The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) is an international opinion tribunal competent to rule on any serious crime committed to the detriment of peoples and minorities. It was born in Bologna in 1979 in the context of the Universal Declaration of Peoples’ Rights (1976) and following the intuition of jurist and politician Lelio Basso, who transformed the experiences of the Russell Tribunals on Vietnam (1966-67) and on the dictatorships in Latin America (1973-76) in a permanent institution listening to peoples forced to deal with the absence of law and impunity.
The PPT has been recognized as one of the most active expressions within opinion tribunals which can now be considered a consolidated reality of the so-called “informal” international jurisdiction. These tribunals are set up to bring to light unheard cases of human rights violations and are activated at the request of social movements which, in the absence of initiatives by national, regional, or international courts, promote the establishment of bodies considered as more accessible forms of justice.
The PPT favors the participation of peoples and movements and works in favor of the effectiveness of the law, which today is severely tested by the challenges arising from globalization and economic impunity. In all these years, the Tribunal has built a work agenda for human rights on a global level, promoting activities of denunciation, documentation, interdisciplinary research, formulation of recommendations for the recognition of their interdependence and inviolability. The main areas of intervention of the Tribunal relate to:
- peoples’ rights;
- the relationship between law and economics;
- labor rights;
- common goods;
- environmental issues and the right to land;
- food sovereignty;
- liberation struggles for self-determination;
- the reappearance of war in international law;
To date, the Tribunal has held 49 Sessions around the world. It has favored the evolution of human rights in the international arena, highlighting their limits and priorities in each historical phase in which it exercised its function, and comparing the categories of law and the existing guarantee instruments with the direct experience of peoples’ life.
The Tribunal has highlighted numerous cases of serious violations of human rights, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. Due to the complexity of the phenomena investigated and the large-scale diffusion of violations caused by political and economic actors, the Tribunal’s field of investigation has extended to economic crimes, ecological crimes, and systemic crimes. According to its Statute, the latter is determined by “a sum of decisions taken over the years in various countries and which, for this reason, are not easily attributable to the responsibility of individuals, of certain States, of specific companies.”
The Tribunal is made up of a network of 70 internationally recognized experts and personalities, convened from time to time to make up the panel of judges for each Session. It represents one of the project expressions of the Lelio and Lisli Basso Foundation and is based in Rome.