ImageThe full extent of the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) which allows non-U.S. citizens to file suits in the U.S. for international human rights violations has been the subject of many debates in recent U.S. cases (Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain,KiobelBoimah Flomo I and IIExxon). This comment looks at the key points relied upon in recent decisions to reject the existence of a corporate liability principle under customary international law. The concurring observations of Judge Leval, who argued that the Kiobel decision might have kept the door open to major corporate abuses and created a precedent of corporate impunity, are especially relevant because they have been confirmed by more recent decisions. This comment also considers the arguments presented in the Kiobel re-hearing rejection regarding the policy impact of the decision and the policy-making role of U.S. tribunals. Finally, this comment questions whether U.S. courts should be expected to get involved in international justice, thereby risking being characterized as imperialist, self-appointed world judges.

The paper is availble here, and as a pdf version

By Antoine Martin.
While I questioned in a recent note some criticisms as to the ‘failure’ of US Courts to recognise the responsibility of foreign corporations for their activities abroad, it is interesting to emphasise briefly that the Canadian House of Common just rejected the idea of holding its mining industry liable for similar abuses.

The Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act

In April 2009 already, John McKay, a Liberal Member of Parliament, proposed the Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act before a sceptical Parliament (a first draft was passed in a vote of 137 to 133). Despite the protests of the Mining Industry, McKay re-presented the Bill last week. The facts, as he formulates, indeed “show companies involved in human-rights abuses, they show companies involved in using rape and murder as measures of security in order to secure their sites, they show companies operating without licenses in countries, they show significant environmental degradation.”[1]

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