30 000 indigenous people and farmers from Ecuador have been awaiting compensation for the serious environmental damages caused by Chevron in Amazonia for 23 years. ECCJ member, Sherpa offers its support by submitting an amicus curiae brief before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take over the case.

In 2011, affected communities achieved justice in Ecuador, and Chevron was ordered to pay 9.5$ billion as compensation for damages to the environment and the indigenous communities in the Amazonian rainforest. However, the company refused to comply with the sentence and pay for damages. To date, international and national justice systems have not been able to restore justice in this matter.

As the victims were unable to obtain redress in the United States, Canada, Brazil or Ecuador, they decided to bring the case before the International Criminal Court. Nonetheless, since it was brought to the ICC on 24 October 2014, the ICC Prosecutor has not yet begun an investigation.  

On 15 September 2015, the ICC made a landmark decision to potentially widen its remit to include environmental destruction cases. Following the ICC’s change of focus, Sherpa filed an amicus curiae brief, requesting the implementation of the international court’s jurisdiction extension in the Chevron case.

The ICC proved it can adapt to the current economic reality by considering extending its jurisdiction to cover environmental crimes. The next step should be filing a lawsuit against a corporation’s managing directors. The Chevron case could become emblematic in this sense. “This case gives the ICC an excellent opportunity to provide access to justice for the communities affected by multinational corporations,” said Marie-Laure Guislain, head of Litigation for Sherpa’s ‘Globalisation and Human Rights’ programme.

At a round table organised on 17 November 2016 by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), in partnership with the Club of Rome and Crowd Versus in Brussels, Marie-Laure Guislain will elaborate on the context of this legal battle, which involves issues related to the global economic system, transnational corporations and the international judicial system. The discussion will also address the existing legal instruments and opportunities to access justice, and the liability of multinational corporations committing environmental and human rights abuses. In addition to the Chevron lawsuit, other cases involving European multinationals will also be discussed.