Environment and Human Rights Activism, Journalism and ‘The New War’

Authored by: Libby Lester

The Routledge Companion to Media and Human Rights

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138665545
eBook ISBN: 9781315619835
Adobe ISBN:


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April 2016. Tokyo is filling with the sub-politics that precedes a gathering of the leaders of the world’s richest nations. A month before the Japan-hosted G7 summit, local NGOs Fairwood Partners and Friends of the Earth Japan hire a seminar room in an office block in the city’s Minato business district as well as two simultaneous translators, usually employed by the Japanese government to accompany their ministers and trade officials on overseas missions. The NGOs have invited Japanese companies that trade in and use imported timber to a seminar on due diligence and the risk of illegality in Japan’s timber supply chain. Speakers include US- and Europe-based environmental and human rights activists from the groups, Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency. Both groups use undercover techniques among other methods to expose the illegal timber trade and associated abuses to the rights of local communities and traditional land owners. More than 120 company officers attend the seminar, forcing a last-minute change to a larger room. Among the companies represented are Japan’s giant trading corporations, which reach across the globe’s resource, financing and construction sectors and provide the historic template for the global trade of today, dominated as it is by distant resource procurement and complex supply chains. Several of the country’s leading environmental journalists also attend. They are here, corporate and media attendees reveal later in an interview, for a simple reason: The NGOs know more about the global timber trade, due diligence and potential corporate risk than they do.

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