Human Rights Abuses as Tort Harms: Losses in Translation

60 Pages Posted: 5 May 2016 Last revised: 9 Nov 2017

See all articles by Nathan Miller

Nathan Miller

University of Iowa College of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2016


This Article examines the normative challenges posed by bringing international human rights claims in state courts under the common law of torts. It argues that the normative structure of the private law of torts cannot adequately address the very different concerns at stake when addressing public harms. Torts address issues that arise between two parties and those parties alone. But public law addresses harms done simultaneously to individuals and to the body politic. Redress for public harms should encompass both individual and systemic remedies, but tort law offers only the former. Instead of advancing tort claims, advocates should urge state courts to exercise their concurrent jurisdiction over the customary international legal norms incorporated into the federal common law to hear claims for violations of international human rights.

Keywords: Torts, Transnational, Human Rights, Alien Tort Statute, Kiobel, State Courts, Constitutional Torts, Public Torts

Suggested Citation

Miller, Nathan, Human Rights Abuses as Tort Harms: Losses in Translation (February 1, 2016). Seton Hall Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 2, 2016, U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-34, Available at SSRN:

Nathan Miller (Contact Author)

University of Iowa College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics