[Event] Transnational civil litigation and corporate liability: Mexico v Smith & Wesson

02 May 2022
  • Starts at: 16:00h
  • Fee: Free
  • Venue: Online
  • Organiser: T.M.C. Asser Instituut
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Strategic civil litigation is being increasingly employed to protect public interests in the context of trans-border problems. The civil complaint brought by Mexico against Smith & Wesson and other gun manufacturers in the District Court of Massachusetts presents a distinct model within this broader trend for two main reasons: the appearance of Mexico in its sovereign capacity and the tort-based formulation of its claims, which eschews international human rights law. This event will therefore address the potential implications of this case within transnational corporate liability for gun control and other areas. Topics discussed will include issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and applicable law related to Mexico’s seisin of the U.S. court system, as well as derivative modes of corporate liability such as complicity. Additionally, speakers will broach the extraterritorial obligations of companies in respect to damage involving their products occurring across borders, including obligations arising out of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and the law relating to the arms trade.

About Mexico v Smith & Wesson
On 4 August 2021, Mexico sued six U.S. gun manufacturers, one foreign manufacturer, and a Boston-area wholesaler in Massachusetts. The case involves a number of transnational legal issues, including extraterritoriality, and highlights the growing relevance of transnational litigation in the field of corporate accountability. Mexico claims damages in the form of healthcare, security, and other costs, in addition to economic loss arising from the companies’ negligent failure “to exercise reasonable care” in manufacturing, marketing, and selling their guns in ways that reduce the likeliness of their being trafficked into and causing harm in Mexico. It is estimated that more than half a million guns flow from the United States into Mexico each year. Given the challenges associated with converting international human rights law and legal principles into causes of action, Mexico’s use of private transnational litigation offers one alternative model. This case is being closely watched, both for the implications for Mexico’s policy efforts to reduce gun violence within its territory and for its place in the broader trend of seeking to hold arms corporations accountable for the transboundary effects of their products.



  • H.E. José Antonio Zabalgoitia, Ambassador of Mexico to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


  • Dr. León Castellanos-Jankiewicz, Researcher in International Law, Asser Institute for International and European Law.
  • Prof. Dr. Thilo Marauhn, Professor of International Arms Control Law, University of Amsterdam Law School and Asser Institute for International and European Law.

Opening presentation 

  • Mr. Alejandro Celorio Alcántara, MA, LLM, Principal Legal Advisor to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


  • Prof. Carlos M. Vázquez, Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Law, Georgetown University and Co-Director, Center for Transnational Legal Studies, London.
  • Prof. Leila Nadya Sadat, James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law, Washington University St Louis.
  • Dr. Christian Schliemann, Senior Legal Advisor, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Berlin.
  • Dr. Dalia Palombo, Assistant Professor of Human Rights Law, Department of Public Law and Governance, Tilburg Law School.

Panel moderator

  • Dr. Marina Aksenova, Assistant Professor of Comparative and International Criminal Law, IE University Law School, Madrid.


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