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[Introduction] Introduction

„The world has now acquired ample experience of industrial and environmental hazards. Lessons must be learned from these experiences so that those who have died and suffered will not have done so entirely in vain.“

Judgement of the Permanent Peoples´ Tribunal on Human Rights and Industrial Hazards, Bhopal, India, October 1992

The Permanent Peoples´ Tribunal (PPT) is an international court of public opinion, and is the permanent successor to the Russell Tribunals. The PPT is an independent forum that examines violations of the rights of peoples, and suggests remedies for such violations. As a quasi-judicial body, evidence is presented to a panel of 7-11 international judges chosen from the 61 members of the Tribunal, who are senior judges, scientists, writers, statespeople and artists from all parts of the world. The Tribunal submits its findings to the Secretary General of the United Nations, to other United Nations organisations as appropriate, and to other national and international bodies. Recent Tribunals include cases of human rights abuses in Guatemala and other countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank policies relating to structural adjustment and the legality of the conquest of America.

The Permanent Peoples´s Tribunal on Industrial Hazards and Human Rights convened four Sessions in New Haven, Bangkok, Bhopal and London since 1991 to receive testimony and deliberate on issues relating to the right to life, occupational health and safety, environment protection, risk management and damage reduction in the wider global context of hazardous production.

The PPT is deeply concerned by the frequency of small-scale but harmful hazardous events, as well as the magnitude and nature of major industrial accidents, including the incidents in Seveso, Chernobyl, Bhopal, Basel and elsewhere. We are concerned by the ineffectual national and international system of hazard prevention, post-disaster relief, medical and legal assistance and legal accountability which in their current forms have failed both to adequately prevent occupational and environmental hazards and to bring to account those responsible for world-wide deaths and injuries. We believe that urgent action is needed to prevent future degradation to human life, animal life and the environment and to adequately remedy the harms caused by industrial hazards.

Having drafted over a period of four years a Charter of Rights, designed to reflect the views and concerns of persons injured and distressed by industrial hazards, was issued on the second day of December 1994. This date was chosen to mark the tenth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. After one year of commentation and discussion the final version of the Charter was published in January 1996.
The Charter follows the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference of Human Rights and other relevant international human rights instruments. It was guided by the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, the Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment, the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and by International Labour Organisation conventions and recommendations.

We are convinced that new national and international systems of prevention, relief and legal accountability must be formulated and established!

The Coordination against BAYER-dangers that monitors the multinational BAYER since 1979 was engaged with the formation of the Charter and tries to support its spreading. Therefore we publish this bilingual brochure with the Charter and two examples concerning BAYER.