EDF’s windpark in Mexico

Indigenous community seeks access to justice in important hearing before Paris Appeals Court


Paris, 5 March 2024 - The civil lawsuit filed by Mexican indigenous community Unión Hidalgo against Electricité de France (EDF) in 2020 finally enters its next stage before the Paris Court of Appeals. Their case is the first to claim the violation of indigenous and collective rights under French Duty of Vigilance Law. 

In Mexico, French energy giant EDF has been planning the Gunaa Sicarú wind park project, located on the indigenous territory of Unión Hidalgo, since 2015. To this day, community members have not been adequately consulted, nor given their consent, about the use of their land by EDF – a clear violation of their human rights. The development of the project by EDF and its Mexican subsidiaries has also led to polarization within the community, intimidation, harassment and physical attacks against human rights defenders.

After almost four years, today’s hearing will finally determine if the case can proceed to a judicial assessment of whether EDF has complied with its obligation under French Duty of Vigilance Law.

In October 2020, Unión Hidalgo representatives, the Mexican organization ProDESC and ECCHR filed a civil suit against EDF in France. CCFD Terre-Solidaire, which advocates for the adoption of binding legislation on respect for human rights and the environment by companies, provides support in this case.

“For over three years, we tried to prevent further harm to our community. The French Vigilance Law clearly states that our rights must be protected,” says Guadalupe Ramirez, indigenous human rights defender and representative of Unión Hidalgo.

Under the Duty of Vigilance Law, EDF is obliged to respect human rights standards in its operations – including those of its subcontractors and subsidiaries operating in other countries. The claimants argue that EDF should have identified and mitigated the risks associated with the Gunaa Sicarú project, in particular, the violation of land rights and the right to free, prior and informed consent, as well as the risk of violence against land- and human rights defenders. These risks are known to exist in the energy and extractives sector, yet are still not adequately assessed within EDF’s vigilance plan.

The hearing today follows a decision in November 2021 that ruled the claim inadmissible, on the basis that the formal notice issued by the claimants did not refer to the same vigilance plan as the lawsuit filed in 2020, even though this is not an explicit requirement under the law.

The climate crisis calls for a global and prompt response. Renewable energy projects can play a legitimate role in this response. But they must not be at the expense of human rights, including social, economic and cultural rights.

Wer wir sind

Dem Unrecht das Recht entgegensetzen – das ist das erklärte Ziel und die tägliche Arbeit des European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).

Das ECCHR ist eine gemeinnützige und unabhängige Menschenrechtsorganisation mit Sitz in Berlin. Sie wurde 2007 von Wolfgang Kaleck und weiteren internationalen Jurist*innen gegründet, um die Rechte, die in der Allgemeinen Erklärung der Menschenrechte sowie anderen Menschenrechtsdeklarationen und nationalen Verfassungen garantiert werden, mit juristischen Mitteln durchzusetzen.

Gemeinsam mit Betroffenen und Partner*innen weltweit nutzen wir juristische Mittel, damit die Verantwortlichen für Folter, Kriegsverbrechen, sexualisierte Gewalt, wirtschaftliche Ausbeutung und abgeschottete Grenzen nicht ungestraft davonkommen.


Maria Bause
T: +49 30 69819797
M: presse@ecchr.eu

Philipp Jedamzik
T: +49 30 29680591
M: presse@ecchr.eu