IUCN leadership refuses to criticize Korea’s destructive naval base that is killing numerous endangered species, and destroying indigenous communities. This stance from IUCN defies its traditional mission, conserving nature and a “just world.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress is the world’s largest environmental event. Held every four years, the 2012 World Conservation Congress  (WCC) will be held from September 6-15 on Jeju Island, the “jewel” of South Korea. Over 7,000 leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and social organizations will meet at this event.

Meeting just a few miles from Gangjeong village the IUCN has over and over again resisted requests from those living in the 450-year old fishing and farming community to help them protect their sacred nature and coastline from Navy base construction.  A five-year non-violent campaign rages in the village and more than 500 people have been arrested for attempting to block the destruction of their way of life.

While continuing to proclaim its devotion to protecting Nature through democratic process, IUCN leadership has ignored or whitewashed projects that are assaulting these wonders, and undermining human rights and sustainable livelihoods.

The naval base project, meant to become homeport for Korean and U.S. “missile defense” warships 300 miles from China, is threatening one of the planet’s last great soft coral reefs, and other coastal treasures, killing numerous endangered species (including one on IUCN’s famous Red List), and destroying centuries-old sustainable communities.

The Gangjeong villagers are being met with daily police brutality.  Such activities represent all that IUCN has traditionally opposed.  Samsung corporation construction division is building the Navy base and has made significant financial contributions toward the WCC.

On August 22, an official letter arrived from IUCN leadership informing the Gangjeong villagers that their request to host a small Information Booth at the convention was denied. No explanation was offered.

“The Korean government announced that it would not permit any demonstrations or even picketing within two kilometers of the Convention.  So, no speaker from the village or information table inside. No demonstrations outside.  We are disappointed because we thought the IUCN stood for democratic participation,” commented Sung-Hee Choi, a Gangjeong resident and member of the International Organizing Committee.

Gangjeong villagers continue to press for a chance to address the IUCN and for a public display booth at the event.  Efforts have been made to contact most of the thousands of IUCN delegates coming to the event and several have volunteered to introduce resolutions opposing the Navy base.  Villagers intend to invite IUCN members to visit Gangjeong and see the environmental devastation for themselves.

Concerned citizens around the world are being encouraged to send messages to IUCN demanding fair treatment for Gangjeong villagers.  Messages can be directed to:  jml@iucn.org, president@iucn.org, congressforum@iucn.org; congress@iucn.org;



Organizing Committee & International Support Group includes:

Christine Ahn

Global Fund for Women; Korea Policy Institute 

Imok Cha, M.D.


Jerry Mander

Foundation for Deep Ecology; International Forum on Globalization

Koohan Paik

Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice

Maude Barlow

Food and Water Watch, Council of Canadians (Canada)

John Cavanagh

Institute for Policy Studies (U.S.)

Vandana Shiva, Ph.D.

Navdanya Research Organization for Science, Technology and Ecology (India)

Walden Bello

Member, House of Representatives (Philippines)

David Suzuki

The David Suzuki Foundation (Canada)

Robert Redford

Actor, founder of Sundance Institute (U.S.)

Gloria Steinem

Author, Women’s Media Center (U.S.)  

Noam Chomsky

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.)

Raj Patel

Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First (U.S.)

Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ph.D.

Educator, Singer-Songwriter (U.S.)

Angie Zelter

Trident Ploughshares, (UK)

Matt Rothschild

Editor, The Progressive magazine (U.S.)

Susan George, Ph.D.

Transnational Institute (The Netherlands)

Galina Angarova

Pacific Environment (Russia)

Lagi Toribau

Greenpeace-East Asia

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

Tebtebba Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education (Philippines)

Lisa Linda Natividad

Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice (Guam)

Eugeni Capella Roca

Grup d’Estudi I Protecció d’Ecosostemes de Catalunya (Spain)

Sara Larrain

Sustainable Chile Project (Chile)

Korean Federation for Environmental Movement and Citizen Institute for Environmental Studies (South Korea)

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