— Global Justice Ecology Project
Around 1:00 on the last day of COP16, a dozen or so activists staged an action at the Moon Palace in Cancun to protest the silencing of civil society voices by the UNFCCC. Their mouths taped over with signs reading”UNFCCC,” they locked arms in front of the escalators leading to the closed chambers where high-level negotiations were taking place.
Wearing signs saying “Global South,” “Women,” “Indigenous,” “Youth,” “No REDD,” and “Cochabamba” – a reference to the Cochabamba Peoples Agreement that was unilaterally dropped from the UNFCCC negotiating text – the group stood their ground amid an onrush of security, as Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project, Deepak Rugani of Biofuelwatch and Global Forest Coalition, and Rebecca Leonard of Focus on the Global South shouted “The UN is silencing dissent!” and other pointed political messages
“We took this action because the voices of indigenous peoples, of women, of small island countries, of the global south, must be heard!” they shouted, as police, media and a crowd of onlookers and supporters gathered.
Nicola Bullard of Focus on the Global South, who was standing by, said, “What we see here is a group of people representing the voices that are silenced in the U.N. process. In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen the exclusion of countries of the global south, and their proposals ignored. We’ve seen activists and representatives from civil society excluded from the meetings and actually kicked out of the UNFCCC itself. This is a symbolic action to show the delegates here that we think this process is exclusionary, that there are voices that must be heard, that there are perspectives and ideas and demands that must be included in the debates being held in this building today. These decisions are far too important to be left to politicians. We need to open up this up and hear the voices of the people and the voices of the South.”
After about fifteen minutes, the activists were led out of the building by security with their arms interlocked and put on a bus that took them to the Villa Climatica, outside the Moon Palace.