EnviroDefenders's picture
Lauri Tanner
Environmental Defenders Project

Lauri R. Tanner:

For more than 30 years, I have been passionately committed to social and economic justice, environmental protection and human rights issues, as well as public arts and media advocacy. After several years working as a human rights activist and educator in Mesoamerica (mainly Guatemala and Mexico), and many more as a nonprofit fundraiser, strategic marketing consultant, campaigner and researcher in the US, I chose to return to academia nine years ago to attend law school –

however, not to become a practicing lawyer in the US, but rather with the specific objective of gaining more effective advocacy, research and campaigning tools to help protect environmental whistleblowers and natural resources defenders from human rights violations around the world.

I earned both a J.D. degree and an LL.M. degree in International Human Rights Law from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, California, with coursework at American Univ. Law Academy on Human Rights and Boalt Hall/UC Berkeley Law. I also received an M.A. degree from GGU’s Graduate School of Management in nonprofit administration, and I obtained my B.A. in Psychology from Antioch College.

I’ve been researching environmental & land defenders (EHRDs) issues for more than 8 years and developing ideas for a multi-NGO international initiative to shine a spotlight on and help protect these defenders for the last 4 years.

My current focus is promoting global awareness and use of the landmark environmental defenders case Kawas v. Honduras, which I wrote about in the article linked below.

Twenty years ago, the same time land rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was murdered in Nigeria, 48 year-old iconic activist, ecologist and mother of two, Jeannette Kawas, was also killed in Honduras.

Especially significant in the article is the Epilogue (co-written with Jonathan Kaufman from EarthRights International - http://earthrights.org) addressing the controversial subsequent Cabrera/Montiel v. Mexico case (which involves an identifiable corporate actor), including critical advice for all human rights defenders, particularly land & environmental defenders and those advocates shining a spotlight on and helping to protect these courageous activists.

Even though this Kawas case took place in the Inter-American Human Rights Court, its precedent-setting requirement that governments must protect at-risk environmental activists from criminalization, torture and assassinations has global relevance, and should be utilized and cited in every possible context by these defenders and their advocates who are being attacked around the world.

At my home office in California, I have developed a comprehensive physical & digital library of more than 6,000 documents and a resource database addressing these issues. The library is currently being transferred to Zotero (http://zotero.org) in order to be able to share the library with all grassroots activists, NGOs, journalists, etc. interested in these issues. The Business & Human Rights Resource Center based in London, and HURIDOCS based in Geneva have both indicated willingness to host this Zotero library on their websites when it is ready for public access in 2016.

Environmental Defenders article from Oxford Press, Journal of Human Rights Practice

Free PDF to download:


Free Full Text online:


PDF of the Spanish translation of the article, and more info are on my personal site http://environmentaldefenders.org