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Apartheid and the Alien Torts Act: Global Justice Meets Sovereign Equality

Osborne, Michael
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) In Max du Plessis and Stephen Pete, ed., Repairing the Past? International Perspectives on Reparations for Gross Human Rights Abuses. Oxford, UK: Intersentia. Pp. 231-293.

“This contribution, using the apartheid suit as an examplar, explores both the opportunities offered by and the limitations of the ATS. The first section reviews the history invoked by Plaintiffs in support of their charge that international corporations were complicit in the system of apartheid. In that context I consider the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the limitations and findings of which laid the foundations for the New York suit. The second section reviews ATS case law, as a means of understanding the scope and limits of the statue. Third, I explore the problems encountered in finding a forum for cases against transnational corporations, and the extent to which the ATS may serve as a surrogate in that regard. Next, is an examination of the judgement of the New York court, and criticism of that decision. And finally, I analyse the court’s treatment of the objections by the U.S. and the South African governments to the suits.” (abstract)


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