Abstract and Keywords
The debate on how to rein in transnational corporate power has greatly intensified over the past decades. Following a series of scandals, conflicts, and crises, civil rights activists, lawyers, and heterodox economists have been promoting efforts to hold private business accountable for the social, economic, ecological, and political costs of its actions. National legal cultures, however, differ widely on that issue, in particular with an eye to corporate personhood and extraterritoriality. After centuries of not prosecuting corporations on grounds of their lack of mens rea, the pattern changed in the twentieth century as developments in different legal spheres intertwined. When competition law coalesced with tightened national corruption standards as well as the emergence of international war crimes prosecution, a path toward international corporate liability opened up. By now a patchwork set of approaches has emerged in which soft and hard law, statutory and treaty law, and national and international regulation converge on corporate liability.
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