Transnational Corporations on Trial

ECCHR-STUDY, April 2008

By Wolfgang Kaleck and Miriam Saage-Maaß

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Human rights abuses are not only committed by public institutions, but also by Transnational Corporations. The entrepreneurial activities of these corporations risk the abuse of human rights and environmental damage. The threat that corporations pose to human rights is not sufficiently taken into account by national and international legal systems. A study authored by the ECCHR called "Transnational Corporations On Trial,“ describes international standards which obligate Corporations to act in compliance with Human Rights, Labor and Environmental Laws outlines the prospect of sanctions. It is evident that legal processes on a national level are capable of enforcing the rights of certain people despite the many practical barriers of implimentation.

The study also illustrates the responsibility of countries to sanction and prevent Human Rights abuses committed by private parties. The four cases presented deal with actual conflicts in which European corporations are on trial for abuses in Latin American countries. Wolfgang Kaleck and Miriam Saage-Maaß have analysed the juristic procedures used in proceedings against corporations on trial for substandard labor conditions, suspected environmental pollution or assault by private plant security officers.

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