THE ALIEN TORT CLAIMS ACT
— a purely American view
As any Oregonian will attest, American “manifest destiny” ultimately tri-
umphed over the established Law of Nations. Nevertheless, the role played
by the government-sponsored Hudson’s Bay Company — one of the first
corporations in history — is strong evidence of corporate accountability un-
der the Law of Nations long before the first ATCA case was ever brought in
a United States court.
VIII. What’s at stake: ATCA corporate liability will
lead to a reduction in human rights violations
If only for the purpose of providing foreign victims with an avenue of redress
that would otherwise be unavailable, the scope of ATCA defendants should
include corporations. However, this sentiment ignores the bigger picture —
that defenders of human rights aspire not just to mitigate present abuses
but to bring them to an end.
We do not argue that corporate ATCA liability is the only way — or even
the best way — to attack corporations for human rights violations. In theory,
the governments of third-world countries where human rights violations so
often occur have the authority to pass domestic laws cracking down on
36 “And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess
the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the
great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.”
, December 27, 1845, quoted by Trevor B. McCrisken,
68 (Vol. 2, 2002).