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Corporate civil liability for breaches of customary international law: Supreme Court of Canada opens door to common law claims in Nevsun v Araya

In a landmark judgment for transnational human rights litigation, the Supreme Court of Canada in Nevsun Resources Ltd v Araya, 2020 SCC 5 has opened the door for litigants seeking redress for human rights violations in Canadian courts. Significantly, the Supreme Court held that customary international law can give rise to a direct claim in Canada with respect to allegations of forced labour; slavery; cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment; and crimes against humanity. The Court also held that corporations may be liable for violations of customary international law. In this article, we examine the judgment in detail and consider the practical consequences for businesses. Procedural history The case was brought before the courts of British Columbia by three Eritrean workers against Nevsun, a BC-incorporated company. The plaintiffs alleged a number of human rights breaches in connection with the construction of the Bisha mine in Eritrea, which was owned and operated by the Bisha Mining Share Company, which itself was 40% owned by an Eritrean state entity and 60% owned by…

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Zooming Through the Bad Times

Zoom government? Zoom Security Council? Zoombombing and trolls? Here's some Ella Fitzgerald and the prescient Gershwins on zooming through the bad times, to help lighten your day:…

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COVID-19 as a Threat to International Peace and Security: What place for the UN Security Council?

  The rapid spread of COVID-19 and actions to contain the virus have understandably drawn parallels with previous outbreaks, in particular that of Ebola in West Africa in 2014 and of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 which also arose in China but affected Hong Kong more severely. While the SARS outbreak…

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Epidemic Sovereignty? Contesting investment treaty claims arising from coronavirus measures

  Though nothing can be immortall, which mortals make; yet, if men had the use of reason they pretend to, their Common-wealths might be secured, at least, from perishing by internall diseases. Hobbes, Leviathan (1651). My morning radio plays a hit parade of measures adopted by various States to combat the pandemic spread of…

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COVID-19 and EJIL

We are pulled in opposite directions in the face of a global upending of normal life. We find it attractive, even if hunkered down at home, as is our whole editorial team, in six different countries, to continue serenely our normal work in the face of a-normalcy. The life of the mind, the scholarly endeavor continues – even…

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New EJIL:Live Extra! Joseph Weiler and Doreen Lustig Discuss the Transition from Doctoral Student to Academic Lecturer

The EJIL: Live Extras series comprises short video conversations with leading international law scholars. In our latest EJIL: Live Extra! our Editor-in-Chief Professor Joseph Weiler discusses with Dr Doreen Lustig, recently appointed lecturer at Tel Aviv University, the joys and challenges involved in making the transition…

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Illegal But Legitimate?

I have always thought that proponents of humanitarian intervention simply cannot make a persuasive case that it is already an existing rule of international law (even if they can make a case that it should be a rule of international law). I have similarly always thought, on the…

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The Tories and the ECHR: Mere Incompetence or Deliberate Deception?

The Conservative Party in the UK has released a paper entitled ‘Protecting Human Rights in the UK – The Conservatives’ Proposals for Changing Britain’s Human Rights Laws’. This is in the aftermath of David Cameron’s pledge during the Conservative Party conference last week to scrap the…

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A “Compliance-Based” Approach to Autonomous Weapon Systems

A Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the topic of Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS) concluded its first meeting in Geneva on 17 November 2017. The meeting was held under the auspices of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and built upon on three informal…

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New EJIL:Live Extra! Joseph Weiler and Lorna McGregor Discuss the Adequacy of ADR to Deal with Human Rights Issues

The latest in our EJIL:Live! podcast series features an extended conversation between Professor Joseph Weiler, Editor-in-Chief of EJIL, and Professor Lorna McGregor of the University of Essex, whose ground-breaking article, “Alternative Dispute Resolution and Human Rights: Developing a Rights-Based Approach through the…

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Clarification and Conflation: Obligations Erga Omnes in the Chagos Opinion

The recent ICJ Advisory Opinion concerning the Chagos Islands has, understandably, received a great deal of attention. The controversies surrounding the more political elements of the decision have dominated headlines. However, in this blog post, we want to focus on one particular aspect of the Court’s decision.

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The Editors of EJIL:Talk! Are:

Dapo Akande

Marko Milanovic

Diane Desierto

Associate Editors:

Helen McDermott

Mary Guest

Gail Lythgoe

Contributing Editors:

Freya Baetens

Michael Fakhri

Douglas Guilfoyle

Monica Hakimi

Lorna McGregor

Anthea Roberts