Emory International Law Review

Volume 31Issue 3

Restoring Liberalism to Transnational Corporate Accountability: From Universal Jurisdiction’s Ashes to an Afterlife of Multilateral Avenues

Steven S. Nam | 31 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 361 (2017)

Per the U.S. Supreme Court, foreign tortfeasors, including corporate human rights violators, may no longer be sued in U.S. courts by their foreign victims via the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) without a sufficient nexus to U.S. territory. This Article contends that pursuing transnational corporate accountability unilaterally through the U.S. judiciary is inconsistent with a core tenet of liberalism itself—a state and its constituents should not be subject to the external authority of other states. This Article engages in the recurrent debate over effective transnational corporate accountability, offering the first liberalist defense of universal jurisdiction’s marginalization in U.S. courts. This Article recommends further development of two alternative avenues that encourage multilateral cooperation on transnational corporate accountability: 1) inclusive public-private diplomacy convening all stakeholders, including non-state actors and 2) the widely welcomed U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and their use by corporate accountability NGOs, governments, and business enterprises.

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