Document Type

Working Paper

Repository Date



Alien Tort Claims Act, Liability, Jurisdiction, Sosa

Subject Categories

International Law | Jurisdiction | Law | Torts


The ATCA could be a powerful tool to promote corporate CSR, especially in developing countries where local legal restraints are weak. But despite the good normative reasons why the ATCA should be used in this way, serious obstacles remain. The Supreme Court's ahistorical and incoherent formulation of the "law of nations" fails to promote the development of the ATCA in ways that would cover even serious environmental harm. Also, the federal courts' confused jurisprudence concerning aiding and abetting and state action creates too many loopholes through which egregious corporate behavior may slip unpunished. In order to overcome these obstacles, we argue that the "law of nations" should not be read so restrictively, that a "purposive" aiding and abetting standard should be adopted, and that the requirement of state action be minimized or eliminated altogether. These steps would go a long way toward promoting the very CSR considerations that many corporations involved in ATCA litigation have already espoused.