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30 Apr 2018

Marisa McVey, Rights as Usual

A Long and Winding Road to Corporate Accountability: the Wider Ramifications of Jesner v Arab Bank

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...[T]here have been increasing calls for greater corporate accountability for human rights, yet binding accountability still seems to be a rarity.  Transnational tort litigation has been used to fill this void, but the recent US Supreme Court decision Jesner v Arab Bank more than complicates matters...[T]he judgement effectively applies a blanket ban on the ability to hold corporations accountable via foreign direct liability under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS)...It’s u nlikely that transnational tort cases for human rights will disappear...[T]here now exists a plethora of non-statutory corporate accountability mechanisms eager to come to the fore.  Some, like the Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety, are galvanised by (and specific to) a particular industry or human rights issue.  Others, like the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights aim to be preventative, encouraging human rights reporting practices to become central to providing corporate accountability.  The OECD Guidelines, with their National Contact Points and specific instance procedure, to an extent provide a stronger form of corporate accountability. However, interpretation of these Guidelines differs from country to country, leaving a highly fragmented body of cases...Jesner will provide an excellent incentive to ramp up the campaign for a binding international treaty on business and human rights...