The Politics Behind Corporate Complicity Lawsuits

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Part of what is motivating the courts and prosecutors in rejecting these cases, I believe, is skepticism about activists using courts as means to promote political agendas and to counter foreign policy with which they do not agree. In many of these cases, particularly those involving the Arab-Israeli conflict, the NGOs bringing these lawsuits are opposed to governmental stances (of both their own countries and the target state), and are using corporations as a means to judicially impose their preferred policy. Due to sovereign immunity laws, it is often difficult, if not impossible, for activists to bring suit against a state directly, and corporations serve as a convenient substitute. Corporations are powerful actors, but they are also susceptible to public pressure. A main goal of these lawsuits, therefore, is to generate significant PR in order to influence public opinion. It is also hoped that by making the companies operate under the specter of legal liability, the corporations too will act as pressure agents on governments.

About the Author

Anne Herzberg

Anne Herzberg

Anne Herzberg is the Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia University Law School. Prior to joining NGO Monitor, she worked as an attorney in New York. Her areas of research include business and human rights, international human rights law, the laws of armed conflict, universal jurisdiction, international fact finding, NGOs, and the UN.