Foreign Alternatives to the Alien Tort Claims Act: The Success (or Is It Failure?) of Bringing Civil Suits against Multinational Corporations That Commit Human Rights Violations

By Mostajelean, Bahareh | The George Washington International Law Review, March 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

Foreign Alternatives to the Alien Tort Claims Act: The Success (or Is It Failure?) of Bringing Civil Suits against Multinational Corporations That Commit Human Rights Violations


Mostajelean, Bahareh, The George Washington International Law Review


I. INTRODUCTION

Many independent nations, especially within the developed countries of the Western World, have complete, functioning domestic legal systems that are capable of handling both civil and criminal cases that arise within their boundaries.1 A variety of cultural, legal, and political barriers have prevented these nations, however, from developing a truly global system of justice to allow for civil suits that arise from injuries sustained outside of the territories of the individual countries.2 The rise of the multinational corporation (MNC) has made this gap in the justice system even more prevalent.3 Victims of actions by MNCs are often unable to seek redress for their injuries because of insufficient domestic legal systems in the country where the acts occurred and jurisdictional roadblocks within foreign legal systems.4 This problem is especially unfortunate when MNCs are guilty of human rights violations.5

The United States has attempted to overcome this barrier through its use of the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA).6 The ATCA allows aliens to bring tort claims for violations of international law or treaties of the United States in U.S. federal courts, regardless of where the tort occurred.7 By passing the ATCA as well as the Torture Victims Prevention Act (TVPA),8 which grants both aliens and U.S. citizens the right to sue for torture or extrajudicial executions, the United States developed one feasible avenue for bringing civil suits against MNCs that commit human rights violations. The ATCA is still bound by jurisdictional issues, however, and is not a global solution to the problem.9 Only a truly multinational agreement, such as a jurisdictional treaty, or the establishment of universal jurisdiction across nations can provide more thorough legal relief from these corporate human rights violations.10

This Note will look at several foreign alternatives to the ATCA,11 focusing on options that allow an injured party to bring a civil suit against an MNC that has committed human rights violations.12 The first section of this Note will offer a brief discussion of the obligations of MNCs in today's international community.13 The next section will discuss the development of the ATCA within the United States, with a focus on the modern ATCA's effectiveness and its limitations in civil suits against MNCs.14

This Note will then present the alternatives to the ATCA in two broad categories: 1 ) public international law alternatives that allow for private civil suits and 2) alternatives within the domestic legal systems of individual countries.15 The discussion of the first category will focus on a number of declarations and conventions that have opened the door toward developing human rights norms and permitting civil suits against human rights violators.16 The discussion of the second category will focus on the likelihood of ATCAtype litigation in a common-law legal system, the United Kingdom, and a civil law legal system, France.17 The discussion of the second category will also examine the possibility of restructuring these human rights violations as garden-variety torts, in order to create a cause of action under the civil codes of different nations.18

The last section of this Note will present an analysis of these different alternatives and will evaluate their likelihood of success through a comparison of the discussed alternatives.19 Of the current alternatives, redefining human rights violations as garden-variety torts will provide the greatest opportunity for successful civil suits.20 These current alternatives are not as effective as the ATCA, however, and a convention or treaty is necessary to establish either universal jurisdiction or, more plausibly, a firmly established right within each signatory country's legal system to bring civil suits of this nature.21

II. DISCUSSION

A. Multinational Corporations: Obligations and Liabilities

MNCs are prevalent in most aspects of today's society - from the clothes we wear to the goods we consume and the services we obtain. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Foreign Alternatives to the Alien Tort Claims Act: The Success (or Is It Failure?) of Bringing Civil Suits against Multinational Corporations That Commit Human Rights Violations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.