Using domestic courts to hold corporations accountable for harm to the environment and human rights

Author: Lewis Gordon, Executive Director Environmental Defender Law Center, Published on: 30 June 2012

Natural resource development projects and other activities conducted by domestic and multinational corporations often cause grave harm to the environment and human rights of affected communities in developing countries...A key tool in preventing and remedying this problem is to pursue domestic legal claims against the corporation causing the harm, whether in the courts of the country where the harm occurs, or in the courts of the country where the parent company (if any) is domiciled. The relative scarcity of domestic law-based challenges to environmental and human rights harms caused by corporations - understandable as it may be - has nonetheless contributed to the legal culture of impunity for such harms...Legal actions threaten serious...consequences for the offending corporation...They also put the corporate community on notice of the risk of such harms occurring, and the potential for legal liability...[C]orporations realize that successful cases will lead to more cases being filed against them for similar harms...With each case filed, the law comes a step closer to universal recognition of a duty and a standard of care for corporations to both prevent and remedy these harms...[Refers to Chevron, Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin), Occidental Petroleum, Ramu Nickel]

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Related companies: Chevron Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin) Occidental Petroleum Zijin