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In an ever increasingly interconnected world, multinationals or transnational corporations (TNCs) through foreign direct investment have a large impact on the welfare, environment and human rights of people. This raises questions regarding the accountability and liability of corporations in the field of human rights. When the developing countries and emerging economies are unable or unwilling to hold corporations liable for severe human rights violations, corporations can be held liable before courts in the multinational’s home State – in which the parent company is incorporated or has its headquarters. As home States may be reluctant to enforce human rights against their own companies too, the approach opted for is based on civil action: private persons, groups of individuals or representative organizations initiate claims.
Inspired by the US Alien Tort Statute, this book contributes to answering the question if and how Dutch-related TNCs can be held civilly liable before Dutch civil courts for human rights abuses perpetrated in developing countries and emerging economies. The human rights violations include a wide range, e.g., forced and child labour, complicity in war crimes, or environmental damage. This book surveys ways to hold TNCs accountable and liable by linking public international law to national civil procedures and by bridging State and non-State law, such as human rights codes of conduct. In furthering a transnational human rights tort case before Dutch civil courts, the examination and the inclusion of different legal areas is necessary: human rights, private international law, contract law, tort law, company law, securities law, the Dutch (corporate) inquiry procedure and other disclosure mechanisms as a stepping stone for civil proceedings, and aggregate group actions in civil procedure so as to enable the effective remedy of human rights violations.
The author concludes that TNCs can indeed be held civilly liable, yet there are many challenges that have been identified and addressed. An overview of ways to hold TNCs accountable and civilly liable by identified stakeholders is provided. The final chapter provides further observations of new theoretical insights of multipolarity instead of the current predominately binary views both in public and private law that poorly reflect socio-economic realities in which human rights violations occur. The study is of interest to academics, human rights advocates and NGOs, politicians, as well as to the business community.