Chevron

The case of Chevron shows how transnational companies not only threaten people’s struggles for their rights, but also undermine the right to a remedy for the very people who have suffered corporate human rights violations.

"Since the company arrived, our culture has been decimated,our children poisoned, our rainforest ruined, and Chevron dares to call us criminals?"
Emergildo Criollo, a leader of the Cofan indigenous tribe on whose ancestral lands the company first explored for oil in 1964

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The Case

In 2006, Chevron won the Public Eye Jury Award in the category Environment for polluting large areas of pristine rain forest in northern Ecuador. US-based Chevron bought Texaco in 2001 – the corporation that had caused the pollution by using sub-standard technology for a period of almost 30 years. Vast stretches of land and water inside the Amazon forest were severely contaminated by more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater, 17 million gallons of crude oil spilled, as well as hazardous waste and pollution caused by gas flaring. A health crisis among the local population continues to this day and has even brought indigenous tribes close to extinction. Unbelievable yet true, instead of carrying out a comprehensive clean-up, the company abandoned the polluted sites and never accepted responsibility for the harm done.

Nominating Organisation

What Happened Since

When a class action lawsuit filed in the US in 1993 was dismissed because the court considered Ecuador the more appropriate forum for litigation, a new claim on behalf of 30,000 affected people was brought to an Ecuadorian court demanding that the company undertake an environmental clean-up. In 2013, after an appeal by Chevron, the verdict was upheld by Ecuador’s highest court and Chevron was ordered to pay US$ 9.5 billion in damages and clean up costs. To date, Chevron refuses to accept the judgment on the grounds that it is illegitimate and unenforceable. Even worse, the corporation filed a racketeering lawsuit against the plaintiffs’ lawyers and representatives alleging they had conspired to extort billions of dollars from Chevron through Ecuadorian legal proceedings. Chevron even attempted to force advocates, human rights activists and journalists to disclose every detail of their communication with Chevron’s shareholders, the press and government agencies. As Chevron’s actions represent a continuous violation of their human rights according to the plaintiffs, the affected communities’ lead lawyers filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court in The Hague against Chevron’s CEO and its vice-president for crimes against humanity.

"Chevron’s CEO Mr. Watson and other high-level Chevron executives have promised the affected communities a ‘lifetime of litigation’ and said they would fight ‘until hell freezes over, and then we will fight it out on the ice‘."

− Paul Paz y Miño, Amazon Watch

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Why Chevron Should Get the Lifetime Award

Up until this day, the company rejects any responsibility for what is effectively one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet. Communities continue to suffer the consequences of the contamination to their territory. However, Chevron refuses to clean up the mess it inherited by acquiring Texaco. After over 20 years of litigation, the impunity continues for Chevron and the victims of Texaco’s activities in Ecuador are still waiting for justice and compensation. Moreover, communities in Africa, North and South America, Asia and Europe that are affected by the damages Chevron’s business practices have caused, also raise their voices to claim their rights. It is unacceptable that corporations such as Chevron brand the advocacy and activities of civil society organizations as conspiracies. The case of Chevron shows how transnational companies not only threaten people’s struggles for their rights, but also undermine the right to a remedy for the very people who have suffered corporate human rights violations.

Facts & Figures

  • Name: Chevron Corporation
  • Headquarters: San Ramon, USA
  • Industry: Oil and Gas
  • Turnover 2013: US$ 220 Billion
  • Net Income 2013: US$ 21 Billion
  • Employees: 64‘600
  • CEO: John S. Watson
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  • It’s never too late to take over responsibility. www.publiceye.ch #lifetimeaward
  • You deserve the @peawards #lifetimeaward! www.publiceye.ch
  • Are you sure you want to receive @peawards #lifetimeaward? www.publiceye.ch

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