Doe v. Nestlé/Doe v. Cargill, 2020

CLAIHR and others file submissions to the US Supreme Court arguing that corporations can be subject to obligations under international law

CLAIHR was one of fifteen international human rights organizations that submitted an amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court in support of holding U.S. corporations liable in U.S. courts for complicity in human rights violations abroad.

The amicus brief was submitted in the in Doe et al. v. Nestlé USA, Inc. / Cargill Inc., cases, which were argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on December 1, 2020. The Plaintiffs seek to hold the companies liable for the alleged use of child slave labor. The plaintiffs allege that as children, they were trafficked from Mali to the Ivory Coast to work on cocoa farms where they were tortured, enslaved, and forced to work under gruesome conditions. 

The case was brought under the Alien Tort Statute, which is a statute that allows foreign nationals to file cases in U.S. federal courts alleging violations of international law. This statute has been used by many individuals and communities to bring lawsuits against corporations for their alleged role in human rights violations. However, the Nestlé/Cargill defendants argue that corporations cannot be held liable under international law. The amicus curiae brief submitted by CLAIHR and other organizations shows that international law recognizes that companies can and should be held accountable for human rights violations, and further that corporate liability and aiding and abetting liability are recognized general principles of law.

You can read the amicus curiae brief filed by CLAIHR and other organizations here.

Additionally, CLAIHR’s Tamara Morgenthau and James Yap authored a post as part of the Just Security symposium on the case, comparing it to the Nevsun case in Canada. You can read their analysis here.