COURT FOR INTERGENERATIONAL CLIMATE CRIMES
with Jonas Staal and Radha D’Souza
Given the unceasing nature of climate-destroying ecocide within the framework of racial and colonial capitalism, who are the perpetrators and how can they be held accountable? How can the construction of performative and speculative juridico-political processes of climate justice participate in the building of momentum toward the large-scale social transition that is necessary to avoid the worst of environmental breakdown? Targeting various transnational corporations based in the Netherlands – including the weapons manufacturer Airbus, the fossil-fuel and extractive financier ING, the polluting industry Unilever, and the complicity of the Dutch State in perpetrating intergenerational climate crimes – professor of international law Radha D’Souza and artist Jonas Staal have created the Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes. Featuring citizen juries and a more-than-human tribunal assembling an ecology of extinct animals, plants, and ammonite fossils – conceived as both witnesses and ecosystem comrades – the court held between September 2021 and January 2022 at Framer Framed, the platform for contemporary art, visual culture, and critical theory and practice in Amsterdam. For its November event, maat’s Climate Collective are joined by D’Souza and Staal to discuss this CICC project and key related subjects, including: the role of human and more-than-human witness testimony; the conflicted politics of the rights of nature under late liberalism; and the radical political possibilities and challenges of peoples’ tribunals in advancing social transformation as much as the post-anthropocentric transformation of the social.
Radha D’Souza is a Professor of International Law, Development and Conflict Studies at the University of Westminster (UK). D’Souza works as a writer, critic and commentator. She is a social justice activist and worked with labour movements and democratic rights movements in her home country of India as an organiser and activist lawyer. She is the author of What’s Wrong with Rights? (Pluto Press, 2018), a critical analysis of neoliberal legal institutions.
Jonas Staal is a Dutch visual artist whose work explores the relationship between art, propaganda and democracy. His work manifests itself internationally in the form of interventions in public space, exhibitions, lectures and publications. Staal completed his PhD research on contemporary propaganda art at Leiden University, the Netherlands. His most recent book is Propaganda Art in the 21st Century (The MIT Press, 2019).
Radha D'Souza and Jonas Staal: Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes, Video Study
12 minutes 32 sec
Radha D’Souza and Jonas Staal’s short video offer an overview of the conceptual premises and aims of their collaborative project The Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes. It asks, “what does it mean to address a human, an animal, a tree, or plant as ‘comrade’?” For the Court, language – including the terminology of comradely political belonging – opens up new paradigms of relationality and commonality, surpassing the objectifying dimensions of property, and proposing entire new juridico-political frameworks for justice. As an entrance into their larger participatory project, the video lays the groundwork for the momentous socio-environmental transformation required of the work of aesthetics and politics today.