Chevron's Legacy

Chevron's Legacy
The Pollution Chevron Left Behind...Shushufindi pit 38. Chevron's scientists found no contamination at this pit.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

These Three Men Think They Have Power To Kill The Ecuadorians' Judgment Against Chevron

Here's Why They Can't: It's Against The Law

These three men
Horacio Grigeria Naon

Vaughan Lowe

V.V. Veeder

think they can demand that the Government of Ecuador instruct its judiciary system to protect the interests of this man, the CEO and Chairman of the Chevron Corporation,

Chevron CEO John Watson

by undoing an $18 billion judgment in Ecuador against his company for massive contamination of the rainforest.

They are private arbitration lawyers who belong to a secret club, called the Permanent Court of Arbitration, otherwise known as a "Kangaroo Court." See this blog by the Rainforest Action Network.

They pretend to be part of The Hague, but they aren't. They simply have office space there, and they mostly meet in rented hotel conference rooms in cities across the globe. The lawyers sometimes act as "judges" on the panel, but other times they represent their corporate clients, making millions of dollars on each case. It's a very chummy club with everybody rubbing everybody's back -- except the impoverished people who are often harmed by their actions.

Of late, they and other lawyers like them have been abusing provisions found in bilateral investment treaties between countries to protect many multinational corporations -- Chevron being the most recent. See this link at Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch web site for other examples.

Here's how it works: Countries sign investment treaties with provisions designed primarily -- or so the countries thought -- to encourage economic growth and create jobs for their citizens. Sometimes corporations doing business in a foreign country don't like the way they are being treated, so they have the ability under many of the treaties to file an arbitration claim against the foreign government for relief. Mostly the claims are about commercial disputes that go before these private arbitration lawyers tasked with resolving the problem.

In the Chevron case, though, it's about much, much more.

The oil giant has convinced the panel to take an unprecedented step: demand Ecuador violate its Constitution by interfering in its judiciary system. The arbitration lawyers, meeting this weekend in closed-door sessions in Washington, DC, have ordered Ecuador to block enforcement of the Ecuadorians' judgment -- a violation of not only Ecuador's Constitution but international law and long-standing human rights treaties. Chevron and Watson aren't stopping there, though. They want Ecuador to pay the judgment or even have the case dismissed altogether.

Imagine the White House telling the U.S. Supreme Court -- only a few blocks from where the arbitration lawyers are huddled this weekend -- to dismiss a recent ruling. That is why Chevron wants to happen in Ecuador.

The whole thing is a charade and mocks the justice that the Ecuadorians seek after having their lives, land, and water ruined with toxic poison during three decades of oil drilling and exploration by Chevron.

Meanwhile, the Ecuadorians are not deterred. They are moving forward with their $18 billion judgment and are preparing to enforce soon in countries where Chevron has assets. Ecuador's government has ignored the panel's demand and is standing firmly behind the findings of its court system.

The Ecuadorians do not believe the findings of this kangaroo court will impact their ability to enforce in courtrooms, not in the control of a chummy, secret pack of expensive lawyers.

And, they have international experts from across the globe backing them up. See here and here . They have written the United Nations to protest that the arbitration's findings "offends ... legal systems" everywhere.

“Allowing (arbitration) panels to determine recognition and enforcement issues in private litigation transforms them into venues of final appeal in a way that was never intended and offends the inherent trustworthiness of legal systems around the world to determine matters for themselves,” they wrote.

Read this Courthouse News story for more details.


Visit Chevron Toxico.com to find out more. Become a follower of The Chevron Pit. SupportAmazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network. Follow us on Twitter at @ChevronPit.