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[PDF] The Alien Tort Claims Act and Trans-Boundary Corporate Environmental Abuse: A Case Study of the Gulf Oil Spill

Author: Haley St. Denis, Yale Journal of International Affairs , Published on: 31 August 2011

The Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) is a U.S. statute enabling aliens to sue in American civil courts for certain egregious human rights violations. It has come to be the tool wielded for most international human rights litigation against corporations. This article explores the potential ATCA liability resulting from corporate trans-boundary environmental abuse through consideration of BP and the 2010 Gulf oil spill. This hypothetical “case” demonstrates that though an ATCA claim against BP would likely fail based on the ultimate concentration of damage to U.S. territory, had the damage primarily hit foreign waters, shores and communities, the prospects of bringing an ATCA claim are real and present. Further, the symbolic repercussions of such a claim could develop both international law and industrial standards.

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Related companies: BP ExxonMobil Freeport-McMoRan Grupo México Halliburton Rio Tinto Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) Southern Copper (part of Grupo México) Transocean