Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Corporate crime and human rights

International law cannot be used to prosecute 
corporate criminals and other non-state actors

Pulling together some semi-related items. These are questions and some tentative opinions.

Question: Have the human rights of Toyota SUA victims been violated when the ETCS design is known to be unreasonably dangerous?

Answer: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 3.

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 8.
    • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law
  • ***************************************************
  • Speaking of "competent national tribunals" that are the bedrock of human rights protections in the USA, Jeff Quandt of the NHTSA ODI may have closed eight defect investigations of Toyota SUA, but he is relied on by the DOJ as a "neutral party" (ha! ha!), in other words, a kind of "competent national tribunal," in any dispute of facts between Toyota and vehicle owners. This reality relates specifically to Haggerty's letter and the dealer report to NHTSA that I posted a couple of days ago. 
  • So this means that if Haggerty and the dealer both tell NHTSA that neither the mat or pedal caused Haggerty's UA incident, but Quandt says it was a case of sticky pedal, then the DOJ will follow what Quandt says despite the detailed evidence to the contrary. Besides them telling NHTSA, this information got to Congress from both Haggerty and Toyota's own lawyer, and you know that lying to Congress is a crime, so it seems to me that a regular citizen like Haggerty and a regular lawyer like Ted Hester or someone like him would not brazenly lie about the facts to Congress. Would they. Well, Haggerty wouldn't. I am not sure about Hester. But in this case, Toyota's own lawyer admitted to Congressional investigators that sticky pedal cannot cause an incident like Haggerty's. So in the end, any reports and admissions like these, that are given to Congress, and documented, are also not a concern of NHTSA's. Huh.

  • Yesterday, my friendly Senate staffer (who is a lawyer) patiently explained the DOJ reliance on NHTSA to me. I could not believe my ears. It is hard to describe how I felt after hearing it. From where can I dredge up more tenacity to try to hold accountable these liars in the federal government of the United States of America?
Dr. Norman Bailey writes in Israel's business daily Globes
In the international relations of the twenty-first century, the increasing importance of non-state actors, including corporations, banks, NGOs, terrorist and separatist organizations and criminal gangs has been frequently noted.

A paper worth the read:
Non-state actors and human rights

Non-State Actors and Human Rights: Corporate Responsibility and the Attempts to Formalize the Role of Corporations as Participants in the International Legal System

Eric De Brabandere 

Leiden University - Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies

January 27, 2011



To date, multinational corporations have had no direct human rights obligations under international law. Nonetheless, international lawyers can no longer ignore the increasing role of non-state actors in international society. This chapter first explores the factual and normative dimensions of international corporation responsibility for human rights violations. It then analyzes existing mechanisms and new proposals for enhancing the accountability of transnational corporations, either through the use of ‘soft’ instruments, domestic jurisdictional mechanisms or through the extension of international individual criminal responsibility to corporations. This chapter will argue that to date no attempt to take on direct international corporate responsibility has led to the inclusion of corporations as formal participants in the international legal system.

Human Rights Obligations of Non-State Actors

Andrew Clapham


The threats to human rights posed by non-state actors are of increasing concern. Multinational corporations, armed oppositions groups, and the activities of international organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union are increasingly examined with recourse to a human rights lens. This book presents an approach to human rights that goes beyond the traditional focus on states and outlines the human rights obligations of non-state actors and addresses some of the ways in which they can be held legally accountable in various jurisdictions. The political debate concerning the appropriateness of expanding human rights scrutiny to non-state actors is discussed and dissected. For some extending human rights into these spheres trivializes them and allows abusive governments to distract us from ongoing violations. For others such an extension is essential if human rights are properly to address the current concerns of women and workers. The main focus of the book, however, is on the legal obligations of non-state actors. The book discusses how developments in the fields of international responsibility and international criminal law have implications for building a framework for the human rights obligations of non-state actors in international law. In turn these international developments have drawn on the changing ways in which human rights are implemented in national law. A selection of national jurisdictions, including the United States, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom is examined with regard to the application of human rights law to non-state actors.