The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal is an international opinion tribunal founded in Bologna (Italy) on June 24, 1979 at the initiative of Senator Lelio Basso.
History and Functions
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP) was formally born in Bologna in 1979 as a direct continuation of the experience of the Russell Tribunal II with Latin American dictatorships (1974-1976), promoted by Lelio Basso to denounce the crimes committed by the military regimes of the region. The will of the people and the victims of Latin America, the changed the occasional nature of Russell Court and it became a permanent forum of complaint for communities experiencing the absence and impotence of international law. Therefore, the TPP is a grass-root initiative and the result of the need to create an independent tool for researching and analysing for the cognitive, cultural and doctrinal development needed to start the process of liberation and justice of the people. The TPP's work is characterised by its subsidiary nature. Just as the Russell Tribunal, the existence of the Permanent People’s Tribunal is due, even today, to the absence of a competent international court to rule on the allegations and claims of individuals conceived in their collective dimension. In its decisions, the PPT goes beyond the recognition of criminal responsibility in order to produce truth, memory and moral reparation.
The work of the TPP is based on the principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples proclaimed in Algiers in 1976 and the main international instruments protecting human rights. The historical and geographical context of the Declaration, known as the Charter of Algiers, clearly links the general principles of the Declaration for the liberation struggles—which Resolution 1514 (XV) of the United Nations of 14 December 1960 had already put under the protection of international law—with the understanding that the right to self-determination could not be proclaimed as fulfilled and that it did not involve only the political phase of decolonization.
The scope of the concept of self-determination expressed in the Charter of Algiers must relate to the context and the principle of “freedom” which is not limited to a particular time and place and has, in this case, not an individual but a collective subject which is precisely, the people. In the Charter of Algiers and, therefore, in the Permanent People’s Tribunal, the principle of self-determination serves as legal support and target indicator of the struggles of peoples whose sovereignty is at risk due to external and internal forces the Tribunal has documented from 1979 to date. As is the case with the principle of self-determination, the concept of people in the Charter of Algiers is not unique, but rather presents a contextual or political significance not limited to a strict definition by the Declaration, but left to the free interpretation of those who, now and then, have used its principles over the years. According to the Charter, peoples are important collective subjects but marginalized by a law designed for States as the only recipients of rights, including the individual and collective dimensions in a single legal system serving both individuals and peoples.
The peoples in the history of the TPP belong to different groups with different needs, aspirations and real tragedies, which control the materiality and binding force of an international law continuing to be fragile. The original idea of the Russell Tribunal II and the TPP lies in the awareness that the formal recognition of the principles and rights is the starting point of a process of liberation in which collective identities, called “Peoples,” are the main actors. This process requires a permanent collective demand for the feasibility and applicability of these principles, recognized in many international law instruments.
The Court is composed of a president, four vice-presidents, a secretary general and 66 international members, all recognized experts from different disciplines such as law, economy, sociology, arts, and literature.
Sessions of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal
Since its establishment until today, the Tribunal has held 42 sessions on numerous cases of human rights violations. Its specificity, expressed in the TPP’s Statute, lies in applied research to cases of crimes against peace and against humanity, to cases of genocide and to crimes—not yet established—attributable to economic and political activities promoting poverty, inequality, exclusion. By observing the chronological development of the meetings, it is evident that the work of the Permanent People’s Tribunal is within the evolving framework of international law. The story told in the judgments of TPP traces a map of the last thirty years of the history of peoples and matches many of the most representative ties and challenges for the peoples and the law, in the context of historical situations where States or private actors (transnational corporations) weaken or create obstacles for the intervention of the international law.
The judgments of the TPP (www.tribunalepermanentedeipopoli.fondazionebasso.it) rely almost exclusively on sources of existing international law. However, it is important to remember that many of the judgments have gone beyond the mere application of existing rules and have evidenced legal contradictions or gaps, in order to indicate forms of application and commitment of future positive law.
List of the Permanent People’s Tribunal’s Sessions
42. Living wage for Asian garment workers as fundamental human right (Sri Lanka 2011; Cambodia 2012; India 2012; Indonesia 2014; Sri Lanka 2015)
41. Fundamental rights, local community participation and infrastructure projects (Torino-Almese, 5–8 November 2015)
40. Session on the Canadian mining transnational corporations (on-going)
39. Sri Lanka and the Tamil People II (Bremen, 7–10 December 2013)
38. Free trade, violence, impunity and people’s rights in Mexico (Mexico, 2011-2014)
37. Session on agrochemical transnational corporations (Bangalore, 3–6 December 2011)
36. Sri Lanka and the Tamil People I (Dublin, 14–16 January 2010)
35. Transnational corporations and the rights of peoples in Colombia (Colombia, 2006-2008)
34. The Philippines II (The Hague, 21–25 March 2007)
33. The European Union and transnational corporations in Latin America: policies, instruments and actors complicity in the violation of peoples' rights (Madrid, 14–17 May 2010)
32. Human rights violations in Algeria, 1992-2004 (Paris, 5–8 November 2004)
31. International Law and the new wars (Roma, 14–16 December 2002)
30. Global multinationals and “human distorted” (Warwick, 22–23 March 2000)
29. Elf-Aquitaine (Paris, 19–21 May 1999)
28. Violations of the fundamental rights of children and adolescents in Brazil (Sao Paulo, 17–19 March 1999)
27. The rights of workers and consumers in the garment industry (Brussels, 30 April-5 May 1998)
26. Chernobyl: environment, health and human rights (Vienna,12-15 April 1996)
25. Violations of the fundamental rights of children and minors (Trento, 27–29 March; Macerata, 30 March; Napoli 1–4 April 1995)
24. Crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia II (Barcelona, 7–11 December 1995)
23. Crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia I (Bern, 17–20 February 1995)
22. Asylum right in Europe (Berlin, 8–12 December 1994)
21. Industrial risks and human rights II (London, 28 November – 2 December 1994)
20. Industrial risks and human rights I (Bhopal, 19–23 October 1992)
19. Tibet (Strasburg, 16–20 November 1992)
18. The conquest of and international law (Padua-Venice, 5–8 October 1992)
17. Impunity for crimes against humanity in Latin America (Bogotá, 22–25 April 1991)
16. Brazilian Amazon (Paris, 12–16 October 1990)
15. Porto-Rico (Barcelona, 27–29 January 1989)
14. The policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank II (Madrid, 1–3 October 1994)
13. The policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank I (Berlin, 26–29 September 1988)
12. The interventions of the United States in Nicaragua (Brussels, 5–8 October 1984)
11. Armenian Genocide (Paris, 13–16 April 1984)
10. Guatemala (Madrid, 27–31 January 1983)
9. Zaire (Rotterdam, 18–20 September 1982)
8. Timor Orientale (Lisbon, 19–21 June 1981)
7. Afghanistan Il (Paris, 16–20 December 1982)
6. Afghanistan I (Stockholm, 1–3 May 1981)
5. El Salvador (Mexico, 9–12 February 1981)
4. The Philippines and the Bangsamoro people (Anvers, 30 October-3 November 1980)
3. Eritrea (Milano, 24–26 May 1980)
2. Argentina (Genève, 3–4 May 1980)
1. Western Sahara (Brussels, 10–11 November 1979)