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Speaking at Duke University Law School, Ambassador Nathalie Cely Details Ecuador’s Experience of Historic Pollution by Chevron-Texaco, and Outlines Need for International Legal Reforms

Durham, NC—Today, at Duke University Law School, Ecuador’s Ambassador to the US, Nathalie Cely, described her country’s experience with oil giant Texaco-Chevron which caused unprecedented damage to Ecuador’s Amazonian rainforest and indigenous communities. Citing Chevron’s ability to avoid legal or moral responsibility for decades, Ambassador Cely called for greater efforts by the international community to hold multinational corporations accountable for violations of environmental and human justice rights.

Ambassador Cely was speaking at the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum Symposium on Environmental Justice, which brought senior government leaders, legal experts, and academics, together to examine race, class, policy and the role of transnational corporations in the fight for environmental and social justice around the world. Charles Lee, Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice and one of the pioneers of the environmental justice movement, was among the guest speakers.

“When Texaco-Chevron left Ecuador, it left unprecedented damage to the Amazonian rainforest and no compensation to those affected,” said Ambassador Cely during her Symposium address. “Together we must fight to have a binding international framework that will ensure multinational [companies] respect the rights [of citizens].”

For more than a decade, Texaco-Chevron has employed every judicial maneuver imaginable and waged an aggressive PR and lobbying campaign against the indigenous plaintiffs, their attorneys, the government of Ecuador and all who seek justice to distract from the fact that the oil company’s irresponsible drilling practices caused unprecedented damage.

“Our country’s efforts alone cannot sufficiently address the need to transform investment treaties and arbitration mechanisms for sustainable development,” added Ambassador Cely. “That is why Ecuador seeks to bring together stakeholders from around the world, including the United Nations, other concerned countries from our region as well as Europe, Africa, Asia, and key civil society voices in order to establish a global set of fair minimum standards and regulations that will hold transnational corporations accountable when they invest and obtain reasonable profits.”

The Symposium’s theme “Reflecting on 20 Years of Domestic and International Law Policy” commemorated the twenty years since President Bill Clinton’s executive order which mandated that “each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission.”

An in-depth article by Ambassador Cely titled “Responsible, Sustainable, & Profitable: A Possible Yet Challenging Balance – Lessons Learned from the Chevron case in Ecuador” will be published in an upcoming issue of the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum.

To view the recorded webcast of the Symposium, please visit: