Legal Avenues for Holding Multinational Corporations Liable for Environmental Damages in a Globalized World

Daniel Iglesias Márquez


In an increasingly globalized world, multinational corporations (MNCs) have expanded not only numerically but also financially. Through foreign direct investment (FDI), they relocate their activities worldwide and thus operate in a wide variety of countries, particularly in those that have the most advantageous conditions, such as lower costs (wages and social security) and laxer labor and environmental standards. Accordingly, MNCs can be directly or indirectly (through their business partners) associated with negative impacts on the environment, e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, the production of toxic and hazardous substances and waste, the over-exploitation of natural resources, water pollution, etc. The negative impacts of MNCs on the environment have drawn a great deal of international attention because of increasing instances of massive environmental damage resulting from their operations, particularly in developing countries. The aim of this paper is to analyze the international and national legal avenues for holding MNCs liable for environmental damage in a globalized world. The guiding question is whether these existing legal avenues are able to influence the environmental performance of MNCs and whether they can be effective in providing redress to the victims of damage caused by companies.


Globalization – Environment – Multinational corporations – Liability

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