War on Want at the International Permanent People's Tribunal

16 August 2016 - 2:45pm

War on Want is at the International Permanent People's Tribunal being held in Swaziland from the 16-17 August 2016. The  Tribunal is hearing testimonies from Southern African communities on the impact of Transnational Corporations' (TNCs) unethical conduct.  Today, as we remember the 34 miners who were gunned down at Marikana for holding a strike four years ago for better wages and working conditions, members of the Marikana Justice Campaign will be giving testimonies at the Tribunal. The core of their message will be that no one has been held responsible for the killings. In addition, neither the mining company, Lonmin, nor the South African government, has paid any compensation to the families of the dead miners.


The Tribunal is a way of making visible the crimes perpetuated by corporations and to find ways to dismantle their power. War on Want is at the Tribunal to present our recently published research report, The New Colonialism which highlights the behaviour of British mining companies in Africa. The report shows, through case studies, the impact of tax dodging, the use of tax havens, environmental destruction, displacement of communities and the killing of activists in Zambia, Western Sahara, Madagascar and South Africa. $192 billion has been extracted out of Africa mainly in profits by TNCs, tax dodging and the cost of adapting to climate change.

 The journey of the Tribunal on corporate abuse is extensive. It navigates from the titanium in fertile Pondoland held on tribal land, to a problem that was thought solved in Zimbabwe’s Marenge diamond fields, through to the coal fields of the still highly indebted Swaziland and Mozambique. Further cases, such as that of Parmalat in Zambia, and the finance sector in Mauritius, will be heard in the second session to be convened in 2017. Jurors will also hear expert testimony on illicit capital flows, tax injustice and the political economy of the international trade and investment regime.

The panel of jurors include: 

  • Thulani Maseko (Swaziland) head of the banned Peoples United Democratic Movement and charged with sedition in his home country
  • Mireille Fanon-Mendes France (France) chairperson of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, and member of the Franz Fanon Foundation
  • Gianni Tognoni (Italy) Secretary General of the PPT
  • Lucy Edwards-Jauch (Namibia)  professor of  Sociology, gender and HIV expert
  • Donna Andrews a South African political economist,  eco-feminist with extensive work in debt, trade and climate social movements.

One of the objectives of the Tribunal is to unify the struggles of communities affected by corporate impunity and to combat TNCs “business as usual” practices. These practices have not only violated human and environmental rights but also shape policy and laws in countries in the south. Together with Northern governments, TNCs have been able to negotiate and secure the privatisation of public services, the appropriation of large swathes of land and common space, displacing communities and endangering food sovereignty. The Tribunal, together with its jurors are there to listen to the people's struggles and expectations. Gianni Tognoni a juror and Secretary General of the PPT (Italy) said that  “the Tribunal is here so that the people can present their cases not as victims but as true subjects of international law.” He went on to say that  the Tribunal seeks to change the national and international laws that assist TNCs. TNCs pretend that the laws of economic treaties are valid and they have been transforming even the language used. War on Want's mining report showed the complicity between the British government and British mining companies in creating a trading environment that was both extractive and destructive on African communities. 

The Tribunal aims to challenge international law by presenting testimonies and calling for an end to corporate impunity. War on Want's partners, the Amadiba Crisis Committee, Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and the Marikana Justice Campaign will be giving testimonies at the Tribunal. 




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