First an interview with Jojo Mehta, co-founder of Mission LifeForce. Jojo works with Polly Higgins, a UK barrister who is helping small nation states to amend the Rome Statute to make ‘ecocide’ a crime similar to war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
As part of that work, Mission LifeForce have created a type of crowdfunding where people donate and sign up to an Earth Protectors Trust Fund. The sign-up document has been legally recognised across the world, and is admissible in UK courts as evidence. Money raised helps poor island states with the necessary travel and legal costs to fight for the amendment.
In the second half of the interview Jojo moves on to explain how activists have been using the document to define themselves as ‘Conscious Protectors’, calling on their right to act on their conscience, as outlined in both international and European human rights legislation, as a legitimate defence for acts of non-violent civil disobedience.
There are parallels with war-time conscientious objectors, who at first were shot, but by the time of the second world war had won a legal right not to fight in war.
Although there haven’t been any acquittals for activists using the ‘Conscious Protector’ techniques yet, there have been some remarkable court cases, with court staff visibly moved by the horror of climate and environmental science information presented in defence, and judges have frequently handed down minimum sentences and costs as a result.
Mission LifeForce’s Trust Fund would seem to be a good fit with Extinction Rebellion, the direct action non-violent civil disobedience campaign which publicly encourages ordinary people to be arrested as part of their campaign, and there is a link on the site to an activists toolkit with far more detailed information.
In January, Jojo ran a workshop in London along with barrister Tim Crosland of Plan B. This is a thorough exploration of Mission LifeForce’s work on ecocide and the practical application of being a Trust Fund member and ‘conscientious protector’. This film archives the two-hour workshop, including questions and answers, as a resource for climate campaigners to understand the work of these organisations, and access the tools and knowledge required to launch a powerful defence in court when charged over non-violent civil disobedience against climate change and mass extinction.