Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum/Shell: Human Rights Law at the Crossroads


Add to My Calendar Thursday, September 27, 2012


Please join the Center for Constitutional Rights on the eve of the Supreme Court argument in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum/Shell for a panel discussion about the future of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), a vital tool for holding corporations, governments, and individuals accountable for international human rights violations. Please also tune into our live webstream from 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Co-sponsored by EarthRights International, the Center for Justice and Accountability, The Human Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, Human Rights First, and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, the panel will feature CCR Vice President Peter Weiss, CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy, plaintiffs in ATS cases and human rights attorneys who have used the statute to seek justice in U.S. courts on behalf of foreign victims of human rights abuses.

Over the past three decades U.S. human rights organizations have successfully expanded the application of the ATS and have won key battles for justice in cases involving murder, rape, forced labor and other crimes against humanity.

More than 30 years ago, CCR filed claims in Filártiga v. Peña-Irala against a Paraguayan police officer for the torture and death of Joelito Filártiga. When the victim’s family located the officer in the U.S., CCR brought suit under the ATS. The court ruled in favor of the family in an historic moment for human rights litigation that paved the way for the modern use of the ATS.

Recent court rulings have threatened to turn back this critical progress.  In September 2010, in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum/Shell, a case against Shell for human rights abuses in Nigeria, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided that corporations could not be sued under the ATS. This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court and argued last February. During the argument the Supreme Court justices questioned not just the application of the ATS to corporations but under what circumstances the ATS applies to any egregious human rights violation that takes place outside of the United States. A week later they ordered the case to be re-argued on this question. This re-argument is set for October 1, 2012.

For more information about the ATS, please click here.

Light refreshments at noon and panel discussion 12:30-2pm. Please see attached flyer for more information. Please note this event is free and open to the public.

Last modified 

September 24, 2012