Monthly Archives: April 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Holds that the TVPA Does Not Apply to Organizations, but Corporate Officers Are Still Fair Game

Renewing speculation about the future of corporate liability for human rights abuses, last week the Supreme Court held unanimously in Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority that the Torture Victims Protection Act (“TVPA") cannot be used to sue organizations, and by extension, corporations. The Court, however, did not limit the type of individuals subject to suit under the Act, thus a corporation’s officers or employees may still find themselves open to suit under the TVPA.… More

Assessing Corporate Policies and Procedures to Protect Freedom of Expression and Privacy Rights

What policies, processes, and procedures do companies need to have in place in order to protect the fundamental human rights of freedom of expression and privacy?

This question was central to the first independent assessments of corporate implementation of the Global Network Initiative ("GNI") Principles, conducted this past year and announced on April 18 with the release of GNI’s second annual report. … More

United States Eases Sanctions on Financing for Development Organizations in Burma (Myanmar)

On April 17, the U.S. Treasury issued new General License No. 14-C, which relaxes sanctions on financial services with respect to certain humanitarian and not-for-profit activities in Burma.  

This License allows financial services to support a broader range of development projects than was previously permitted, and includes: (1) projects to meet basic human needs; (2) democracy building and good governance projects; (3) educational activities;… More

Floating the Kyat: A First Step in Fighting Corruption in Burma (Myanmar)

On April 2, one day after its Parliamentary by-elections, Burma (Myanmar) floated its currency, the kyat. This is an important first step in normalizing the country’s investment climate and curbing corruption. For years, the official kyat exchange rate has been more than 100 times lower than the black market rate, which has led to endless headaches for organizations operating in Burma, as well as for Burmese citizens.… More

Would the End of the Alien Tort Statute Mean an End to Corporate Liability for Human Rights Abuses?

If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down, or severely limits, the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”), what are the implications for plaintiffs and defendants in cases involving violations of international human rights law? The crystal balls were out in Washington recently as scholars and practitioners alike continued to speculate about the future of the ATS following the Supreme Court’s order to rehear arguments in Kiobel v.… More

Fools Rush In: Social and Environmental Due Diligence in Burma (Myanmar)

Following the success of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (“NLD”) party at the polls and today’s announcement that the United States will soon lift some of its sanctions against Burma, companies are closely scrutinizing the possibility of conducting business in the long-isolated country. 

Recent events should not, however, be considered a green light to conduct business in Burma for at least two reasons:  … More

Afghanistan’s Ban on Private Security Companies: What are the Risks for Private Investors?

The month of March marked a key deadline in the compulsory — but gradual — transition from the use of private to public security forces in Afghanistan.  This transition was initiated in August 2010 when President Hamid Karzai issued Presidential Decree 62 in response to a number of criticisms regarding the presence, role and activities of private security companies ("PSCs") in Afghanistan. With a few exceptions,… More