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13 Jul 2011

Center for Constitutional Rights, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Intl. Association of Democratic Lawyers, Intl. Commission of Jurists, Intl. Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Olivier De Schutter, Florian Jessberger

[PDF] Brief of amici curiae in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

The majority below conducted a flawed analysis of international law that led to an erroneous conclusion that corporations cannot be held liable for egregious conduct which rises to the level of a violation of customary international law. The majority ignored a well-recognized and often applied source of international law, namely the “general principles of law recognized by civilized nations.” Indeed, the only mention of general principles was a single reference in a footnote, in which the majority effectively dismissed general principles as an applicable source of international law, while continuing to focus narrowly on the issue of criminal liability for corporations...Focusing its inquiry on the treatment of corporations as a matter of customary international law, the majority rejected the “history of corporate rights and obligations under domestic law,” calling it “entirely irrelevant.”