Is ATCA dead? (Myanmar/Burma)

I have published a short review of John T. Dale’s Free Burma in the Journal of World-Systems Research. Dale’s book explores the implications of transnational human rights litigation, focusing on the case that Burmese rights groups filed against UNOCAL under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA).

One of my questions about the book is whether ATCA suits represent a viable tool for human rights advocates. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, probably not. In Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., the majority, led by Chief Justice Roberts, declared that there should be a “presumption against extraterritoriality” in the application of the law. While this doesn’t bar future ATCA suits – and EarthRights notes the decision does not bar all ATCA suits against corporations – it certainly will discourage lower court judges from admitting them.

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