Editor's note: Sara Martinetto is an intern at T.M.C. Asser Institute. She has recently completed her LLM in Public International Law at the University of Amsterdam. She holds interests in Migration Law, Criminal Law, Human Rights and European Law, with a special focus on their transnational dimension.
On 29th June 2017, four Nigerian widows launched a civil case against Royal Dutch Shell (RDS), Shell Petroleum N.V., the Shell Transport and Trading Company, and its subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) in the Netherlands. Esther Kiobel, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo and Charity Levula are still seeking redress for the killing of their husbands in 1995 in Nigeria. They claim the defendants are accomplices in the execution of their husbands by the Abasha regime. Allegedly, the companies had provided material support, which then led to the arrest and death of the activists.
In the light of this lawsuit, it is interesting to retrace the so-called ‘Ogoni Nine’ legal saga. The case saw the interplay between multiple jurisdictions and actors, and its analysis is useful to point out some of the main legal issues encountered on the path to hold corporations accountable for human rights abuses. More...
Editor's note: Sara Martinetto is an intern at T.M.C. Asser Institute.
She has recently completed her LLM in Public International Law at the University of
Amsterdam. She holds interests in Migration Law, Criminal Law, Human Rights and
European Law, with a special focus on their transnational dimension.
Since the adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of Resolution 26/9 in
2014, an Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group (WG) is working on a
binding Treaty capable of holding transnational corporations accountable for
human rights abuses. Elaborating on the proposal presented by Ecuador and South
Africa, the WG has been holding periodical sessions. In much
trepidation for what is supposed to be the start of substantive negotiations –
scheduled for October 23-27, 2017 – it is worth summarising and highlighting
the struggles this new instrument is likely to encounter, and investigating whether
(and how) such an agreement could foster transnational corporations’ (TNCs)
human rights compliance. More...
The six months between 2012 and 2013 represented a turning point for the
garment industry. On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building collapse in
Bangladesh killed more than 1100 workers. Just a year before, more than 350
garment workers died in two factory fires in Pakistan and Bangladesh. These
three tragedies, among the deadliest industrial disasters in recent times,
generated a previously unseen level of outrage to which followed a considerable
mobilisation by civil society, business communities, States, and international
organisations. Apart from the horror stemming from the loss of lives, mostly of
young women, the three catastrophes were particularly shocking for Western
audiences as they exposed our ignorance and even complicity. It turned out that
we - the consumers – turn a blind eye to the working conditions, including
health and safety, of garment workers. Thereafter, it was impossible to ignore that
well-known brands we regularly purchase were connected to these production
sites, which were regular suppliers of many European and American clothing
The negative impact on human rights of what we wear is not always well-known
to the consumer. Our clothing consumption has increased over five times since
the Nineties. At the same time, the business model of certain fashion brands is too often dependent on widespread human
rights and labour rights violations to be profitable, cheap, and fast. The 2013
tragedy of Rana Plaza, where more than 1100 garment workers died, gives us just
a small hint of the true costs of our clothes and footwear. Efforts by
governments to tame the negative effects of transnational supply chains have
proven difficult due to the extreme delocalisation of production, and the difficulty to even be aware of
a company’s last tier of
suppliers in certain developing countries. More...
Doing Business has been a (if
not the) core concern for the post-WWII world order, leading up to contemporary
economic globalisation and the ‘free’ movement of
goods, capital and ideas across the globe. With our research project, and the
launch of this companion blog, we aim to shift the focus towards Doing Business
Right. Thanks to the financial crisis
in 2008, there is growing awareness of the fact that Doing Business can lead to extremely adverse social and economic
consequences. The trust in Doing Business
as a cure-all to modernize, democratize, or civilize the world is fading. Moreover,
the damaging externalities prompted by the operation of transnational economic
activity are more and more visible. It has become harder, nowadays, to ignore
the environmental and social consequences triggered elsewhere by our
consumption patterns or by our reliance on certain energy industries. What does
Doing Business Right mean? How does
the law respond to the urge to do business right? What are the legal mechanisms
used, or that could be used, to ensure that business is done in the right way? Can
transnational business activity even be subjected to law in a globalized world?
This blog will offer an academic platform for scholars and practitioners
interested in these questions. With your help we aim to
investigate the multiple legal and regulatory constructs affecting transnational
business conduct - ranging from public international law to internal corporate
practices. We will do so by hosting in-depth case studies, but also more
theoretical takes on the normative underpinnings of the idea of Doing Business Right. We aim to be inclusive in
methodological terms, and believe that private and public, as well as national
and international, legal (and...) scholars should come together to tackle a genuinely
transnational phenomenon. Future posts will cover issues as diverse as
national, EU, international, transnational regulations - including self-regulation,
voluntary codes, and market-based regulatory instruments - applying to transnational business conduct.
Case law from the CJEU, international tribunals (ICJ, arbitral tribunals) and
national courts, as well as decisions from international organisations,
national agencies (such as competition authorities) will be recurring objects
of discussion and analysis. Yet, our perspective is not solely focused on the (traditional)
law: management practices of companies and their effects will also be
This blog is thought as an open discursive
space to engage and debate with a wide variety of actors and perspectives. We
hope to get the attention of those who care about Doing Business Right, and to provide useful
intellectual and legal weapons for their endeavours.
Antoine Duval is a Senior researcher at the Asser Institute since 2014. He holds a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence in which he scrutinized the interaction between EU law and the transnational private regulation of world sport, the lex sportiva. His research is mainly focused on transnational legal theory, international arbitration, and private regulation.
Enrico Partiti is researcher at the Asser Institute since 2017. He holds a PhD from the University of Amsterdam on private standards for sustainability. His research interest lies at the intersection of EU and international economic law on the one hand, and private regulation for sustainability on the other. He studies the interactions and reciprocal influence between transnational public and private norms, and how they determine and impact on social and environmental sustainability in global value chains.