Corporate Human Rights Violations : Global Prospects for Legal Action book cover
1st Edition

Corporate Human Rights Violations
Global Prospects for Legal Action

ISBN 9781138361348
Published August 14, 2018 by Routledge
220 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $56.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book develops an analysis of the historical, political and legal contexts behind current demands by NGOs and the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold corporations accountable for their human rights violations. Based on an analysis of the range of mechanisms of accountability that currently exist, it argues that that those demands are a response to the failure of neo-liberal policies that have dominated the practice of politics and law since the emergence of this debate in its current form in the 1970s.   

Offering a new approach to understanding how struggles for hegemony are refracted through a range of legal challenges to corporate human rights violations, the book offers a fresh perspective for understanding  how those struggles are played out in the global sphere.  In order to analyse the prospects for using human rights law to challenge the right of corporations to author human rights violations, the book explores the development of a range of political initiatives in the UN, the uses of tort law in domestic courts, and the uses of human rights law at the European Court of Human Rights and at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

This book will be essential reading for all those interested in how international institutions and NGOs are both shaping and being shaped by global struggles against corporate power.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Rarefied Politics of Global Legal Struggles

Introduction: Corporate Human Rights Violations

Human Rights and Corporate Accountability

A Mirror Image?

The Rarefied Politics of Global Consent

Global Social Ordering

Counter-hegemony and Resistance?

The Structure of the Book

Chapter One: From Economic Cannibalism to Corporate Human Rights LIabilities


Corporations, Human Rights and the UN

Corporations as Bearers of Rights

Corporations as Political Institutions

The Draft Norms

Lobbying the Norms

The NGO Lobby

Conclusion: Untangling the Roots of UN Policy

Chapter Two: Different Shades of Voluntarism


The Global Compact: ‘Support Group’ or ‘Good Old Boys Club’?

An American in the Court of King Kofi

The "Continuation of a Business-Friendly Agenda"?

The Guiding Principles

A Fake Consensus


Chapter Three: A Manufactured Consent


Evaluating the Role of the OECD Guidelines

Complaints Taken by NGOs

Mutual Agreement?

No Enforcement

Corporate Structural Advantage


Chapter Four: Tort Law and the Struggle Against Corporate Human Rights Violations


The Civil Justice System and Corporate Accountability

Alien Tort Claims Act 1789

The Business Lobby Celebrates

European Transnational Tort Cases

Transnational Jurisdiction and the Imperial Court

Transnational Struggle?

Conclusion: Nearly Absolute Non-Accountability

Chapter Five: Struggles for Corporate Accountability in the Human Rights Courts


Positive and Negative Obligations

Positive Obligations into the Private Sphere

The Horizontal Effect in the European System

The Horizontal Effect in the Inter-American System

NGOs and the Struggle for Recognition

Struggles for Collective Rights


Chapter Six: ‘Human’ Rights for Profit


The Corporate Victim

Corporate Rights in Europe

Corporate Rights at the Inter-American Court

Corporate Law Trumps Human Rights Law

Political Struggles for Corporate Rights

Conclusion: New Mechanisms of Accountability for Corporate Human Rights Violations?

Making Struggles Around Human Rights Visible

Moving Towards a Treaty?

A Peoples’ Tribunal?

View More



Stéfanie Khoury is Research Associate the University of Liverpool, UK. Her research focuses on the lack of accountability of state and corporate violations of human rights.

David Whyte is Professor in Socio-legal Studies at the University of Liverpool, UK, where he specialises in teaching and researching the relationship between corporate power and law.