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Speaker: Dr Nara Ghazaryan, UNCLC Research Fellow, Assistant Professor in International and European Law, Radboud University
Chair: Professor Irit Mevorach
In a globalised world, multinational corporations have spread their activities across many countries in search of resources and profit. Far too often, this comes at the expense of the rights of the indigenous population and the environment, leading to the displacement of the population, pollution of the nature, serious illness and loss of income to name a few. Given the lack of chrystallised legal obligations for corporations in international law, victims of environmental rights violations often turn to national law. Private law, particularly national tort law can provide a workable avenue for the victims to seek redress for the harm caused to their health, their surrounding environment and economic livelihood. While bringing tortious claims in the country where the damage has occurred can be often marred by difficulties, the victims of human rights abuses might seek accountability elsewhere – the legal system of the country where the parent company is based.
Within this context, the talk will present a comparative analysis of two recent prominent judgements from different jurisdictions, home to many multinational corporations. The 2019 Vedanta judgement from the UK Supreme Court and the 2021 Shell Nigeria decided by the Dutch Court of Appeal reveal a certain encouraging trend towards the issue of duty of care of the multinational corporations as far as environmental damage caused by their subsidiaries is concerned. At the same time, these cases reveal the pitfalls of seeking redress through tort law, including protracted litigation on jurisdiction, as well as the judicial restraint in factoring the international human rights framework into the private obligations of corporations.
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