CDES | 8 septembre 2018
Letter of solidarity with the victims of Chevron
The people who subscribe to this letter are women and men belonging to peoples, communities, social and collective organizations who work every day to defend human and and nature rights.
On 7 September 2018, the August 30 the arbitral award, issued by an international arbitration tribunal administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague was published.This Court was constituted under the auspices of the Treaty on the Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investments adopted between the United States and Ecuador in 1993 and denounced by Ecuador in 2017.
The Court ruled in this award in favour of the transnational corporation Chevron and its subsidiary Texaco, stating that Ecuador, in particular its judiciary, had breached various obligations under the investment agreement. In the arbitrators’ opinion, this violation is the result of the judgment issued against the oil company in 2011, condemning it to pay nine thousand five hundred million dollars for crimes against Human and Nature Rights caused by Texaco’s operations for more than 20 years in the Amazon. According to the arbitrators, this decision, which upheld a wide range of plaintiffs from indigenous communities and peoples affected by toxic waste, was obtained through fraud and corruption. With this argumentation, the arbitrators have woven a veil of impunity at the size of the oil company, which not only allows this transnational company not to comply with the judgment and not to compensate the thousands of victims, but also to obtain a huge amount of Ecuadorian public funds as compensation.
This decision is further proof of the legal impunity that trade and investment treaties grant to transnational corporations, allowing them not only to violate Human and Nature Rights without paying the consequences, but also to act against the monetary resources of sovereign states, constrained by the force of these treaties which, even when denounced, eventually prevail over human rights.
The signatories of this letter wish to express their rejection of this decision and their support for the people of Ecuador and the organizations that have defended the communities affected by Chevron Texaco, as well as their deep concern at the signals that have been sent to the Ecuadorian government regarding the Chevron case and its impact on the primacy of Human and Nature rights.
It is important to recall that Ecuador made history by including article 422 in the 2008 Constitution, which prohibits the transfer of sovereign jurisdiction to international arbitration bodies in contractual or commercial disputes between the State and private natural or legal persons. In the same vein, Ecuador has launched a major campaign to denounce crimes against nature committed by oil companies, in which world-renowned personalities have participated, supporting more than 30,000 people affected by Texaco’s toxic waste. Ecuador also promotes and supports the United Nations binding treaty process and chairs the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working group on Transnational Corporations (TNC’s) and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights whose mandate is to develop a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other corporations under international human rights law.
All these initiatives have received international recognition from thousands of human rights and environmental organizations and networks, who,dismayed and deeply concerned, are now looking to Ecuador and Lenin Moreno’s government.
Instead of defending its judicial system and the application of the right of access to justice in the country, as well as constitutional principles concerning investment treaties and the rights of affected communities and individuals, the Government of Ecuador issued a statement on 6 September in which it announced, already knowing the content of the arbitral award, which is still unknown to the public, that it would request the Attorney General to transfer any damage caused to the State in this case to representatives of the government of former President Rafael Correa. However, it should be noted that since Lenin Moreno’s government took office, he has indicated through various officials that he will seek “dialogue with Chevron”, as announced in September 2017 by Foreign Trade Minister Pablo Campana. Attention should be drawn to the fact that officials of the current government of Ecuador, such as Foreign Minister José Valencia, have spoken out publicly against Chevron’s violations in Ecuador. Therefore, have these current Ecuadorian government officials manipulated public opinion?
These are not the first setbacks of Lenin Moreno’s government, whose Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva published in June a draft binding treaty on business and human rights, with insufficient, inaccurate and deliberately undemanding content concerning corporate responsibility in human rights, which turns its back on four years of work on the international scene and wastes the efforts of global civil society to consolidate synergies on the international scene.
Concern about the drift of Lenin Moreno’s current government, which is turning its back on human rights and the well-being of the majority of the population, is increasing day by day, so the signatories have decided to take action to defend our colleagues affected by Chevron Texaco. In this regard, we call on the Ecuadorian Government to make transparent all information on the defence of the interests of the Ecuadorian State and the Ecuadorian people, on all dialogues held with Chevron. Similarly, we ask for an explanation of what its line of action will be to defend the rights of victims of transnationals in this case and as far as possible, as well as for the rectification of the line provided by its permanent mission in Geneva regarding the draft treaty presented behind the backs of civil society and those affected and affected by transnationals.
Our organizations fight against violations of these rights by transnational corporations, defend those affected, strive to end impunity for these companies and strive to achieve the full primacy of Human and Nature rights over policies to promote trade and attract investment. Ecuador has been an ally in many of these struggles, we hope that Lenin Moreno’s government will return to the path of defending Human and Nature rights against the power of transnational corporations.
Please spread this letter within your networks and contacts, we are seeking to increase the support of individuals or organizations wishing to show solidarity with those affected by Texaco.
If you would like to support this action with your organization or personally, send an email with your full name at: [email protected]
LAST DELAY: Monday 10 September at 3 pm Europa (8 am Ecuador).