An Emerging Trend?: State Court International Human Rights Litigation

UC Irvine Law Review, 2012

17 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2012

See all articles by Austen Parrish

Austen Parrish

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: August 6, 2012


The brief symposium contribution explores human rights litigation in U.S. state courts under state law. Faced with higher hurdles to successfully asserting Alien Tort Statute claims in U.S. courts and reluctant to re-embrace more traditional international lawmaking, human rights advocates have begun to experiment with alternative strategies for redressing human rights violations. One strategy involves state court litigation. Some commentators believe that state courts may prove more amenable to enforcing and advancing human rights. This symposium contribution explores the parallels between the recent willingness to consider state court litigation to remedy human rights violations occurring abroad and other state court strategies, particularly those implicating environmental rights. After exploring the reasons behind the interest in state courts, the contribution explains why the move to state court litigation is unlikely to prove beneficial for the human rights movement. Over the long-term, relying on state courts will place human rights advocacy in a weaker position. State court litigation – similar to its federal analogue – is likely to prove a poor substitute for more traditional, multilateral, and collaborative international lawmaking.

Keywords: kiobel, alien tort statute, human rights litigation, human rights, transnational litigation, universal jurisdiction, extraterritoriality, transnational justice, multilateralism

JEL Classification: K19, K29, K33

Suggested Citation

Parrish, Austen L., An Emerging Trend?: State Court International Human Rights Litigation (August 6, 2012). UC Irvine Law Review, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Austen L. Parrish (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States


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