The newly-established Ceartas – Irish Lawyers for Human Rights will launch their new blog in the coming days. Ceartas are a very welcome addition to civil society in Ireland, being a “non-profit organisation that seeks to promote the enforcement of human rights standards internationally through legal action”. They plan to use judicial and other mechanisms to promote accountability for human rights issues in Ireland, in particular to address Ireland’s connections with human rights violations occurring outside the territory of the state. Ceartas have identified business and human rights as one area of focus and it will be interesting to see how litigation and advocacy unfolds in this context.
The report of the Irish Centre for Human Rights on ‘Business and Human Rights in Ireland’, identified civil litigation as an avenue worth exploring and it is hoped that Ceartas will take up this task. The report concluded tentatively that:
…only those human rights violations which correspond to a constitutional right or an established tort can give rise to a cause of action in Ireland against a business entity. Acts of forced labour, torture, and violations of the right to life have been litigated as torts in both England and the United States, where companies have been alleged or found to be complicit in these acts, even where these took place outside of those jurisdictions.
The Alien Torts Claims Act, the statute which has proven to be a fertile ground for litigation against multinational corporations in the United States, is under threat from the Supreme Court which is currently considering the Kiobel case. The decision may have important ramifications for similar litigation in jurisdictions such as Ireland. A useful resource on civil claims is the recent report produced by the International Law Association on international civil litigation in the public interest.
I was pleased to write a post for the Ceartas blog, which is edited by Dr Michelle Farrell of the University of Liverpool (and formerly the Irish Centre for Human Rights).
Best of luck to Michelle and the Ceartas team!