Jonathan Herman

Launch of the Access to Judicial Remedy Project

Jonathan Herman

The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, European Coalition for Corporate Justice, and the Corporate Responsibility Coalition are proud to announce the launch of the Access to Judicial Remedy Project.

As corporations have gained increasing power and rights in the global marketplace, they have also been immunized from responsibilities and accountability. Nowhere is this more damaging than in the judicial system where threats to mechanisms that afford legal remedy to victims of corporate related human rights abuses have increased alarmingly.

Regressive developments in the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union countries will make it even more difficult for some of the most vulnerable populations in the world to access justice. In countries where courts are corrupt, biased, other significant barriers to justice exist, or where corporations are heavily aligned with governments, the best and often only available option for attaining remedy is for victims of corporate related human rights to seek redress in corporations’ home states.This project seeks to build on existing work that exposes common barriers to judicial remedy in home states of corporations for victims of human rights abuses. The project will then identify the most feasible solutions and recommendations to improve access to judicial remedy in the United States, United Kingdom, and certain European countries.

It will affirm that, as part of the State duty to protect human rights, States must ensure that victims have access to judicial remedy in their jurisdictions. The report will further identify feasible opportunities to ensure that such remedy is accessible in the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union.

We are especially proud to introduce our expert project team:

Professor Gwynne Skinner, U.S. Expert, directs the International Human Rights Clinic at Willamette University. Professor Skinner has several years’ experience litigating human rights cases under the Alien Tort Statute. She and the Clinic recently filed the cases Hamad v. Gates, et al, and Ameur v. Gates, et al, which allege violations of international law on behalf of two former Guantanamo Bay detainees.  She was also counsel in the case of Corrie et al v. Caterpillar, an ATS case regarding corporate liability for violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Her scholarly research primarily focuses on issues related to human rights litigation in U.S. courts and the role of customary international law in domestic courts.

Professor Olivier De Schutter, EU Expert, has been the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food since May 2008. He teaches at the Catholic University of Louvain and at the College of Europe (Natolin). Between 2002 and 2006, he chaired the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights, a high-level group of experts, which advised the European Union institutions on fundamental rights issues. From 2004 -2008, he was the General Secretary of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) on the issue of globalization and human rights. Prof. De Schutter’s most recent book is International Human Rights Law (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010).

Professor Robert McCorquodale, U.K. Expert, is the Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London.  He is also Professor of International Human Rights and former Head of the School of Law at the University of Nottingham. Professor McCorquodale’s research and teaching interests are in the areas of public international law and human rights law. He was published widely on these areas and has provided advice to governments, corporations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and peoples concerning international law and human rights issues, including advising on the drafting of new constitutions and conducting human rights training courses.

Andie Lambe, Civil Society Representative, was the founding Director of Reprieve, which provides legal representation to impoverished individuals facing the Death Penalty.  She is the former Director of the Ending Impunity program at Global Witness, where she worked to break the link between natural resources, corruption, and conflict. Andie’s focus in the Access to Judicial Remedy Project will be to bring context to the recommendations by showing the perspective of individuals who have faced or overcome barriers to judicial remedy for corporate related human rights abuses.

Our project objectives are to:

  1. Identify achievable and effective solutions and recommendations of how to improve access to judicial remedy in corporate home states.
  2. Develop a report that includes analysis and legal argumentation to back such recommendations.
  3. Consider options that could inform long term NGO strategy.
  4. Facilitate the NGO strategy process.

For more information, please see the attached document.