The Тrial of the Century

Dear citizen of Kirkenes, Finnmark, Norway, the Barents Region and Earth.

You are hereby summoned as both Judge and Jury to


Thursday, 9th of February – Day of the Prosecution

Friday, 10th of February – Day of the Defence

Saturday, 11th of February – The Judgement Day

Venue: The Pavilion Park, Kirkenes City Centre
Simultaneous interpretation to English and Russian available

This People’s Tribunal is an alternative staging of the ground-breaking lawsuit where Norwegian environmental organisations Greenpeace and Nature and Youth are suing the Norwegian Government for allegedly allowing unconstitutional oil exploration in the Barents Sea.

The legal proceedings will take place in Oslo District Court – politically, geographically and culturally far removed from the Arctic areas most directly affected by the developments.  Therefore, The Trial of the Century finds it timely to offer the citizens of the Barents Region the possibility to give their verdict on one of the largest and most important dilemmas of our time. The People’s Tribunal may also serve as a general rehearsal for the actual court case later this year.

As expert witnesses for the prosecution and the defence, the Public Tribunal has summoned, amongst others:  Kari Elisabeth Kaski, Mimir Kristjanssson, Rune Rafaelsen,  Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen, Bjørn Samset, Niillas Aslaksen Somby, Terje Søviknes, Stine Østnor, Terje Traavik, Ingrid Skjoldvær, Jan Martin Nordbotten, Ole-Gunnar Rasmussen, and Luba Kuzovnikova.

Prosecutor: Hans Petter Graver, jurist lawyer and professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo.

Defence: Morten Grønvigh, senior lawyer specialised in offshore/maritime industry.

The Tribunal arena will be designed and constructed for the purpose and occasion by the artist Peder Istad, and will be the largest ice sculpture ever made in Norway, inspired by Arctic landscapes and the issues contested in the lawsuit.

Environment and/or employment? End of the world as we know it and/or a new dawn for the Arctic? Democracy and/or minority rule? White elephant and/or golden calf? Reality and/or theatre? You be the judge…

The Norwegian Parliament, with a large majority vote, approves of the red-green government’s (at the time the Labour Party, the Socialist Left Party, and the Centre Party) proposal to open the South-East Barents Sea for petroleum activities. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy invites oil companies to nominate areas – so-called “blocks” –  which should be part of the 23rd licensing round.

The Norwegian Parliament approves the Constitution’s § 112

The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum announces the 23rd licensing round.
“By initiating petroleum activity in the south-eastern Barents Sea we reach yet another milestone for Norwegian petroleum activities. For the first time since 1994, we will explore an entirely new area on the Norwegian Shelf. This will generate unique possibilities for value creation, growth and employment opportunities, particularly for Northern Norway” says the then current Minister of Petroleum and Energy (Progress Party).

In the same period, the government proposes a management plan for the Barents Sea by defining the retreating Artic Sea ice edge as running further north than before – a move that will free more areas for petroleum activities. A heated public debate ensues, and the proposal is sent back to the government without approval.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy awards ten new licenses, all of which are located in the Barents Sea, to a total of 13 oil companies in the 23rd licensing round.

The environmental organizations Greenpeace Norway and Nature and Youth sue the government for breaching the Norwegian Constitution by allowing petroleum exploration and potential extraction in the Barents Sea.  Their main claim is that any
oil extraction “will affect the environment in such a way that it poses a real risk of extremely negative consequences of increased global warming as a result of higher emissions of greenhouse gases.” The case is filed in the Oslo District Court. 

The Norwegian State, represented by the Attorney General, accepts the lawsuit. Part of their reply states that: “The Norwegian Parliament has received proposals to stop the 23rd licensing round three times in recent years (by The Green Party(MDG) in 2014, KrF/V/SP/MDG in 2015 and SV in 2016, respectively), based on arguments that in their nature are almost identical to the lawsuit. (All the proposals were rejected by a large majority). This illustrates how the lawsuit is an attempt to use the courts to overturn a decision made after technical and democratic deliberation with the support of a broad and publically elected majority.”

A parallel version of the ongoing lawsuit is staged as a Peoples Tribunal during Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes. The verdict is made by the audience, who serve as both judge and jury, through direct vote on the final day.

Produced by Traavik.Info and Pikene på Broen

Concept and director: Morten Traavik

Ice architecture and design: Peder Istad

Assistant director and research: Ragnhild Freng Dale

Producer and research: Guro Vrålstad

Sound design: Jørgen Træen

Music: The Megaphonic Thrift+ and Inge Bremnes

Animation design: Komposter

Costume and props: Lena Thorsmæhlum

Venue cleansing ritual: Ronald Kvernmo

Assistant ice engineers: Marius Engan Johansen, Fabian Probul, Taibola (Ilia Kuzubov, Aleksei Maklakov, Nikolai Terentev, Daniil Vlasov)

Machines and equipment: Svein Karisari, Bygg & Maskintjenester AS, Knut Jakola Transport AS, AS Oscar Sundquist

Graphic design: Valnoir

Thursday 09/02/17 Friday 10/02/17 Saturday 11/02/17

17:00 - 18:30

The Norwegian Constitution, § 112:

«Every person has the right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained. Natural resources shall be managed on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations, which will safeguard this right for future generations as well.»

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