Buffalo Environmental Law Journal

First Page


Document Type



In Copyright


Developing nations often look to their bounty of natural resources or willing labor as a means of attracting international investors. While national and local governments frequently perceive the arrival of a multinational corporate presence as a boon to their economy, the potential for government instability ineffectiveness or corruption may facilitate environmentally exploitive corporate practices. Furthermore, residents of the subject nation may be left without proper legal recourse. Legislators have made various efforts in both the United States and abroad to propound Corporate Codes of Conduct to address such concerns, but despite laudable intentions, features of the increasingly global economy "accentuate the diffculties of relying upon law as an external constraint to correctly structure the corporate relationship." Furthermore, absent an international sovereign, national taxing authorities are often impotent to effectively tax corporations to raise money for social welfare or environmental protection efforts, and the law is often insufficient to provide redress once the damage is done.

Both American and alien litigants have sought to utilize the Alien Tort Statute ("ATS') (or Alien Tort Claims Act ("ATCA")) to address instances of corporate malfeasance, though the ATS has not yet proven an effective remedy capable ofsanctioning multinational corporations for their illegal or unethical behavior As voluntary codes of business ethics and United Nations guidelines have also proven ineffective, the United States must develop or support a legal regime capable of providing an effective civil or criminal remedy to the victims of illegal or unethical corporate activity.