminar participants, in preparation for a follow-on meeting in Russia;

2.  Plan a special mission to Strasbourg, France for meetings with The Council of Europe on environmental and human rights; plus possible meetings with European Union officials in Russia on these issues;

3.  Strengthen internet links on this subject, since the majority of internet sites are currently oriented either to human rights or environment, but not both movements;

4.  Create a donor group specifically focused on collaboration of environment and human rights sectors;

5.  Use pop culture as a vehicle for publicizing the issue and reaching youth; and

6.  Design a campaign to name all imprisoned or harassed environmental activists in Russia and circulate this information via the internet


The seminar co-hosts, Allen Weinstein, Alexei Yablokov, and Blair Ruble of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, closed discussions by expressing their gratitude to all participants for their attendance and their satisfaction with the high level of commentary.  They agreed to continue (on an informal basis) discussion of all suggestions made over the two days for concrete follow-on activities.  Seminar participants were encouraged to contribute their ideas, comments, and additional suggestions to either the CFD or CREP in the coming months so that subsequent activities would be as practical and effective as possible. 

 


Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .