Are Corporations Responsible for Human Rights Violations Under International Law?

44 Pages Posted: 25 May 2021

Date Written: May 19, 2021


In the 1970s, high-powered multinational companies were regarded as agents of European colonial powers. This prompted a tidal wave of support, particularly from developing States for irresponsible corporate behavior. This LL.M. thesis posits that because States are failing to prosecute irresponsible corporate behavior and human rights abuses, international law provides a way to attribute liability to private corporations. It demonstrates the existence of numerous entities other than States and the United Nations in the international domain and dissects the oft-repeated objections by state-centric skeptics. This LL.M thesis scrutinizes international legal personality and reflects on the quasi-international legal personality of corporations. It chronicles the United Nations’ impact on transnational corporations and multinational companies compared to individuals under international law. Multiples sources of international law, utilizing transnational legal theory, are compiled to impute liability to private corporations. It then maps a meandering course from the Nuernberg Military Tribunals to the United Nations, then to the International Criminal Tribunals and corroborates its central thesis. What is more, it exposes the unwitting handiwork of intertwining sources of international law, whereby our conventional international legal order attributes liability to corporations. The denouement unveils an unforeseen source of international law that gives credence to the central thesis.

Keywords: Transnational Corporations, Non-State Actors, Corporate Liability, International Criminal Law, Quasi-International Legal Personality, and Subjects of International Law

Suggested Citation

Tador, Marvin, Are Corporations Responsible for Human Rights Violations Under International Law? (May 19, 2021). Charles University in Prague Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2021/II/1, Available at SSRN: or

Marvin Tador (Contact Author)

Anglo-American University ( email )

Letenská 5
11800 Praha 1
Prague 1, 11800
Czech Republic
+ 420 257 530 202 (Phone)

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