Geneva – UNHRC – June, 2014





During the UNHRC 26th Session

23 – 27 June 2014

In Geneva (Switzerland) and in decentralized actions around the world

 Social movements demand access to justice for those affected by corporate human rights violations and ecological crimes!


In June 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will discuss the adoption of a resolution to establish a legally binding instrument to enforce binding rules regarding human rights and Transnational Corporations (TNCs).

As a result of ongoing violations of human rights by TNCs such as the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh that killed 1,132 factory (mostly female) workers, the 2012 Marikana massacre of 34 miners in South Africa, the ongoing destruction caused by Shell in Nigeria’s Ogoniland and by Chevron in the Ecuadorean Amazon as well as the human rights violations linked to the Cerrejon Coal mine in Colombia – along with countless others – the need for radical action to control the devastating violations by TNCs has never been more urgent.

In order to push the UNHRC to adopt this type of binding Treaty, a coalition of social movements, networks and civil society organizations is organizing a full week of mobilization.

The goal of the week of mobilization is not only to pressure the UNHRC on the issue of binding norms for TNCs but also to expose the global political and economic ‘Architecture of Impunity’ that has been protecting the operations of TNCs at the expense of human rights for decades through Investment Agreements (and arbitration tribunals such as World Bank’s ICSID), through the WTO, and a long history of IMF imposed structural adjustment programs now replicated in Europe through the Troika & Competitiveness Pact policies and a number of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), as well as bilateral FTAs such as NAFTA, FTA EU-Colombia, TTIP, TPP and TISA, among others. 

In the face of intensifying and increasingly egregious corporate human rights violations and ecological crimes, impacted communities and social movements demand access to justice and a definitive end to the systematic impunity which prevails for transnational corporations.

The Week of Mobilization to Stop Corporate Crimes and Impunity will take place from 23 to 27 June 2014 in Geneva during the last week of the 26th session of the UNHRC, when the Council will be deciding on this initiative.

This week of activities represents an important convergence moment for social movements and Civil Society Organizations to collectively work for a more profound and effective system to defend human rights from corporate violations, especially the rights of those affected by the environmental crimes and other human rights violations of transnational corporations.



International / Regional / National movements, networks or organizations outside of Switzerland

Treaty Alliance, Campaign Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, ESCR-net, Friends of the Earth International (FOEI), World March of Women, FIAN International, Transnational Institute, Franciscans International, Working Group on Investment in the Americas, Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD), Oidhaco  (Oficina Internacional de Derechos Humanos – Acción Colombia), Social Movements for an Alternative Asia(SMAA), CADTM (Comité pour l’Annulation du Tiers Monde), ODG (Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalización) Catalunya, OMAL (Observatorio de Multinacionales en América Latina), Ecologistas en Acción, Polaris Institute Canada, Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) – Global Economy Project, Alternative Information & Development Center (AIDC) South Africa, Col.lectiu RETS Catalunya, WoMin (Women in Mining) South Africa, Centre for Trade and Policy Development in Zambia, Tax Justice Network – Africa in Kenya, Jubilee South-Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) Philippines, SENTRO Trade Union Center Philippines, ATTAC Japan, Migrant Forum Asia, Transnational Migrant Platform, Platform of Filipino Migrants in Europe, Focus on the Global South, EU-ASEAN FTA Campaign Network


Swiss movements and organizations

Comité du Forum Social Lémanique, ATTAC Switzerland, et solidaritéS, Coordination Climat Justice Sociale, CETIM, L’Autre Syndicat, UNITERRE





Corporate giants go on trial for human rights abuses in Geneva

Tribunal hears cases of corporate violations highlighting the need for a global treaty


June 23, 2014, Geneva (Switzerland) – Eight transnational corporations, including Shell, Chevron and Glencore, go on trial today in Geneva for human rights violations committed around the world.

The cases will be heard in a special session of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal organised by the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power & Stop Impunity at the Maison des Associations between 9 am and 6 pm. Monica Vargas from ODG-Debtwatch in Barcelona, a main organizer of tribunal, stated that “The testimony that we will hear today prove that a binding treaty is sorely needed in order to provide victims of corporate crimes access to justice.”

The Tribunal will examine cases that confirm that the United Nations’ present Business and human rights regime, which relies on voluntary guidelines rather than legal obligations, is woefully inadequate to deal with ongoing corporate violations. The voluntary approach has merely continued the systemic denial of access to justice for the victims of corporate abuses.

• Victims of the decades-long oil pollution caused by Chevron in the Ecuadorean Amazon and of Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria will present their cases that illustrate the long-standing impunity by big oil companies.
• The mining industry will also be on trial through the troubling cases of Swiss mining giant Glencore in the Philippines, Peru, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. Cases will also be presented involving the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim in El Salvador and of United Kingdom based Lonmin in South Africa.Other cases will discuss how human rights have been systematically violated by the Coca-Cola Company in Colombia; by Israel’s water services company Mekorot in Palestine; and by the Spanish Hydro dam company’s operations in Hidralia in Guatemala.

The Tribunal’s jury, composed of a panel of experts including international lawyers, members of parliament and prominent academics, will hear the testimony of victims’ representatives and present a conclusion about the operations of the accused corporations according to existing international human rights instruments and the fundamental need of access to justice.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal will take place in parallel with the 26th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, where Ecuador has led an initiative by over 80 member countries seeking to start the process for developing a binding treaty to punish TNCs for their violations. The proposal is being staunchly resisted by the EU, US, Japan and others that are the host nations for the large majority of transnational corporations.

”It is disturbing that governments in the European Union, Switzerland, Japan, Canada and the United States are more concerned with defending the interests of their corporations than the human rights of peoples,” said Brid Brennan from the Transnational Institute and the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power.

Fr. Joy Pelino from the Filipino movement opposing Glencore/Xstrata’s (GX) activities in the Philippines stated that the “company has committed numerous human rights violations including the killing of Bla’an

leaders and some members of their family who oppose mining activities in the area, and has desecrated people’s freedom, dignity and identity.” Pelino asserted that “GX’s monstrosity should be stopped and justice needs to be served now.”

The Geneva Peoples Permanent Tribunal provides an opportunity to the victims of corporate violations to publicly present their struggle and to demand the justice that they have never achieved. More generally, it aims to provide a truthful and authoritative account of the operations of TNCs and their repercussions on human rights. Through these testimonies an international audience will recognise the urgent need for a binding international legal instrument that can enforce human rights obligations for transnational corporations.

The judges for the session include the Law professor and researcher Juan Hernandez Zubizarreta, from Hegoa Institute, Basque Country; Francesco Martone, jurist and Senator in the Italian Parliament; Roberto Schiattarella, professor of Economics and vice-president of the Lelio Basso Foundation; and Jean Ziegler, former Sociology professor, former member of the Swiss Parliament, and former UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food.

About the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power

Launched in June 2012, the Campaign was established to facilitate a cooperative movement of solidarity between existing local, national and global movements and networks in order to increase the visibility of resistances to transnational corporations (TNCs) violations around the world. For more information and to see a list of participants and signatories please see:

About the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal:

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal was established on June 24, 1979 by Lelio Basso, lawyer, Senator, and writer, one of the “fathers” of the Italian Constitution. It is a so-called ‘opinion tribunal’, inspired by the experience of the Russell tribunals on Vietnam (1966-1967) and Latin America dictatorships (1974-1976). It bases its activity on the 1976 Algiers Declaration on the Right of Peoples. The PPT raises public awareness of legal shortcomings affecting the marginalised communities and peoples non-recognised as subjects of rights, in order to provide voiceless victims with a stand of visibility and a possibility of claim, recognition and remedy of their rights.





Tuesday, 24 June 2014, 14:00-16:00
Palais des Nations, Room XXIV

The Human Rights Council is currently discussing a proposal by Ecuador and other countries to develop binding norms on human rights and transnational corporations (TNCs). This initiative was supported by 85 countries in a joint statement presented to the Human Rights Council in September last year.

Hundreds of social movements and civil society organizations have been demanding a binding international treaty and supports this initiative that could potentially increase access to justice for the victims of human rights violations committed by TNCs.

This side event will present five emblematic cases of human rights violations committed by TNCs in developing countries. The representatives of the victims will testify and describe the obstacles they are facing in trying to get access to justice and remedy. The side event will provide evidences of the gap that exists in human rights international law and make the case for a binding international treaty on TNCs. A Peoples Treaty developed by social movements and organizations will be presented.


Melik Özden, Europe Third World Centre (CETIM)


Pablo Fajardo, Lawyer defending the victims of Chevron in Ecuador
Environmental destruction and human rights violations by Chevron in Ecuador

Beverly Keene, Jubilee South
Permanent Peoples Tribunal-Geneva Hearing

Goodwin Ojo, Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
Environmental destruction and human rights violations by Shell in Nigeria

Abeer Al Butmeh, Stop the Wall / Pengon Palestine
Violation of human rights and right to water by Mekorot in occupied  Palestinian territories

Javier Correa, Sinaltrainal, Colombia
Violations of human rights, labor and trade-union rights by Coca Cola in Colombia

Erika Gonzalez, Global Campaign Dismantle Corporate Power and OMAL
Peoples Treaty Process

Saul Baños, National Roundtable against Metalic Mining in El Salvador
Violations of human rights and state sovereignty by Oceana Gold in El Salvador