Salvatore Senese, one of the founders and protagonists of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal throughout its 40 years of activity, and its President from 2003 to 2014, left us on June 16, 2019.

His history as a magistrate in the Italian institutional reality has been so intense and innovative in promoting the concrete, political and cultural autonomy of law as a guarantee tool especially for all the subjects and social classes most at risk of marginality and exclusion. This history has been recognized even beyond of national boundaries, both at the doctrinal level and for the organizational and institutional implications, as even more important in the particularly critical periods threatening the maintenance of a constitutional democracy in Italy. The essential elements of this contribution can be found at the Fondazione Basso website, and in particular:

His rigorous interpretation of law as a tool that anticipates, accompanies, defends, transforms the legitimacy of individual and collective struggles into reality, even legally usable, and that transfers the “principles and obligations” of fundamental rights to the real history of peoples, had a fundamental importance in the PPT history. The Tribunal has become progressively and flexibly, the instrument to make of its own substantial statute, the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples, a concrete platform for the ever-evolving spectrum of “liberation struggles” from the many and different neo-colonialisms at the regional and global level.

The memory of the life of Salvatore Senese does not belong to the past: it coincides with a forward looking memorandum for the challenges that international law must face, with increasing difficulty and urgency, to be an instrument and guarantee of a life in dignity of peoples in a world where the concrete significance of universal human and people’s rights is disappearing from the dominant political, economic, cultural discourse.

It would not be difficult to explore more directly the personal profile of Senese in the many Sessions in which he participated more actively, and in those he coordinated and guided as President. We had the gift of sharing over so many years the intelligence and the courage never tired of building, inseparably, doctrinal and operational bridges between the principles and the practices of law:  we must now only thank him for the density of his human values, transparency, accountability, without compromise, which remain as an essential inheritance for the style of working and the methodological integrity of the PPT.

Gianni Tognoni