The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) was established in Bologna in 1979 as a direct continuation of the Russell Tribunals on Vietnam (1966–67) and Latin America (1973–76). Lelio Basso, who had been a member and speaker, proposed that these celebrated tribunals be transformed into a permanent institution that could become an instrument and platform to give recognition, visibility and a voice to the peoples suffering violations of their fundamental rights, victims who, according to the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples, proclaimed in Algiers in 1976, were marginalized in international law, which had increasingly become the guarantor of the interests of the public and private holders of political and economic powers.

As declared in its Statute, the Tribunal’s competence extends to serious and systematic violations of the rights of peoples, whether committed by States, by authorities other than States, or by private groups or organizations. The Tribunal is competent to give judgements on any international crime, specifically on crimes against peace and humanity, genocide, any infringement of the fundamental rights of peoples and minorities, grave and systematic violations of the rights and freedoms of individuals. In the context of the global challenges introduced by the globalization and the financialization of the economy, the PPT has developed a new area of research on corporate crimes.

The PPT is built around an international network of experts, social actors and scholars from several countries of Europe, South America, Asia and Africa, recognized for their independence and competence. The characteristic of “permanency” and the selection criteria used in the appointment of its judges, renowned for their independence and expertise, have made this opinion tribunal a laboratory of denunciation and interdisciplinary research. In its 44 sessions and judgments, the Tribunal has accompanied the transformations and struggles of the post-colonial period, the development of economic neo-colonialism, globalization, the resurgence of war and the International Criminal Court’s declaration of non-competence for economic crimes.

The activity of the PPT is due to the lack of an international jurisdiction on peoples’ rights. In its judgments, the PPT has gone beyond the mere application of existing rules and has evidenced legal contradictions or gaps, in order to indicate forms of application and commitment of future positive law. Its long experience of research, analysis, and development of innovative criteria for the interpretation and promotion of the law have made the PPT one of the most active opinion tribunals for the expression of initiatives and movements that push for effective laws that can meet the growing challenges of globalization and economic impunity.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal is based in Rome, at the Fondazione Lelio e Lisli Basso, Via della Dogana Vecchia 5.