Judith Kimerling

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Judith Kimerling "is a Professor of Law and Policy at The City University of New York, with a joint appointment at CUNY Law School and Queens College. After graduating from University of Michigan and Yale Law School, she worked for seven years as an environmental litigator, including five years as an Assistant Attorney General for New York State, where she worked on the Love Canal litigation and other hazardous waste cleanup litigation and negotiations. In 1989, she moved to Ecuador and worked with indigenous organizations in the Amazon Rainforest to document the environmental and social impacts of oil development there. Her findings and photographs first placed concerns about the impact of oil production on indigenous peoples and the environment in tropical forests on the international environmental and human rights policy agendas. Her book Amazon Crude was called "the Silent Spring of Ecuador" by The New York Times. In the U.S., it prompted a prominent class action lawsuit, Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc.

"Professor Kimerling currently serves as international counsel for Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (Defendemos Nuestro Territorio Huaorani), an alliance of indigenous Huaorani communities who came together to protect a 758,051-hectare area of rainforest known as "The Intangible Zone." Located in traditional Huaorani territory and the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, The Intangible Zone is also home to the last known group of people still living in voluntary isolation in Ecuador's Amazon region. Professor Kimerling also serves on the Technical Advisory Committee of REDOIL, a network of Alaska Natives of seven tribes who joined forces to address the impact of the oil industry in Alaska and promote sustainable development on Native lands.

"Professor Kimerling received The Field Museum's 2007 Parker/Gentry Award for "her courageous and relentless work on behalf of indigenous peoples, riverine communities, and vast, intact forests in the headwaters of the Amazon." She has been a Visiting Scholar at Yale Law School, and received a Special Achievement Award from Rainforest Action Network and a Feliks Gross Endowment Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement from CUNY Academy for Humanities and Sciences." [1] CV


According to the Multinational Report from 2001 "Judith Kimerling, a former NRDC attorney, who says she was fired because she disagreed with the strategy of negotiating with Conoco. Kimerling, who authored Amazon Crude, a report on the effects of oil drilling in Ecuador, says "They fired me because I disagreed with them, and I saw this initiative as a reversal of NRDC policy." She disputes the notion that Conoco is more environmentally sensitive than other companies, saying, "During [Conoco's] exploratory activities, I didn't see that they acted any differently than any other company." She also condemns NRDC's decision to ignore the concerns of Ecuadoran groups. "When the idea was first floated within NRDC, I objected.... I felt strongly that any reversal in policy should be directed from Ecuador and not from Washington."" [2] (critique of Jacob Scherr and Cultural Survival)


  • Judith Kimerling, Amazon Crude (Natural Resources Defense Council, 1991).
  • Judith Kimerling, El Derecho del Tambor, Ediciones Abya Yala, Quito, Ecuador, 1996, 215 pp. Spanish-language adaptation of two previously published scholarly works, "Rights, Responsibilities and Realities" and "Dislocation, Evangelization and Contamination," with new materials (Research funded by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation).
  • Judith Kimerling, Crudo Amazónico, Ediciones Abya Yala, Quito, Ecuador, 1993, 152 pp. Second Printing 1998 (black-and-white edition), Third Printing 2001, with periodic printings thereafter, to remain in stock. Spanish-language adaptation of Amazon Crude. Excerpts reprinted in Oilwatch, Acción Ecológica, 1996, pp. 74-75; and Amazonía por la Vida, Acción Ecológica, 1994, p. 57.

Selected Articles

  • “Transnational Operations, Bi-National Injustice: ChevronTexaco and Indigenous Huaorani and Kichwa in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador,” American Indian Law Review 31 (2007), pp. 445-508 (Symposium Issue on Land, Liberties, and Legacies: Indigenous Peoples and International Law).
  • “Indigenous Peoples and the Oil Frontier in Amazonia: The Case of Ecuador, ChevronTexaco and Aguinda v. Texaco,” New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 38 (2006), pp. 413-664.
  • “The Story from the Oil Patch: The Under-Represented in Aguinda v. Texaco,” Human Rights Dialogue, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, New York, Spring 2000, pp. 6-7.
  • "Dislocation, Evangelization and Contamination: Amazon Crude and the Huaorani People," Ethnic Conflict and Governance in Comparative Perspective, Working Paper Series, No. 215, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., 1995, pp. 70-99.
  • "Poisoning Ecuador's Oriente," Hemisphere, Vol. 3, 1990, pp. 6-7 (with Natural Resources Defense Council). Reprinted in Congressional Record, Proceedings and Debates of the 102nd Congress, 1st Session, March 21, 1991, by Senator Cranston for himself, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Kerry, Mr. D'Amato and Mr. Wirth.

Select Awards

  • Rainforest Action Network, Special Achievement Award, San Francisco, 1996.
  • The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Program on Peace and International Cooperation, Research and Writing Grant for Individuals, 1993-95.


Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Judith Kimerling, City University of New York, accessed November 3, 2009.
  2. Environmental Sell-Out, , accessed November 3, 2009.