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15 Apr 2020

Pushkar Anand, The Wire (India)

Commentary: Canadian Supreme Court's Nevsun ruling coincides with other intl. developments to address corporate legal accountability of multinationals for human rights abuses

"Canadian Companies Can Now Face Litigation for Human Rights Abuses Abroad", 10 April 2020

In the last week of February, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) handed down a landmark judgment in Nevsun Resources Ltd. v. Araya which opens a new chapter in the quest for holding transnational corporations (TNCs) responsible for the human rights abuses committed abroad. The SCC held that a civil action claiming damages for the breach of customary international law (CIL) obligations relating to human rights such as the prohibition against slavery, forced labour and torture by corporations can be brought before the domestic courts of Canada...

...However, in light of the Nevsun judgment, several issues such as how the trial should proceed, whether the facts alleged to justify the breaches of CIL norms, and if they do, what are remedies available etc. will have to be decided at the level of the trial court...

...the judgment in Nevsun certainly adds to the evolving state practice concerning the accountability of TNCs and business enterprises for human rights violations. The judgment also certainly will be a positive influence for the courts of other jurisdictions to enforce CIL norms directly into the domestic legal system for holding TNC accountable for their actions overseas.


Part of the following timelines

Canada: Supreme Court rules Canadian courts can hear case against Nevsun Resources for human rights abuses allegedly committed in Eritrea

Nevsun lawsuit (re Bisha mine, Eritrea)