All posts by drliste

The Politics of Space: Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

Read my contribution to the “Verfassungsblog

Law is a ‘politics of space.’ The last week’s Supreme Court decision in ‘Kiobel’ significantly cuts the possibilities to sue human rights violators before courts in the United States, particularly when the relevant conduct occurred on the territory of a foreign sovereign. The decision builds upon a highly territorialized notion of law and points to what may be called a ‘nationalization’ of international law—with repercussions for the transnational law of public and private global governance. In the Kiobel case transnational oil corporations (Royal Dutch Petroleum/Shell) were accused of having aided and abetted in massive violations of human rights in Nigeria, including extrajudicial killings, crimes against humanities, and torture. The lawsuit was relying on the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) — a Judiciary Act enacted by the First Congress of the United States in 1789 — which is granting ‘aliens’ access to courts in the US for bringing tort claims basing on international law. (…) [read more at Verfassungsblog]

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

On Wednesday, Apr 17, the US Supreme Court has issued its decision on Kiobel. This time, Shell will not be held responsible for violations of human rights in Nigeria. And: Transnational legal opportunities have been curtailed. Human rights advocates are disappointed. New ways will have to be found in order to sue private corporations for human rights violations–with and without relying on the Alien Tort Statute. At the same time, those speaking in the name of private business hail the perpetuation of nation-state jurisdictional boundaries. What a “politics of space”!

“There is a politics of space because space is political” (Henri Levebvre)

A nice collection of positions can be found at the Business & Human Rights website.