23 January 2018

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An International Tribunal on Human Rights and Fracking

The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal will hear testimony from around the world to make a judgement on whether the effects of hydraulic fracturing have breached human rights norms.

"Fracking" (Image via Oregon State University)
The practice of extracting natural gas by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for its profound impacts on water, land, people, and climate change. To examine the morality of these impacts, an international human-rights forum called the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal has scheduled its next session on the topic of fracking. 
The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal on Human Rights, Fracking, and Climate Change will be held from May 14 to 18, 2018.
During the Tribunal, attorneys with expertise in human rights law will present evidence to a panel of international judges. The attorneys will build their cases with testimony from expert witnesses and those who have felt the effects of fracking first-hand. Between now and March 1, anyone who has been impacted by fracking can testify by submitting a statement online or by contacting Spring Creek Project, a co-organizer of the Tribunal.

For the first time, the Tribunal's proceedings will take place virtually, using Zoom conferencing software, and be broadcast live around the world. Viewers can watch the live feed via the Spring Creek Project Facebook page, and communities and organizations are invited to host live screenings.

While the Tribunal is not affiliated with a State and its ruling will not carry the weight of law, the collected testimony and resulting judicial opinion may be used in future legal proceedings taken against corporations or State actors that undermine human rights norms through fracking.

⏩ In conjunction with the Tribunal, Spring Creek Project will present the Bedrock Lectures on Human Rights and Climate Change, an online lecture series. Beginning January 31, the organization will release one new lecture each Wednesday on its Facebook and YouTube pages. 
This series, which will include about 20 speakers, will contribute to the important conversation about the nexus of human rights and climate change. Lecturers include Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org; Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth; and Josh Fox, documentary filmmaker of Gasland. 

6 Ways You Can Be Involved in the Tribunal
(From the Spring Creek Project Page)

Because the Tribunal is global in scope, many people around the world will have the opportunity to become involved, whether as a witness or a viewer. Here are ways you can participate:

1. Provide Witness Testimony. In preparation for the Tribunal, testimony is being gathered from those who have experienced the impacts of fracking. Anyone in the world can contribute their stories as testimony by the end of February 2018. Testimony could take many different shapes. It could be written or recorded; it could be a document, video, or photo; and it could be as brief or as elaborate as you wish. If you have testimony to share, we invite you to do so online through the Tribunal’s Witness Testimony page.

2. Hold a Pre-Tribunal. If you feel like your community has more to offer, you could organize a pre-PPT tribunal. Hosting one of these tribunals is an opportunity to empower your community to share their stories and make their own judgment. They have already been held in Athens, Ohio; Youngstown, Ohio; and Charlottesville, Virginia. To gather ideas about how you might structure a pre-tribunal, you can view footage from the Charlottesville mini-tribunal. For more details on organizing such an event, visit the Tribunal’s guidelines.

3. Watch the Tribunal Live. The judges and attorneys will be participating from around the world, convening through Zoom conferencing software. This is the first Tribunal to be held virtually, meaning a larger audience than ever before can follow along with the proceedings in real time. To access the live feed, check the Spring Creek Project website as we get closer to the start of the Tribunal on May 14, 2018.

4. Host a Community Viewing of the Live-Streamed Tribunal. You or your organization could arrange a live-streamed screening of the proceedings in your community. You could include a discussion period after the live screening to share reactions and ideas. 

5. Attend the Kick-Off Keynote. The opening day of the Tribunal, May 14, ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber will give a keynote lecture at the Whiteside Theatre in Corvallis, Oregon, at 7:00 p.m. on the topic of human rights and fracking. If you live in the Corvallis area, please join us. The lecture is free and open to the public. 

6. Spread the Word. We hope the Tribunal will help spark conversations and action about human rights, fracking and climate change around the world. Please help us spread the word by sharing this article with friends and on social media. 

About the Spring Creek Project:
The Spring Creek Project, an initiative affiliated with Oregon State University, engages the most urgent environmental issues of our time. Its challenge is to bring together the practical wisdom of the environmental sciences, the clarity of philosophical analysis, and the creative, expressive power of the written word, to find new ways to understand and re-imagine our relation to the natural world.

About the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal:
The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal is an influential, international forum that evolved from the Russell-Sartre Tribunal created to determine whether breaches of human rights norms occurred during the Vietnam War. Since 1979, it has conducted more than 40 high-profile hearings around the world to determine whether human-rights standards were abridged.