The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Carly Lettero, Spring Creek Project, Oregon State University,, Maura Stephens, Coalition to Protect New York,; 607-351-3766

International Tribunal Underway on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change

Cornell emeritus professor Anthony Ingraffea, ecologist/author Sandra Steingraber and local grassroots activists are among the contributors to this week’s proceedings.


The historic Permanent Peoples' Tribunal Session on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change began on Monday, May 14 and runs through Friday, May 18, live-streaming and archived online.

For the first time in its nearly 40-year history, this session of the PPT has an international focus and includes arguments about the rights of Nature in addition to the rights of people. Among those participating from our region are Cornell University fracking engineer and professor emeritus Anthony Ingraffea, Ithaca College scholar in residence, ecologist, and author Sandra Steingraber, and the grassroots Coalition to Protect New York (CPNY), represented by independent journalist and activist Maura Stephens.

The PPT is a highly respected international forum that grew from the Russell-Sartre Tribunal to investigate whether breaches of human rights norms occurred during the Vietnam War. It subsequently conducted hearings to determine whether human rights standards were abridged in Bhopal, Chernobyl, and other sites. Its most recent session was on Myanmar's (Burma's) crimes against Rohingya and Kachin peoples.

The current session focuses on the potential human rights violations of fracking and climate change. The judges will also be asked to consider the rights of Nature -- because the protection of a healthy environment may be a fundamental prerequisite for the protection of human rights.

Amicus briefs were submitted by attorneys and others representing nongovernmental organizations, including CPNY, on whose behalf cofounder Stephens will present evidence and arguments orally on Friday, May 18 at noon EDT.

Cornell's Anthony Ingraffea gave one of the critical Bedrock Lectures on Human Rights and Climate Change leading up to the weeklong tribunal, and Steingraber gave the keynote speech on Monday evening.

Earth jurisprudence attorneys from Scotland and Australia presented witness testimony and oral and written arguments addressing the session's central questions from a Nature-rights perspective, and a team of human rights attorneys offered witness testimony and reports from preliminary tribunals held in areas where fracking is used in oil and gas extraction.

Judges will likely spend several months reviewing the evidence and deliberating before issuing their opinion.

Attorneys, witnesses and judges convene via Zoom web conferencing software daily. The proceedings are being streamed on the Spring Creek Project Facebook page and archived within 30 minutes for viewing. A full schedule of daily Tribunal proceedings is posted on the Spring Creek Project website and on