John Ruggie asks whether Shell, in its arguments in Kiobel lawsuit in USA re alleged abuses in Nigeria, should "aim to destroy an entire edifice for redressing gross violations"

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Company response
10 September 2012

Shell response to “Issues Brief” by former UN Special Representative on business & human rights John Ruggie

Author: Shell

The role of the Supreme Court is to interpret existing law and not to write new law. Shell respects the role of the Supreme Court to fulfil its constitutional role. History and the facts show that Shell has been an advocate of corporate social responsibility (CSR). A Board level CSR Committee oversees the company’s policies and performance with respect to the Shell General Business Principles. Professor Ruggie’s paper states that the Kiobel case may be useful to prompt conversation on a series of questions about the interfaces of business, law and human rights. Shell will continue to engage on these important topics.

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Article
4 September 2012

[PDF] Kiobel and Corporate Social Responsibility: An Issues Brief

Author: Professor John Ruggie, Harvard Univ., former UN Special Representative on business & human rights

On October 1, 2012, the United States Supreme Court will rehear arguments in a landmark case...Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum...brought by Nigerian plaintiffs against Shell...alleging that the company aided and abetted the Nigerian military dictatorship in the 1990s in the commission of gross human rights violations, including torture, extra-judicial execution, and crimes against humanity... Should the corporate responsibility to respect human rights remain entirely divorced from litigation strategy and tactics, particularly where the company has choices about the grounds on which to defend itself? Should the litigation strategy aim to destroy an entire juridical edifice for redressing gross violations of human rights, particularly where other legal grounds exist to protect the company’s interests? ... I don’t know what the correct answers to these questions are… What I do know is that if, on top of the many other reputational and legal challenges it has faced over the years, Shell also ends up being held responsible for so radically constricting the ATS, its road back to the corporate social responsibility fold will be long and hard. [also refers to lawsuits against Unocal (now part of Chevron), Total, ExxonMobil, Talisman]

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