Session of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal

The European Union and Transnational Corporations in Latin America: policies, instruments and actors complicit in the violations of people’s rights

Friday 28 May 2010

In the context of the Peoples Summits, the Bi-regional network Europe-Latin America and the Caribbean Enlazando Alternativas, has organised two Tribunal Sessions in the framework of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) on “Neoliberal Policies and European Transnational Corporations (TNCs) in Latin America and the Caribbean”. These sessions exposed the violations of human rights, labour rights and environmental standards committed by more than 25 multinational companies based in the European Union and their subsidiaries (including Repsol YPF, Unión Fenosa, Suez, Unilever, Ence, Botnia, Shell and European banks such as BBVA and ABN-AMRO) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the first Tribunal in Vienna (2006), there were several cases against TNCs operating in the service sectors, infrastructure, energy, agro-food chain, fi nance and telecommunications, among others. The bi-regional process of documenting TNCs violations continued with a second Session held in Lima (2008), in which 21 cases were filed against TNCs involving 10 EU member states.

The PPT Session in Madrid, while bringing this work to a culmination will also open a new phase of work. It will be a moment to give visibility to the process and experiences accumulated in Vienna and Lima and other instances of PPT Hearings. This session of the Tribunal will focus not only on the TNCs but also on the European institutions, policies and actors who are complicit in creating an architecture of impunity for the operations of TNCs. In addition, the Tribunal will hear denunciations against the impunity of European TNCs and the impacts of their operations on the Rights of Peoples. The Tribunal will also initiate the debate on TNCs human rights violations in terms of “crimes against humanity.”

The evidence gathered, the experience of campaigns and cumulative conceptual advances during the process of the various Tribunals organized between May 2006 and May 2010, will be the basis to move forward towards new articulations and strategies that seek to dismantle the power of transnational corporations. In this way the protection of people and the planet will be affi rmed and moved towards practices of “living well” with a vision of collective well-being and global co-existence.

History of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal

The PPT is an international “opinion tribunal” independent of State authorities. It succeeded the tribunal for crimes against humanity committed by the United States in the war against the Vietnamese people (the Russell Tribunals). Inspired by the Italian senator Lelio Basso, one of the leaders of the anti-fascist resistance in Italy. From the Russell Tribunals were born various organisms that took on the struggle for human rights for peoples amongst which is the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) that has become a permanent structure. The PPT is made up of nearly 130 members, named by the council of the Lelio Basso International Foundation for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples.

Its function is to expose and qualify in legal terms these situations in which charges are made of crimes against humanity yet are not judged by legal bodies and therefore remain unpunished.

Up until today there have been over 40 sessions of the PPT, judging facts that have happened in many countries and involving situations from genocide to ecological crimes. Cases such as impunity in Latin America (Bogota 1991), the Conquest of America and International Law (Venice, 1992), Permanent People’s Tribunal on Global Corporation and Human Wrong (Warwick, 2000), neoliberal policies and European multinationals in Latin America and the Caribbean (Viena, 2006; Lima 2008),Transnational Corporations and the Rights of Peoples in Colombia - 2005-2008 (Berna, 2005; Bogota and Medellín, 2006; Chocó and Bogota 2007; Bogota, 2008).

Download the Press Dossier which presents the Jurors of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal and the cases presented (Argentine, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay)

PDF - 448.5 kb
Session of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, May 2010

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