Internacional Tribunal of Concience: The case of Ayotzinapa and Disappeared in Mexico, Sept. 25-26, NYC


 INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL OF CONSCIENCE OF PEOPLES IN MOVEMENT (ITCPM):  Founded in 2010, inspired by the premises of the original Russell Tribunal, which convened in Stockholm, Sweden in 1967 under the leadership of Bertrand Russell, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre. The Tribunal serves as a forum to articulate and advocate for the human rights of victims worldwide and to hold accountable nations whose social, political and economic policies undermine the capacity for self determination and the ability of all peoples to live free of poverty and violence.  The current focus of the ITCPM is on human rights violations associated with migration and the movement of children and families across borders. ¨Peoples in movement¨ refers to our framework for addressing issues related to the rights of migrants, refugees, and displaced persons, who we approach as collective subjects of rights, including an increasing number of migrants of indigenous origin with collective rights pursuant to international law. The ITCPM is a project of Fuerza Mundial Global, under the leadership of Dorinda Moreno.


CORE ASSUMPTION: The ITC´s approach emphasizes that most migration and displacement is in fact involuntary and is produced by structural processes and conditions of poverty and inequality beyond the control of their victims. These conditions are exacerbated by the xenophobia, racism, and gender biases which characterize migration policy in the U.S and throughout the world, to the detriment of the peoples of the Global South.


CORE DETERMINANTS: Militarization, securitization, criminalization, externalization, and regionalization together define the essential elements of the hegemonic paradigm of migration policy which has been imposed on a global, regional, and national scale post-9/11. Migrants are reduced to the status of being commodities and transformed into a cheap, exploitable global reserve army of labor that is structurally essential to capitalist globalization and to capitalism itself, as slavery was between the 16th and 19th centuries.


LEGAL FRAMEWORK: Sources in existing law providing normative bases for recognition of a universal right to freedom of movement include Articles 13 and 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, and their equivalents in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which is intended to give legal force to the normative content of the 1948 Declaration. These provisions and their interpretations by the International Court of Justice, and the Inter-American and European human rights courts, recognize rights to “freedom of movement and residence” within the borders of one´s own state, and to “leave any country..and to return” to one´s own place of origin (Art. 13), and to “seek and enjoy…asylum from persecution” (Art.14), together with the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families, whose adoption by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 1990 has given rise to the commemoration each year on that date by migrant rights movements around the world of “International Migrants Day”.  These frameworks have been limited by their appropriation by forces contrary to the pursuit of justice and very limited enforcement mechanisms.


CASE STUDY: The massacre in August 2010 of 72 migrants in transit of Honduran, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Ecuadorian and Brazilian origin in San Fernando, Tamaulipas in Mexico (where additional mass graves were found with 200 other still unidentified bodies a few months later) was a “crime against humanity” that was the “predictable and preventable” result of ongoing genocidal Mexican state terror against migrants in transit in complicity with narco-paramilitary forces, aligned with key sectors of the country´s national and local ruling élites, immigration agents, police, and military as the result of the U.S-imposed “drug war”, within the context of the country´s militarization pursuant to the ”national security” component of NAFTA (the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership), the Mérida Initiative (or “Plan Mexico”, modeled on Plan Colombia), and the Mesoamerican Initiative, formerly Plan Puebla Panamá. The case of the massacre was presented by Mexican church-based defenders of the rights of migrants in transit and by members of the caravan of family members of migrants who have disappeared en route to the U.S from Honduras, as part of the mounting toll of 20,000 migrants “kidnapped” and ¨disappeared¨ each year in Mexico since 2007.





In 1967 Bertrand Russell, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre founded the Russell Tribunal which sought to apply the Nuremburg Principles to the U.S. war crimes and crimes against humanity in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.  Subsequently, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal evolved to carry forward the work of the Russell Tribunal, and similar Tribunals focused on specific contexts such as Iraq, Palestine, and the Philippines.


In 1979, the Secretariat of the Permanent People´s Tribunal (PPT) was founded as  successor to the Russell Tribunal. The PPT has played a key role in developing alternative conceptions of global justice in diverse contexts.  Under the leadership of Italian jurist Lelio Basso the PPT held the first hearings focused on widespread human rights violations resulting from military dictatorships in Chile and Argentina during the 1970´s.


1980: The Bill of Rights for the Undocumented Worker adopted on April 30, 1980 at a historic international conference in Mexico City which brought together Chicano activists from the U.S with their counterparts in Mexico, affirming equal constitutional and labor rights for immigrant workers, voting rights in state and local elections (and in elections in countries of origin) for those who become legalized, rights of residency for immigrants as workers and taxpayers- regardless of immigration status- as well as rights to be “free of deportations” and of violations of rights in the course of factory raids, to family unity, legalization, equal health and educational services, and linguistic and cultural rights (including bilingual education and to conduct official or private business in one´s native language). All of these together amount to a right to freedom of movement. This Bill of Rights was incorporated by reference as a key framework for the ITC in its Charter.


1984: The PPT was the first international body to characterize Guatemala´s policies against the country´s indigenous peoples as ¨genocide¨ (which eventually led to the trial and conviction, later overturned, of its former president Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide in 2013; a new trial on these charges is currently underway). Participants in the PPT´s international jury during this period included renowned Latin American writers Gabriel García Márquez and Julio Cortázar.


October and November 2010, initial hearings of the ITCPM held in Mexico City, Mexico and Quito, Ecuador. The ITCPM was convened as  counter-hegemonic alternative to the the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Mexico, and as a complement to the IV World Social Forum on Migration (WSFM) in Ecuador.  The ITCPM was the first tribunal of its kind to focus on issues regarding violations of the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees, and displaced people throughout the world. Related activities in Mexico City in November 2010 included the III International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR3, sponsored by the International Migrants´ Alliance- IMA)), and the Caravan of Migrant Dignity which began in Honduras, were represented in Mexico City, and culminated in special sessions of the Tribunal in Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and related protests.


The Tribunal´s founding documents, Charter, and declarations following the hearings in Quito and Mexico all emphasize the need to obtain full recognition of a universal right to freedom of movement derived from Articles 13 and 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (as interpreted for example by the International Court of Justice in its Consultative Opinion regarding the Israeli wall in Occupied Palestine), and interpret this concept to include not only: 1) a right to migrate, but also 2) not to migrate, and 3) not to be forcibly displaced.


2011 – 2014: Hearings organized by the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) with a focus on human rights violations in Mexico.  These included seven different thematic components, including one focused on issues related to processes of migration, refuge, and forced displacement centered around specific cases such as the San Fernando massacre and mass graves, the continuing struggle for justice of Mexico´s braceros, and the Acteal massacre of displaced indigenous peoples in Chiapas of December 1997. The opening general hearing of this process was held in Ciudad Juárez in June 2012.


TRIBUNAL OF CONSCIENCE (ITCPM special hearing regarding the ongoing human rights crisis in Mexico, September 25-26, 2015 in New York City: The dates are timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the Ayotzinapa disappearances, and with the opening annual sessions of the UN General Assembly which will include what is sure to be a widely covered speech by Pope Francis at 11 AM on September 25. Our idea is have the Ayotzinapa case as a definite center of gravity for purposes of raising awareness about it and solidarity, but at the same time to put this case in a much broader framework focused on Mexico´s overall human rights crisis and the role played by U.S aid (military, police, NAFTA, etc.). The tribunal will also be a key follow-up item building on the national momentum generated by the Ayotzinapa caravan which culminates in NY on April 26, and which will include a preliminary tribunal on April 24.  In addition, the meeting will serve to follow up on the conclusions and recommendations of the PPT process in Mexico.  Important frames of reference will be reports and recommendations regarding human rights violations in Mexico from the UN, the Inter-American and European human rights systems, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Mexico’s national network of human rights organizations and their supporters throughout the world.  Standards pursuant to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Nuremburg Principles, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and derived from the work of critical scholars of human rights and international law will also be applied to specific cases and patterns and practices involving generalized abuses


Web Links:

Entrevista a Camilo Pérez Bustillo y Dorinda Moreno sobre el Tribunal Internacional de Conciencia

Russell Tribunal:

World Social Forum on Migration:;

Nuremburg Principles:

Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT):;

Greg Grandin:,

Marcial Godoy-Anativia:

NYU´s Institute for Hemispheric Studies of Performance and Politics:

Pope Francis´ speech/September 25:

Pope Francis Comments/Mexico:;

Background to the ITCPM:

Call for the ITCPM: (see attachment)

Summary of conclusions of the ITCPM:

news articles:

Childhood, Migration, and Human Rights:

Fuerza Mundial Global:

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