Authors: Sean E.D. Fairhurst, Zoë Thoms
The globalization of business affects the lives of citizens around the globe, both positively and negatively. With multinational corporations transcending national boundaries with their business operations comes the risk of adverse human rights impacts, particularly in regions of the world with high conflict, instability, and low governmental capacity. The risk of human rights violations has led to an increased emphasis on corporate social responsibility measures at industry, national, and international levels. One such protective measure includes statutory grants of jurisdiction to courts to adjudicate claims brought by foreign nationals alleging wrongdoings abroad in the defendant’s home jurisdiction. This measure allows foreign plaintiffs who have suffered abuse at the hands of a multinational corporation in their home jurisdiction to seek justice and compensation from that corporate defendant in the jurisdiction where the corporation’s assets are located and where the system of law is well-equipped to redress the violations. This article first explores the United States’ Alien Tort Statute and the seminal case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. to illustrate the potential scope of extraterritorial human rights litigation in America. Then the article canvasses recent human rights litigation brought by foreign nationals in Canada and concludes with the future of Canadian law in this area.