Chevron Strikes Back
Chevron strikes back, and the pro-Ecuador NGOs are not happy about it.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — An “order” issued Thursday from a private investor arbitration panel purporting to freeze a nine-year environmental litigation against Chevron in Ecuador violates international law and will have little or no impact on any potential enforcement action against the oil giant in countries around the world, said representatives of the plaintiffs.
The latest move by the three-person investor arbitration panel, issued after a secret, closed-door hearing over the weekend that barred the rainforest communities of Ecuador from appearing, ordered Ecuador’s government to take “all necessary steps” to block enforcement of an $18 billion judgment against Chevron that was affirmed on appeal in early January following a nine-year civil trial, according to a source in the American law firm Winston & Strawn, which represents Ecuador’s government.
Interestingly, advocates seem to be demanding that Ecuador follow its own constitution instead of its obligations under international law. They declare that the tribunal’s award “violates” international law, but what does that mean? The Tribunal was improperly constituted? I think this next argument reflects their real thinking on this question.
“This arbitration panel has just lost the last remnants of its legitimacy by trying to order a sovereign nation to violate its own Constitution and quash the legal claims of citizens who are literally dying off in the rainforest due to Chevron’s pollution,” said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the 30,000 Ecuadorians who won the judgment against the oil giant.
I realize these NGOs are concerned with policy not law, but I wonder how many defenders of Ecuador will make similar “sovereigntist” arguments?