Corporate Accountability Lab



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Transnational corporations often do business in ways that destroy environments, harm communities, and exploit workers. For twenty years, a once forgotten statute from 1789 provided a way to sue corporations for those actions.
But in 2013, the US Supreme Court decided Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, which limited the ability of U.S. courts to hear these claims for human rights abuses committed overseas, effectively robbing victims of corporate abuse of one of the few tools at their disposal. This came a year after the Supreme Court eliminated corporate liability under a different statute that had previously made it possible to bring claims in U.S. courts against companies for torture and killings that occurred overseas. 
This trend in the courts sends a dangerous signal. When companies know they can violate rights without consequences, they are more likely to engage in behavior that puts their workers, local communities, and the environment at risk. This behavior can come in the form of negligent selection of suppliers, lack of due diligence, hiring of corrupt militaries and illegal armed groups for security, violent land grabs, and even direct and knowing participation in human rights and environmental violations.
That’s where CAL comes in. We are a team with diverse experiences in labor rights, human rights, and environmental rights, working towards a shared goal of making companies legally accountable when they harm people and the environment.
CAL was founded in response to the crisis of widespread corporate abuse of human rights and the environment and disappearing legal tools to hold corporations accountable. In the midst of this ongoing crisis, public interest lawyers and the broader social justice community are too often overburdened with work using existing tools and lack the time, resources, and space to come up with creative strategies for broad impact. CAL aims to change that.
We research and map human rights violations and the many actors involved. To develop ideas that work, CAL focuses on truly understanding the many facets of a problem involving corporate abuse of rights. 
We use our unique human-centered design to innovate and develop new legal strategies. This process allows us and our partners to come to the table with a problem or question--be it working with a community that has tried legal options that are not working, or figuring out how a particular statute might work for people rather than corporations -- and gives us a process by which we can dig in and get creative, coming out on the other side with new solutions. 
CAL does this work in collaboration with partners and allies across the globe. From our legal interns to our Brain Trust, and from local activists to advisors, and to supporters like you, it takes all of us to protect people and the planet from corporate abuse.
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