Private Tribunals of Conscience
Their History and Why They Matter
Ralph Fucetola, JD
Tribunals of Conscience and Crimes Against Humanity
Over the past century and more, various private Tribunals of Conscience have focused the moral judgment of humanity in situations where official bodies have either failed to hold violators of human rights to account or have been themselves the perpetrators of horrific acts that shock the conscience.
These nongovernmental, private expressive associations must be distinguished from international legal tribunals, such as the Nuremberg Tribunals and the International Court of Justice, which are examples of multinational courts established by governments under international law to try cases of making war and of war crimes.
International Criminal Tribunals
Discussing the impact of International Criminal Tribunals, a recent paper from the Netherlands noted,
“The idea that a ruler’s power cannot be absolute, that there must be standards beyond the ruler to protect his citizens, has become the foundation stone of international human rights law. But the idea of international criminal law, and international criminal tribunals, goes a step further. In the extreme case where the ruler commits or condones crimes against his people, it takes not only the formulation of norms, but also the administration of punitive justice out of his hands and up to the international level, even to the point where he himself can be tried on criminal charges. . . .
Yet the symbolic power of international criminal tribunals may be far greater than their legal authority and capacity would suggest. In the cases of Georgia and Kenya, the threat of an ICC investigation appears to be spurring national investigations. Above all, in the former Yugoslavia and in the situations the ICC is currently investigating, the existence of the investigations has given local civil society actors room to discuss “difficult subjects” related to the recent past, such as the occurrence of massacres, the use of mass rape as a political instrument, the use of child-soldiers, and the issue of accountability in whatever shape.” 
Crimes Against Humanity
International Law is ambiguous with regard to Crimes Against Humanity (CAHs).
“Unlike genocide and war crimes, which have been widely recognized and prohibited in international criminal law since the establishment of the Nuremberg principles, there has never been a comprehensive convention on crimes against humanity, even though such crimes are continuously perpetrated worldwide in numerous conflicts and crises. There are eleven international texts defining crimes against humanity, but they all differ slightly as to their definition of that crime and its legal elements.” 
While the phrase “Crimes Against Humanity” (Class C Charges) was used in the post-World War II imposition of “victors justice” against CAH perpetrators on the losing side, “the charge of crimes against peace was a prerequisite to prosecution—only those individuals whose crimes included crimes against peace could be prosecuted by the Tribunal. In the event, no [independent] Class C charges were heard in Tokyo…” 
The failure of governments to respond to public concerns regarding CAH necessitates and justifies private persons constituting themselves into private associations for the purpose of condemning violations of basic humane standards.
Before the earliest Tribunals of Conscience there were several important international campaigns which contained elements later developed by the Tribunals. These include campaigns against slavery which started even before the beginning of the 19th Century. Often led by concerns of conscience, by religious libertarians such as the Quakers, the anti-slavery movement included a major element of the Tribunals: the public condemnation of acts seen as immoral. 
Similarly, private commissions of investigation were established to oppose the horrific abuses in the Congo during the early 19th Century when that territory was a personal fiefdom of the King of the Belgians. Slavery enforced by brutalities, including dismemberment, was widely condemned and various private campaigns, often led by clergy, investigated and condemned the violations of humanitarian standards. It was one of those campaigns where the phrase “Crimes Against Humanity” was first used.  Later the phrase was used in reference to the genocide against Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. 
Tribunals of Conscience
Various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have sought to define “Tribunals of Conscience”.
The National Lawyers Guild, for example, has posited the following:
“A Tribunal of Conscience is a People’s Tribunal. Such tribunals date back more than six decades to the era of the Russell Tribunal on US war crimes in Viet Nam and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of People (Algiers, 1976). They provide an alternative forum for those who find no recourse in the formal institutions of the state or the international community. They are the place where the people judge the crimes of the state, not where the state judges the people.” 
Perhaps the earliest self-denoted Tribunal of Conscience was that convoked by B. Russell and J-P. Sartre regarding the War in Vietnam, in 1966. After two public sessions in Europe the Tribunal published a strong condemnation of United States’ actions in Vietnam in 1967.
Russel quoted Robert H. Jackson, the Chief Nuremberg Prosecutor, in justification of the establishment of the Tribunal:
“If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson 
The Russel/Sartre Tribunal encouraged subsequent private efforts:
“Additional tribunals have been conducted in the following decades on the same model, using the denomination Russell Tribunal. E.g., The Russell Tribunal on Latin America focused on human rights violations in the military dictatorships of Argentina and Brazil (Rome, 1973), on Chile’s military coup d’état (Rome, 1974–76), on the situation of Human Rights in Germany (1978), on the Threat of Indigenous Peoples of America (1982), on Human Rights in Psychiatry (Berlin, 2001), on Iraq (Brussels, 2004), and on Palestine (Barcelona, 2009–12).” 
These efforts have also continued beyond the Russel/Sartre model. The “Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal was established at the behest of a member of the Senate of Italy in Bologna in the late 1970s. It has held 46 sessions regarding separate Crimes Against Humanity over the ensuing decades.  These sessions have reviewed situations involving CAHs primarily against peoples who are not recognized as “nations”, such as the population of Western Sahara or the Kurds, who live in several Middle Eastern nations.
Other Tribunals of Conscience have included the 2009 Agent Orange Tribunal of the International Democratic Lawyers Association ; the 2020 Belmarish Tribunal regarding the persecution of Julian Assange ; and the 2019 China Tribunal which states:
“The China Tribunal is an independent people’s tribunal established to inquire into forced organ harvesting from, amongst others, prisoners of conscience in China and to investigate what criminal offences, if any, have been committed by state or state-approved bodies, organisations or individuals in China that may have engaged in forced organ harvesting. “ 
During the 2020-2021 period of the “Declared Pandemic” the Natural and Common Law Tribunal for Public Health and Justice was established to hold the perpetrators of what the Tribunal found to be the “Genocidal Technologies Pandemic” accountable. It entered a formal judgment against various state-actors, politicians, businesses and NGOs for their various roles in triggering the false-flag “pandemic” and rushing “unavoidably unsafe” vaccines, including novel class of “gene altering” injections into production and deployment. 
Humanity Benefits from Tribunals of Conscience
“What”, the skeptic may ask, “is the value of private Tribunals of Conscience to humanity?”
We live in a world where the promise of global peace and prosperity has become a distortion used to empower globalist elites with their demonstrated eugenocidal agenda (most recently, through the Declared COVID Pandemic), where relations among nation-states resemble the brutal behavior of thugs — a true Hobbesian international order. The new religion of this world is Statism, the worship of the institutions of the States, including their judicial institutions and administrative indiscretions.
As the lack of intellectual viability of Statism in its various racial, religious, national, international, bureaucratic, imperialist and other forms becomes increasingly exposed and become, perhaps, increasingly irrelevant in an economically globalized, blockchain-enabled, post-singularity world, an alternative to state-sponsored “justice” is needed.
The juridical subjects of International Law, “International Actors,” include nation-states (even micro-states like the Vatican), a certain few private associations (like the Red Cross or Sovereign Knights of Malta), and international agencies like the UN along with its associated institutions (such as certain privileged NGOs and “specialized agencies” — WHO and FAO, for example). Not included in this list are actual private persons, natural or cultural Nations, even juridical persons such as private associations and registered corporations.
The humans and human organizations with which we usually interact are missing from the globalist structure of international relations.
We individuals do not exist in the currently dominant Statist view of international law.
In the eyes of Globalist International Actors, we real people and our private associations are little more than disregarded entities. This state of affairs is entirely unsatisfactory to humane individuals.
Consider the long march of human history and how treating individual humans as objects led us to endless millennia of Statist imperial warfare, culminating the 20th Century’s killing fields and nuclear incinerations.
Consider the historic role of Statism in the imposition of what libertarian philosopher and lawyer Lysander Spooner saw as the Great Monopolies: the horror of slavery, vicious state churches, the legal “incapacities of women” and the King’s trade monopolies – all Statist institutions which have repeatedly perpetrated Crimes Against Humanity.
How can humanity trust the very Statist institutions which have so violated humane standards, by committing Crimes Against Humanity to exact meaningful justice for their own misdeeds, no matter how egregious?
Even as the vicious old concepts, chattel slavery, religious and racial bigotry, institutionalized inequality of women and various others, have become anathema to civilized people, the very concept a “sovereign” State, not subject to the same rule of law that applies to private persons, must also be rejected. States and their political elites must be subject to true Justice or there is no Justice.
Clearly, that justice will not come from the very source of the criminality. Private persons of conscience must take the lead to expose and publicly condemn Crimes Against Humanity. This is the role, which is of inestimable value to humanity, of Private Tribunals of Conscience.
Also posted at:
International Journal of Natural Health, Science and Policy