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Why do some countries retract extraterritorial jurisdiction over issues of human rights while others step forward?

6th February 2012

CGHR Research Group

Why do some countries retract extraterritorial jurisdiction over issues of human rights while others step forward?

Dr Jodie Kirshner (University Lecturer in Corporate Law and the Deputy Director of the Cambridge Centre for Corporate and Commercial Law)

The U.S. has policed the multinational human rights abuses of multinational corporations more aggressively than any other country, but recent decisions under the Alien Tort Statute indicate that it is now backtracking. Europe, paradoxically, is moving in the other direction. Why do some countries retract extraterritorial jurisdiction over issues of human rights while others step forward? The article traces the opposing trends through corporate human rights cases and suggests that the answer may lie in attitudes towards national sovereignty. The developments raise important questions regarding the position of the U.S. in a globalizing world and its role in upholding international norms.

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