Contemporary Challenges and Continuing Relevance
Edited by Franco Ferrari and Diego P. Fernández Arroyo
Diego P. Fernández Arroyo and Laura Carballo Piñeiro
Arguably, no legal controversy in the history of private international law has generated as many and as complex conundra as Chevron. More significantly, few other cases have shown as clearly the links between economic globalisation and the litany of contemporary disasters linked to disregard for the state of the planet and the livelihood of its poorest inhabitants. In this respect, the various lawsuits draw attention to the exhaustion of natural resources, widespread environmental destruction, and the plight of local populations. The case also illustrates the structural incapacity, the functional inaptitude, or perhaps the political unwillingness of private international law tools to provide a solution to this kind of dispute. Furthermore, it displays the artifice behind corporate architecture and the risk of global stalemate inherent in the iterative recourse to both domestic and international jurisdictions. The heart of the dispute is ecological harm allegedly caused by the exploitation of an oil-rich area called Lago Agrio in the province of Sucumb'os, Eastern Ecuador. The immediate damage includes water pollution, soil contamination and deforestation and, subsequently, illness suffered by the local population. The Lago Agrio villagers and forest-dwellers filed a first set of lawsuits against the American-based company Texaco Petroleum (TexPet) before the US federal courts. TexPet was part of the oil-production consortium in Ecuador along with the State-owned oil company (Petroecuador) from 1964 to 1992. At the end of this venture, Petroecuador signed an agreement releasing TexPet from environmental liability.