This Session was historic in several respects
1. Pre-PPT tribunals
Four preliminary human rights tribunals on various aspects of fracking and climate change were conducted during the year prior to the plenary Session in May 2018.
The first pre-PPT tribunal was held in Athens, Ohio on May 13th, 2017 (The Athens News story here, report here); a second was held in Youngstown, Ohio on July 29th, 2017; a third was held in Charlottesville, Virginia on October 28th, 2017; and a fourth online pre-PPT tribunal was held in Australia during January and February 2018.
All witness testimony from each preliminary tribunal was video-recorded, transcribed and summarized in a written report, all of which were submitted to the PPT judges several months prior to the Tribunal for their review. During the Tribunal’s Plenary Session in May, representatives for each of those pre-tribunals orally presented and summarized their reports and were available for questions from judges about their preliminary tribunal.
2. Amicus curiae briefs
Seventeen amicus curiae briefs were submitted by fourteen attorneys and twelve directors of twenty non-governmental organizations in seven countries on five different continents. They each also presented and summarized their briefs orally and were available for questions from judges.
3. Fully online format
This Tribunal Session was conducted fully online using Zoom conferencing software. Judges, attorneys, witnesses and organizations submitting amicus briefs participated from locations around the globe. Reasons for using this format included that it 1) is less expensive, requires little or no travel and results in a much more limited carbon footprint; 2) allows participation from a wider variety of witnesses, attorneys and judges when travel is not required; 3) can be recorded and streamed live for viewing from anywhere in the world, both in real time and in the future; and finally 4) it models how an online format can allow easier access to human rights tribunals by resource-challenged communities everywhere.
4. Applies human rights standards to fracking and climate change
This was the first tribunal that assessed fracking from a human rights perspective and the first to look at climate change through a human rights lens.
5. Requests an advisory opinion
This was the first PPT Session in which petitioners asked the panel of judges for a formal Advisory Opinion on specific questions rather than indicting a defendant or defendants and seeking a verdict.
6. Rights of nature
This is the first PPT Session that included presentation of rights of nature testimony and arguments and asked the judges to consider those standards, along with human rights standards, in their deliberations.
7. Bedrock lecture series on human rights and climate change
This was the first PPT Session to include a fifteen week lecture series leading up to the Tribunal, the Bedrock lecture series on human rights and climate change. The series consisted of fifteen short (20 minutes or less), online lectures, one released each week prior to the Tribunal’s Plenary Session, presented by some of the most prominent scholars, artists and activists working in the field.
8. Complete court-reporter-certified transcript of all oral presentations
This is the first PPT Session to include a complete, searchable, court-reporter-certified transcript of all oral presentations, testimony and arguments presented during the entire week.