Why is it important for the people of Portugal?
Currently 15 licences have been awarded, and in the wings 7 new licences will be granted in the very near future. This means that with the rapid advance and awarding of these concession licences for the exploration of fossil fuels in Portugal’s offshore and onshore to international and European oil and gas corporations, and taking into account that fracking and other non-conventional methods and process have been contractually granted by the Portuguese government, the time to take real action is NOW!
Taking part in the PPT tribunal action will enable all interested Portuguese citizens and residents with an opportunity to voice their concerns to an independent international human rights people’s tribunal that is focused specifically on fracking and other oil and gas drilling and exploration issues – issues that will have a direct impact on them, their surroundings and their environment and on future generations.
We at ASMAA support the knowledge that we are in fact seeing the violation of the rights of future generations to have the environmental, social and economic resources that they will need, and as a result we can’t just stand idle and do nothing to stop it.
Why was a Permanent Peoples' Tribunal on Fracking formed?
The main reason for a tribunal on fracking is the passionate concern and need to hear the voices of the affected. By putting fracking on trial in a human rights tribunal, the hearings themselves will usher in a potential change in how civil society, governments and industry frame their arguments for and against extracting the planet's remaining fossil fuel resources.
It will no longer be possible to ignore, with impunity, the human rights implications of unconventional oil and gas developments. Fracking is a classic case in which human rights and the environment come together. The environmental and human implications of these processes are profoundly entangled.
What is Fracking?
The process of hydraulic fracturing involves pumping fluids under high pressure underground to crack shale and other source material to stimulate the release of hydrocarbons. The PPT uses the term "fracking" to refer to the extraction of unconventional sources of oil and gas from all types of materials such as shale, coal-bed methane/coal seam and tight sands. This type of fossil fuel development has come to be known as extreme energy.
What will the PPT Tribunal do?
This PPT tribunal session also examines the whole assemblage of actions, processes and operations involved.
Unconventional oil and gas extraction involves a complex development process that not only relies on fracking, but also requires land and mineral rights acquisition, water rights acquisition, pad construction, well drilling, casing, hazardous waste disposal, well plugging, and abandonment, as well as associated infrastructures such as waste injection sites, waste treatment facilities, roads, water impoundments, storage facilities, gas and hazardous liquids pipelines, compressor stations and export terminals. All of these can have implications for affected communities.
The tribunal will therefore examine evidence from all stages of the development process and the full range of human rights implications from all of these processes, including, but not limited to, fracking itself.
Why was Fracking chosen?
"Fracking" has also been chosen because of its iconic status as an issue blending human rights and environmental considerations on a truly international scale.
Over the past 10 years, unconventional fossil fuel developments and fracking have been taking place all over the world, with the United States leading the way in technology, financing and promotion. In the past six years, the growth in fracking has seen the United States emerge as a leader of natural gas and related materials production globally, leading some to tout a "shale revolution" that has changed the face of global energy markets and shaken the foundations of certain geopolitical alliances.
All of this growth in unconventional gas and oil development has boomed despite local public opposition and increasing numbers of citizens claiming that their rights to clean drinking water, clean air, food safety, economic self-sufficiency, housing, information about hazardous materials and toxics, and access to appropriate health care have been violated or ignored. That this is now a global phenomenon occurring across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and includes nations in Latin America, Eastern and Southern Europe as well as Southeast Asia.
Many of the human rights allegations emerging around fracking have been targeted at corporations taking part in or funding the developments. However, corporations and other non-state actors do not yet bear direct human rights duties under international human rights law. That solemn duty lies firmly on the nation-state.
Nation-states and local governments, not corporations, are also the authorities tasked with approving or denying permits and implementing and enforcing the environmental and public safety laws that were created to protect citizens and ecosystems.
That is why this PPT process will consider the indictment of nations, rather than corporations; it is vital to establish a precedent addressed to those that bear the direct legal responsibility to uphold human rights norms and the rule of law.
Since 2011, only two other assessments of human rights obligations related to hydraulic fracturing have been completed, one for New York State and the other for the United Kingdom. This PPT session will offer a particularly powerful analysis of the issues and create a powerful precedent to inform future legal actions all over the world.
ASMAA - Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association
Celebrating the pristine beauty of the Algarve and helping preserve it for the future.
ASMAA is a private Portuguese not-for-profit association complying with all its statuary aims and objectives. ASMAA actively collaborates with many NGOs on various issues that can potentially have a negative effect on the environment. ASMAA has actively been involved since 2012 in the fight against oil and gas exploration in Portugal, with a special focus on the Algarve offshore and onshore.
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The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT)
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.
The PPT process is based on international law and requires a rigorous examination of facts and context. Once a session is concluded, the verdict and resulting reports are widely disseminated to social movements, state institutions and diverse United Nations commissions.