Beyond Territoriality: The Case of Transnational Human Rights Litigation
Cases for civil damages that have been brought before Western courts by victims of torture and persecution against states officials or corporations, challenge the principles of state sovereignty and jurisdictional competence. While national courts can in cases of serious crimes hear cases that grow out of acts committed in another country, the same is not true for cases for civil compensation. A persisting and rising number of private law cases that attempts to empower disenfranchised victims of crime and abuse, points to the necessity of reconsidering the prevailing procedural and substantial obstacles that govern the so-far unsuccessful civil law suits. The law of transnational civil litigation [TCL] emerged with the US American decision in Filartiga in 1980 and perhaps culminated in the US Supreme Court’s Decision in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain in 2004. TCL has become a laboratory for our inquiry into the relationship between laws that were developed within and for the nation-state on the one hand and an increasingly globalized political and legal human rights discourse, on the other. As such, TCL is a case in point for the dramatically changing nature of norm-creation, law, and law enforcement in an era of globalization.