The US based Chevron (formerly Texaco) is responsable for the damages resulted from the extracting activities that have been carried out since 1964 in over 1.5 million hectares in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The company admittedly spilled over 60 billion litres of toxic waste and approximately 650,000 barrels of oil in the area. The reparation, imposed by the Ecuadorean government, was carried out poorly, and resulted in a mere covering up which has had no effect on the damage and its negative effects, which still endure. In the affected areas cancer rates are extraordinarily high, and the indigenous peoples, including the Tetetes and Sansahuari who previously lived in the area are now extinct, while the Cofanes, Sionas and Siekopai risk a similar fate, as they have fled to other regions. Moreover, local farmers were left with infertile land and lost their livestock, which is dying or has died due to the contamination. In 2013 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ecuador condemned Chevron to pay 9.5 billion dollars of damages, thus recognizing that the company’s activities violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador – the first in history to recognize the rights to nature. Chevron, however, has refused to pay, claiming that the Ecuador judgment is “illegitimate and unenforceable” despite their previous request to be trialled there. History of the conflict In 1964, the “Junta Militar” that governed Ecuador granted Texaco Petroleum Company a concession of approximately one and a half million hectares in the Ecuadorian Amazon for the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons. Already in the initial exploration phase, the company perforated up to 350 oil wells that demanded an immense quantity of drilling fluid, a mixture of very toxic products used to lubricate the drill bits. This fluid was stored in over a thousand uncovered holes in the ground with no protection against its filtering. In the production phase, these holes were later used to deposit as well the “produced water” (the water released during the oil production) instead of the proper steel tanks that would have protected the environment, evidently resulting in huge savings for the company. Texaco then constructed a draining system that conducted these waters to the closest river, exposing the whole region to evident damage, a fact admitted by the legal representative of Texaco, who claimed that the company had spilled over 16 billion gallons of this water . The contamination of the ground and water of a region with high biodiversity and plentiful resources affected thousands of people that directly depended on the environment. The human right to food of the population was drastically violated, given their high dependency on these resources. The health risk posed by the toxicity in the environment resulted in a much higher rate of cancer among the inhabitants as well as several kinds of internal and external infections and problems in the respiratory, reproductive and circulatory systems. The relation between the oil activity in the area and the increase of these illnesses has been thoroughly documented. The economic impact should also be taken into account, as the rural population were left with infertile lands and conditions that would very unlikely sustain the life of their animals. In 1992, Texaco abandoned Ecuador. Three years later, Texaco did sign a $40 million remediation agreement with the Government of Ecuador that allegedly cleaned one third of the well sites, but the remedy was poorly executed and basically consisted in only covering them up with ground, more residues, tires, concrete, and in many cases some vegetation. Chevron Corporation and Texaco INC merged in 2001 into Chevron Texaco Corporation, and four years later the company adopted the sole name of Chevron Corporation. Attempts of Access to Justice Litigation processes took place since 1993, when up to 30,000 affected local residents and native communities filed a class-action lawsuit against Texaco in the District Court in New York for damages caused to their health and the environment. After nine years, the US courts finally accepted Chevron argument and rejected the initial lawsuit claiming that it was not the proper jurisdiction for the case. As a result, the affected initiated a new case in the Ecuadorian Amazon town of Lago Agrio. The new lawsuit in Ecuador claimed that Texaco (now Chevron) had knowingly used obsolete, improper and polluting practices in violation of the Ecuadorian law, which specifically demanded the use of “modern and efficient technology” and avoidance of harm to the ecosystem. In 2011 in a landmark judgement the local Sucumbios court sentenced Chevron to pay 9.5 billion USD in reparation measures (which would be doubled if the company did not publicly apologize) for the contaminated ground and water, for the creation of a health program to attend the affected population and for the recovery of fauna, flora and lost culture, to the Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia. The Ecuadorean Supreme Court later confirmed the court decision in 2013. However, Chevron has not complied with the sentence and refuses to pay the fine using all their resources and influence to escape justice. The role of the Architecture of Impunity During the 20 years of legal battle, Chevron has tried to pull all the possible strings to avoid the affected population’s access to justice. Several Wikileaks cables have shown their efforts to bring the American government to pressure for a favorable sentence (2). These cables even show contacts with officials from the Government of Ecuador offering to implement social projects to guarantee support in bringing down the case (3). Other leaks include internal videos from Chevron that show scientists hired by the company trying (unsuccessfully) to find non-contaminated soil days prior to the judge’s visit to the affected areas (4). Ever since the sentence was heard, Chevron has used all its resources to discredit the legal team of the affected populations as well as the Ecuadorian State and its judicial system. For instance, they started a legal (non-jury) proceeding in a New York court that accused the American lawyer representing the Ecuadorian communities, Steven Donziger, of alleged bribery and other corrupt misconduct during the trial. The company precisely appealed to the RICO (Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations) law to prevent the judgment’s enforcement in the United States. Chevron’s main allegation was that plaintiffs’ lawyers colluded with Ecuadorian officials to obtain a judgment against the corporation and that they even ghostwrote the text of the final ruling. On March 7, 2011, Judge Kaplan issued a preliminary injunction banning the execution of any Ecuadorean court judgment in any country outside Ecuador. The decision was struck down by the U.S. Second Circuit on September 19, 2011, which annulled Kaplan’s decision ruling that the RICO law was not meant to make its courts act “as transnational arbiters” (Court opinion of January 26, 2012). Moreover, the fraud allegations were mainly based on the deposition of Chevron’s “star-witness”, Mr. Alberto Guerra, a former Ecuadorean judge who first heard the Aguinda case. After having left this institutional position, he was contracted by Chevron to testify on its behalf, describing inexistent collusive dealings with the Ecuadorean plaintiffs before U.S.courts. However, Guerra’s testimony was contradicted by his own outstanding affirmations before the International Arbitration Panel in Washington DC during the Phase II of the Arbitrationbetween Chevron Corp. and Texaco petroleum Co. and the Republic of Ecuador (PCA CaseNo.2009-23, April 21- May 8, 2015), initiated in 2009 by the company. Indeed, simultaneously,the transnational has requested international arbitration against the State of Ecuador, utilizing theBilateral Treaty for the Protection of Investors between Ecuador and the United States. The BIT, however, was signed in 1997, years after Texaco left the country and thus committed its wrong doings. Despite suspicious links between some of the arbitrators and Chevron (and considering this arbitration mechanism has been known to be favorable to corporations) (6), the latest decision surprisingly rejected Chevron’s argument, as it ruled that the claims of private citizens were valid under Ecuadorian law and that they were not covered by the settlement (7). Actually, the arbitral panel cannot affect in any way the Aguinda ruling, because it has no jurisdiction over the Aguinda plaintiffs. In addition, the evidence presented by the Republic of Ecuador during the Arbitration demonstrates once again that the company’s claims of fraud are completely unfounded. Indeed, the findings contained in the Supplemental Expert Report of J. C. Racich, released on November 7, 2014, for the Republic of Ecuador, contradicted those provided by Chevron (the Lynch’s Zambrano Report of 2014), therefore undermining claimants’ conclusions. The affected communities continue to use legal strategies to access justice. Apart from the already mentioned, the campaigns are also suing the company in Argentina, Brazil and Canada, where the company still has assets and could thus guarantee a payment. With regards to the enforcement abroad strategy, it must be mentioned the crucial judgments plaintiffs obtained on September 4, 2015, released by the Supreme Court of Canada at last instance in the Chevron Corp. v. Yaiguaje case. The Court unanimously recognized the Canadian jurisdiction over the judgment enforcement claim made by plaintiffs, confirming a second instance’s decision. These two last decisions contradicted the Canadian trial judge’s ruling, who previously pointed to Chevron Corporation’s claimed lack of assets in the country. Instead, the Court of Appeal in Ontario at second instance recognized the due assistance that courts worldwide shall grant to the victims. For its part, the Canadian Supreme Court’s ruling addresses two main issues: firstly, whether and under what conditions it has jurisdiction to decide on the recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorean judgment; secondly, the court analyzes the existence of jurisdiction over the subsidiary, Chevron Canada. The answer of the Court is affirmative on the two fronts. Even if the Court’s verdict is only a step in the process of wining plaintiffs’ claim for compensation in Canada, the decision settled an important precedent not only for the Ecuadorian victims but also for other affected people fighting Chevron around the world. What Justice could do: a say from the PPT In a hearing that was held in Geneva in June 2014, the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) listened to the testimony of Pablo Fajardo and Oscar Herrera, from Unión de Afectados por Chevron-Texaco - UDAPT. Considering the evidence brought before the judges by these witnesses, the Tribunal recognized the actions of the transnational corporation as another example of violations of human and people rights. In line with its full judgement of Madrid, in May 2010, and just a few months before the session that was held in Mexico in December 2014, the PPT underlined once again how transnational corporations, including Chevron, systematically violate human and peoples’ rights to their own profit. In the same line, the PPT recognized in this widespread practice the current shortcoming of international law, namely the impossibility of accessing justice and obtaining a remedy that is increasingly becoming an unbearable burden for affected communities, as well as for the laws that are supposed to give them shelter. In the same spirit, the PPT acknowledged the necessity to improve international legislation, including through a binding treaty on transnational corporations, and a Peoples’ treaty, in order to hold transnational corporations accountable for their actions. Since several years hundreds of movements, NGO’s and affected communities are fighting to dismantle corporate power and proposed a binding treaty for transnational corporations and human rights. On June 2014, the UDAPT participated in a written presentation of Ecuadorian Chevron case before the UN Human Rights Council among several other cases. At this session, on the initiative of Ecuador and South Africa, the UN Human Rights Council voted a resolution for the elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights. In July 2015 the UN „Intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights“ had its first session where several NGO’s could contribute with their testimonies. Many of them are part of the campaign „Stop Corporate Impunity“ in which the Ecuadorian Chevron case has become an emblematic example to demand the in force corporate accountability. Different measures on international level could be examined to enforce sentences that can not be executed on national level for different reasons, such as economic and political interests. One of them is to change the Statue of Rome in order to include environmental crimes as crimes against humanity. October 2015, the UDAPT made a complaint against the Chevron CEO before the International Criminal Court in this perspective. Since then other movements such as the End Ecocide platform plead for a change of the Statute of Rome in order to include Ecocide as a crime against humanity. Other organizations and personalities work to promote the creation of an International Court of Environmental justice.