Just Security is pleased to announce the launch of an online symposium dedicated to the Jesner v. Arab Bank case before the US Supreme Court. The case, which will be argued October 11, presents an opportunity to resolve a longstanding question many find crucial to enforcing human rights in a globalized world: whether corporations are immune from suit under international law?
The Jordan-based bank was sued by several plaintiffs between 2004 and 2010 under the 18th Century law known as the Alien Torts Statute, arguing that the bank’s New York branch helped finance terrorist activities in the Middle East that had harmed the plaintiffs, who were not U.S. citizens. These earlier suits were thrown out by lower courts who cited a Second Circuit Court decision in a case known as Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum that determined corporations could not be held liable under the Alien Tort Statute. The Second Circuit now stands alone in holding to this conclusion. Doubts about the validity of that ruling have led the Supreme Court to hear Jesner v. Arab Bank on the question of whether the Bank can be sued under the 1789 law, potentially keeping the door open for similar lawsuits against corporations alleged to have played a role in human rights violations against victims outside of the United States.
Over course of the coming days and weeks, we will host a number of contributors addressing a range of perspectives on this question, including some issues that are not fully briefed by the parties. Our first post by Bill Dodge will go live tomorrow morning, outlining the key questions presented and issues at stake and mapping the various amicus briefs filed in the case.
Image: Jean Pierre/Wikimedia Commons