1st Edition

Corporate Human Rights Violations Global Prospects for Legal Action

By Stefanie Khoury, David Whyte Copyright 2017
    220 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    220 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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?


    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.