Today, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the petitioners in Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC, which is scheduled to be heard at the United States Supreme Court in the fall. The case will determine whether the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) can provide an avenue to deliver justice to victims of corporate harms. The ATS permits non-Americans to sue for international human rights abuses.
In their joint brief, ICAR, ICCR, and SEIU argue that the increased role and power of corporations in modern society requires the establishment and enforcement of clear rules around their behavior, including their operations abroad. The brief further argues that when corporations have harmed the public, victims must have access to justice.
“Courts are increasingly providing corporations with rights to the detriment of the public interest. We must demand that they also have responsibilities.” said Amol Mehra, Executive Director of ICAR. “This case is about fairness and justice. Where corporations are involved in human rights abuses, they must be held accountable,” Mehra said.
Nicole Berner, SEIU General Counsel, highlighted the case’s importance to working people. “America's legal system must not favor corporations over working people, or allow them to evade their responsibilities. Working people need to know their rights will be protected around the world. Gutting this longstanding legal precedent would badly harm our ability to hold employers, and corporations more broadly, accountable.”
Not only is the ATS an important vehicle to deliver justice to victims, the brief outlines that accountability under the ATS is also vital to protecting investors from the legal, reputational, and operational risks stemming from corporate involvement in human rights violations. “Liability under the ATS is essential to ensuring that corporations are held accountable for human rights violations in their operations. Long-term, responsible investors want to see a level playing field where less scrupulous corporations are not incentivized to violate international law because they can escape liability,” said Josh Zinner, CEO of ICCR.
The brief can be accessed here.
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) is a 46-year-old coalition of over 300 institutional investors representing faith-based communities, socially responsible asset managers, labor unions, foundations, and other organizations that engage corporations on the environmental and social impacts of their operations. ICCR members collectively hold more than $200 billion in assets under management.
The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) harnesses the collective power of progressive organizations to push governments to create and enforce rules over corporations that promote human rights and reduce inequality. ICAR’s membership is composed of 40 human rights, environmental, labor, and development organizations.
Executive Director, ICAR
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is a labor union of more than two million men and women who work in healthcare, property service, and public service employment in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. SEIU members are united by their belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide, as well as their dedication to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.
Assistant Director of Communications, SEIU