Extractive fossil fuel corporations Shell and Total are hurting communities around the world. Both saw their enormous profits double in 2022, to $40 and $36 billion respectively, at the expense of the health and wellbeing of people living on the frontlines of extraction. But communities are fighting back. In May 2023, whilst the companies and their funders meet in London, the people most affected by their violence in Africa will share their testimonies and take action. Fom the Niger Delta and South Africa to Mozambique and East Africa, the people of Africa are putting Shell and Total on trial.
The People’s Health Tribunal will bring together communities across Africa that have been affected by Shell and Total’s extractive activities. By sharing how extraction has caused harm to their health, their communities, and their land, participants will
- Hold fossil fuel corporations to account
- Raise awareness of key struggles across the continent
- Share learning between communities resisting extractivism
- Build solidarity and action in the global North
- Strengthen existing legal and extra-legal campaigns against these companies
- Deliver a verdict centred on deep reparative justice.
Movements across the world are standing in solidarity, demanding that these huge polluters are held accountable, with reparative justice delivered for communities affected. Shell, Total, and other fossil fuel giants, and the big banks that finance them make their decisions in London, the historic heart of empire built on the exploitation of people and land in the Global South. This tribunal will bring the verdict to them.
Running over two sessions on May 13th and May 20th, everyone is welcome to join the tribunal to bear witness to the health impacts of environmental injustice and learn about shared struggles.
What is the People’s Health Tribunal?
This will be a people’s tribunal, focused on African resistance against extractivist violence and its health impacts. The explicit targets are mock class action suits against Shell and Total – with 5 testimonies against each, and a jury and judge to deliver a verdict, through the lens of radical reparative justice.
In particular, the Tribunal will highlight the health impacts of these industries and what healing looks like for the communities affected.
The core organisers of this action are the People’s Health Movement, Medact, Race & Health, Tipping Point, We the People Nigeria, Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), and Stop EACOP. The main testimonies will be from movements in the Niger Delta, South Africa, Mozambique and Uganda.
The judges are movement leaders Nnimmo Bassey, Kanahus Manuel, Dimah Mahmoud, Jacqueline Patterson and Richenel Ansano. The process of designing the tribunal has been developed over a year of co-creation guided by African organisers.
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The Tribunal will occur over two days – the 13th and the 20th of May 2023 – with testimonies from directly affected communities in South Africa, the Niger Delta, Mozambique and Uganda, these dates deliberately coincide with ‘AGM season’ for oil companies and the Africa Energies Summit in London, which will be targeted as part of actions alongside the Tribunal.
The tribunal will be available worldwide online. The online event will be interpreted in English, French, Arabic, Spanish and Swahili. In the lead-up, during and after the tribunal activists in the UK (and elsewhere if possible) will also be taking direct action against the funders of Total, the African Energies Summit and Shell.
Whilst the Tribunal will be taking place online, organisers are also inviting and encouraging people and communities to come together physically in a place to watch and participate in the Tribunal through Community Watch Parties. These are a way for communities to reflect on the testimonies and collective health impacts of Shell and Total, connect to an internationalist community fighting extractivism, and build power for transformative change.
The tribunal team also have a small budget dedicated to support groups on the frontlines of climate violence to organise a Community Watch Party. For example, this can support costs associated with a venue, funding people’s travel, food and drink, and internet access. Learn more about this here.