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Unocal lawsuit (re Myanmar)

Pipeline, By: SeanMack, Creative CommonsA group of Myanmar residents filed a lawsuit against Unocal in US federal court in 1996.  The plaintiffs alleged they had suffered human rights abuses such as forced labour, murder, rape and torture at the hands of the Myanmar military during construction of a gas pipeline, and that Unocal was complicit in these abuses.  Unocal and Myanmar’s military government were in a consortium for the pipeline’s construction.  The parties reached an out-of-court settlement in which Unocal agreed to compensate the plaintiffs and provide funds for programmes in Myanmar to improve living conditions and protect the rights of people from the pipeline region (the exact terms of the settlement are confidential).  This settlement was accepted by the court, and the case was closed on 13 April 2005.

Background materials
- “Tentative Settlement of ATCA Human Rights Suits Against Unocal”, Red Orbit, 24 Jul 2005
- “Tale of Rape and Murder on Burmese Pipeline Haunts US”, Andrew Gumbel, Independent [UK], 11 Dec 2003 [overview of case as of Dec 2003]
- Unocal: [PDF] “Background: The Yadana Pipeline and Activist Lawsuits”, 2 Dec 2003
- Unocal: “The story you haven’t heard about . . . The Yadana Project in Myanmar” [general information regarding Unocal’s activities in Burma]
- Center for Constitutional Rights (NGO representing plaintiffs): “Synopsis” [of Doe v. Unocal lawsuit]
- Earthrights International (NGO representing plaintiffs): “Doe v. Unocal” [background materials]

Settlement
- Analysis:  [PDF] "The Unocal Settlement: Implications for the Developing Law on Corporate Complicity in Human Rights Abuses", Rachel Chambers, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University [Australia], in Human Rights Brief, Washington College of Law, American University Fall 2005 
- Analysis: “Unocal Announces It will Settle a Human Rights Suit: What is the Real Story Behind Its Decision?”, Anthony J. Sebok, Brooklyn Law School, in FindLaw’s Writ, 10 Jan 2005 
- Unocal: “The story you haven’t heard about . . . The Activists’ Lawsuits”, 4 Apr 2005 
- Center for Constitutional Rights: “Historic Advance for Universal Human Rights: Unocal to Compensate Burmese Villagers
- Earthrights International: "Court Denies Unocal's Efforts to Shift Responsibility for Human Rights Abuses [in Burma] to its Insurers", Lillian Manzella, 14 Jun 2006
- Earthrights International: Common Questions and Answers, 2 Apr 2005


Certain legal briefs filed in this case [from website of attorneys for plaintiffs, Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris and Hoffman LLP]

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Article
31 May 2010

[PDF] Think globally, sue locally: Out-of-court tactics employed by plaintiffs, their lawyers, and their advocates in transnational tort cases

Author: Jonathan Drimmer, Steptoe & Johnson, released by U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform

Over the past 15 years, there has been a sharp rise in lawsuits brought against United States companies, as well as foreign companies with a substantial U.S. presence, that are premised on alleged personal or environmental injuries that occur overseas...With increasing frequency, plaintiffs, their attorneys, and their advocates are employing aggressive out-of court tactics that approach, straddle, and sometimes cross ethical lines in seeking to gain litigation advantages....The tactics...have clearly demonstrable patterns. Among them are: Aggressive media tactics...Community organizing tactics...Investment tactics...Political tactics...Fraudulent misconduct...[refers to AirScan, Archer Daniels Midland, Bridgestone, Bridgestone-Firestone (part of Bridgestone), Brylane (part of Pinault Printemps-Redoute), Cargill, Chevron, Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Del Monte Foods, Dole, Dow Chemical, Drummond, ExxonMobil, Gap, Gulf Oil, Levi Strauss, Mercedes-Benz (part of Daimler), Mobil Oil (part of ExxonMobil), Nestlé, Occidental Petroleum, Petroecuador, Pfizer, PPR (formerly Pinault-Printemps-Redoute), Rio Tinto, Shell, Target, Texaco (part of Chevron), Union Carbide (part of Dow), Unocal (part of Chevron), Wal-Mart, Yahoo!]

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Article
19 April 2010

ERI Submits Reports to the U.N. on U.S. Corporate Accountability and Human Rights Litigation

Author: EarthRights International

EarthRights International submitted two reports to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights today, in connection with the U.N. Human Rights Council’s periodic review of the human rights obligations of the United States. The first submission, a coalition report coauthored by ERI, the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Western Shoshone Defense Project, evaluates the United States’ performance on corporate accountability for activities abroad or affecting indigenous people’s rights, including the areas of protecting against human rights abuses by corporations and providing remedies for corporate abuses. The second report, submitted by ERI alone, focuses on the United States government’s approach in human rights litigation in U.S. courts.

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Article
19 April 2010

[PDF] Stakeholder Submission on United States Obligations to Respect, Protect and Remedy Human Rights in the Context of Business Activities

Author: Center for Constitutional Rights, EarthRights International, Western Shoshone Defense Project, ESCR-Net

This joint stakeholder submission analyzes the United States’ record in discharging its obligations to respect, protect and remedy in the context of human rights abuses involving business enterprises acting abroad and on or near indigenous lands in the United States.1 Businesses under U.S. domestic and extraterritorial jurisdiction…across the spectrum of industries have been implicated in, or found culpable for, inter alia, child labor, forced labor, extrajudicial killings and torture, abuses to the right to information, labor rights abuses, environmental abuses, gender discrimination, severe impacts to human health, and abuses to indigenous peoples’ rights…The State party is not doing enough to ensure that government agencies monitor and respect human rights in their dealings with private business projects. [refers to Blackwater (now Xe Services), Bridgestone, Caterpillar, Chiquita, KBR, Pfizer, Titan (now L-3 Titan, part of L-3 Communications), Unocal (part of Chevron)

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Article
19 April 2010

[PDF] Universal Periodic Review – United States of America Submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Author: EarthRights International

EarthRights International (ERI) makes this submission for the Universal Periodic Review of the United States of America, focusing on the United States’ participation in U.S. civil lawsuits raising international human rights claims over the past four years. Founded in 1995, ERI is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization dedicated to the protection of human rights and the environment...Our legal program focuses primarily on cases against corporations who are responsible for human rights abuses, frequently litigated in U.S. courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS)…ERI has served as counsel in five ATS lawsuits against multinational corporations, and has submitted amicus curiae briefs in at least a dozen similar cases.

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Article
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Author: Association Sherpa

Sommaire…La Responsabilité sociétale des Entreprises Transnationales…Les Entreprises Transnationales et leur Sphère d’Influence…La Déclaration Tripartite de l’OIT à l’Intention des entreprises multinationales…Les Principes Directeurs de L’OCDE à l’attention des entreprises multinationales…L’Autorégulation par les Codes de Conduite…L’Information Sociale et Environnementale des Entreprises Transnationales…L’Alien Tort Claim Act : un juge américain pour les victimes…La Responsabilité Juridique des Entreprises Transnationales. [fait référence à Chevron, Citigroup, Crédit Suisse, Coca-Cola, Del Monte, ExxonMobil, Ford, Nike,Price Waterhouse, Talisman Energy, Texaco (partie de Chevron), Total, Union Carbide (partie de Dow), Unocal (partie de Chevron)]

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Article
1 January 2010

[PDF] Human Rights Due Diligence: Is It Too Risky? [scroll to p. 6]

Author: John F. Sherman, III, Harvard Kennedy School; Amy K. Lehr, Foley Hoag law firm, in CSR Journal, ABA Section of Intl. Law (American Bar Assn.)

Due diligence can and should now be used to assess and reduce a business risk that was only explicitly recognized
as a risk quite recently--corporate involvement in human rights abuse... Under this framework [of UN Special Representative John Ruggie], the business responsibility to respect human rights requires companies to conduct human rights due diligence... Conducting due diligence provides corporate boards with strong protection against mismanagement claims by shareholders, usually in the form of derivative lawsuits. [article addresses concerns that due diligence might increase risks from Alien Tort Statute claims, negligence claims, misrepresentation claims, confidentiality obligations; argument that conducting due diligence should result in immunity. Refers to apartheid reparations lawsuits, Chevron lawsuit re Nigeria, Unocal lawsuit re Burma, ExxonMobil lawsuit re Aceh, Nike v Kasky, UK OECD Guidelines cases involving Afrimex, Vedanta]

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Author: Delphine Abadie - allAfrica.com

Cette analyse met en lumière un des obstacles actuels à la justice internationale… J'exposerai…une série d'obstacles considérables auxquels demeurent confrontées les victimes potentielles dans leur combat contre l'impunité des entreprises…Selon la sous-commission à la promotion et à la protection des droits humains (2005), les crimes corporatifs reposent le plus souvent sur un fait de complicité, de soutien, de partenariat, d'assistance directe ou indirecte à la violation des droits humains commise par un autre acteur, lequel se trouve souvent à être le gouvernement d'accueil. [fait référence à Barrick Gold, Banro, Chevron, Talisman, Total, Unocal]

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Article
1 December 2009

[audio] Globalising justice

Author: Damien Carrick, The Law Report

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster...How do we prevent and compensate for the harm that sometimes comes with globalisation...David Kinley[:] "[Bhopal] was a watershed for the notion that corporations can have responsibilities beyond simply their immediate commercial objectives...Union Carbide…tried to avoid responsibility...argu[ing] not to have the case held in American courts...[I]t is the gap between host states and home states that are so often the problem in trying to bring to account corporations...[I]f the home state ha[s] adequate safety and human rights standards, they need not…extend...beyond the jurisdictional boundaries of that country...[A] phrase that many corporations now coin which is 'beyond compliance'…they do seek to above and beyond what is required by law…because they see that as being a good corporate citizen...[W]e're now seeing the emergence of huge corporations based on the developing world...Some of those actually have interestingly, been leaders in corporate social responsibility." [refers to Shell, Union Carbide (part of Dow), Chevron, Unocal (part of Chevron), TATA group, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft]

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Article
1 December 2009

[PDF] Principles and Mechanisms to Hold Business Accountable for Human Rights Abuses: Potential Avenues to Challenge Corporate Involvement in Israel's Oppression of the Palestinian People

Author: Yasmine Gado, BADIL Resource Center

One of the most important legal challenges today is the battle to hold transnational corporations (TNCs) accountable for their involvement in human rights violations. Efforts are currently being made by a variety of actors in what is referred to as the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement…While the resources of these companies are vast and they are largely immune to democratic processes, gains are being made as corporate management responds to the cumulative impact of these efforts…This article summarizes the latest developments in each of these areas. The discussion on domestic law will cover U.S. law; however, several recent surveys compare the laws of different domestic legal systems in the area of corporate accountability for human rights violations. [refers to Ahava, Alstom, Caterpillar, Chevron, Connex (part of Veolia), Dexia, Drummond, Elbit Systems, Fidelty Investments, General Motors, Lev Leviev, Motorola, Shell, Talisman, Unocal (part of Chevron), Veolia, Yahoo!]

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Article
28 September 2009

[PDF] Special event: Martyn Day & Paul Hoffman speaking on “Human rights lawsuits against companies – our experiences with victims, their families and businesspeople” (London, 3 Dec 2009)

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is pleased to invite you to an event featuring leading human rights lawyers: Martyn Day (UK) & Paul Hoffman (US). Both have brought landmark lawsuits against companies. They will be speaking on the same stage for the first time, and fielding questions from the audience. Martyn and Paul will share: - highlights of past cases; - inside view of current cases; - comments on what more should be done to hold companies accountable under law; and - what they would say to companies wishing to avoid such lawsuits. [refers to lawsuits against Trafigura, Cape plc, Gencor, BP, Anglo American, Thor Chemicals, Gallaher, Imperial Tobacco, Shell, Unocal, Bridgestone-Firestone, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, Talisman, Wal-Mart]

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