Pre-PPT tribunals

Residents in locations where fracking is planned or already underway are encouraged to hold pre-PPT tribunals on the human rights dimensions of fracking in their location. Witness accounts, other evidence, arguments and findings from that pre-PPT tribunal can then be used in the plenary hearings to be held in May 2018.

Pre-PPT tribunals will address the question: Does sufficient evidence exist to indict your State on charges of failing to protect the human rights of persons impacted by fracking?

If you wish to hold a preliminary tribunal, please contact the PPT Session Steering Group about the timing of your pre-PPT tribunal and for ideas about how to begin the process.

Guidelines for pre-PPT tribunals

Any community that decides to hold a pre-PPT tribunal can choose any format that best fits the local situation.

1. The question for the tribunal

The question for judges to answer is: Does sufficient evidence exists to indict [your state] on charges of failing adequately to respect the human rights of citizens as a result of permitting hydraulic fracturing and other techniques of unconventional oil and gas extraction within its jurisdiction? A pre-PPT tribunal may focus its work on any or all of the six sub-cases (listed below).

2. Jurists

A pre-PPT tribunal can use one judge or a panel of 3-5 judges, usually respected members of the community.

3. Attorneys

Each Mini-tribunal can use prosecuting attorneys, both prosecuting and defense attorneys, or no attorneys at all.

4. Venue

The tribunal’s location will ideally be easily accrssible and held in a dignified physical setting. Alternatively, a pre-PPT tribunal may be held entirely online, perhaps using Zoom or other meetings software, or perhaps using something as basic as Skype.

5. Evidence

Evidence may include personal witness narratives, expert testimony, or any other testimony the group considers valuable.

6. Findings

A pre-PPT tribunal may last just one day (or longer), after which the judge or judges will weigh the evidence and arguments, and then write up its conclusions and perhaps recommendations.

7. Robustness (optional)

The more robust the proceedings the more reliable and respectable the findings resulting from them. Elements that contribute to increased robustness include:

  • the heft and quality of the submitted evidence, including reliability of personal testimony;
  • a panel of judges rather than a single judge;
  • selecting jurists familiar with human rights law, and selecting jurists and representatives of civil society of recognized character and wisdom who are held in high public regard;
  • including defense attorneys in the proceedings to insure that the evidence and arguments presented by the prosecution are sufficiently tested;
  • requesting PPT approval of the judges and representatives of civil society;
  • employing a structure for the Mini-tribunal that has been approved by the PPT.

The six primary sub-cases

  1. The human health case will address the human rights dimensions of adverse impacts on all dimensions of human physical and mental health.
  2. The environmental, ecosystem, hydrologic and seismicity cases will address the human rights dimensions of adverse environmental, ecosystem and wildlife impacts as well as impacts on air, surface water, groundwater and earthquakes.
  3. The fuels infrastructure case will address the human rights dimensions of exploration, drilling, fracking, extraction and delivery processes as well as of the infrastructure needed for transport, storage and export of product and waste (e.g., pipelines, storage facilities, waste treatment facilities, waste water disposal, LNG terminals, etc).
  4. The climate impacts case will address all the human rights dimensions, for both present and future generations, of fracking and climate change, including of governments’ continued subsidizing of fossil fuels.
  5. The public participation case will include the human rights dimensions of public participation (or lack thereof) in decision-making about unconventional oil and gas exploration, extraction and policy-making.
  6. The social costs case will address the human rights dimensions of social and cultural impacts on individuals, families and communities.


Reviewing one of the Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) of fracking may help pre-PPT tribunal organizers think about what kinds of testimony they would like to have submitted. Three HRIAs can be found on this page.