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1 Apr 2013

Lauren Carasik, Western New England University School of Law in Al Jazeera

Kiobel case: Corporate accountability for human rights abuses

The United States Supreme Court is poised to issue a ruling in the case of Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum. The stakes are enormous - the case will determine whether victims of human rights abuses on foreign soil, who often lack any other viable legal remedy, can bring suit against corporations in US courts…The Kiobel case is the first time the issue of corporate liability under the [Alien Tort Statute (ATS)] has reached the Supreme Court…Kiobel plaintiffs argued that the violations they suffered are universally recognised and condemned harms under customary international law...Shell argued that "the law of nations" does not recognise corporate liability for human rights abuses and that the ATS does not apply extraterritorially…The Supreme Court's decision in the Kiobel case should advance global justice by categorically rejecting impunity for human rights abuses in which transnational corporations are complicit.