The Yale Law Journal

Human Rights Law


Living with History: Will the Alien Tort Statute Become a Badge of Shame or Badge of Honor?

Tyler R. Giannini

This Essay considers the 2021 Supreme Court ruling in Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe to interrogate the importance of U.S. nationality in future Alien Tort Statute jurisdictional analysis, offering that the Supreme Court can still bring ATS jurisprudence back in line with history on the question of U.S.-ac…


Seeking Justice: The State of Transnational Corporate Accountability

Charity Ryerson, Dean Pinkert & Avery Kelly

As communities harmed by multinational companies traverse the globe in search of remedy, they face diverse legal systems that are historically ill-equipped to meet their needs. This Essay explores the current legal context for such efforts in Global North jurisdictions and suggests some new and unde…


Utilizing Foreign Legal Assistance Actions to Promote Corporate Accountability for Human-Rights Abuses

Maryum Jordan

This Essay discusses some of the challenges that may arise during transnational human-rights litigation against multinational corporations in U.S. courts. To complement these efforts, the author suggests utilizing the foreign legal assistance statute to strengthen human-rights cases promoting corpor…


The Multiple Selves of Economic Self-Determination

Odette Lienau

This Essay contends that dyadic understandings of economic self-determination, formed in light of earlier anticolonial struggles, are no longer sufficient. It argues instead for a plural and flexible conception, centered on a broader vision of the economic “self,” that more accurately reflects sourc…


The Tragedy and Promise of Self-Determination

Brian Slattery

The principle of self-determination, like Janus, has two faces: negative and positive. Often understood as enabling the fracture of states into national components, the principle is better seen as facilitating the creation of multinational frameworks that foster toleration and human rights. 


Climate Change and Challenges to Self- Determination: Case Studies from French Polynesia and the Republic of Kiribati

Tekau Frere, Clement Yow Mulalap & Tearinaki Tanielu

This Essay examines effects of climate change and related phenomena on self-determination through two case studies. The case of French Polynesia highlights effects on people’s right to freely dispose of their natural resources. The case of the Republic of Kiribati demonstrates how a defeatist narrat…


Monuments to the Confederacy and the Right to Destroy in Cultural-Property Law

E. Perot Bissell V

The recent protests over Confederate memorials illustrate a gap in cultural-property law. Because cultural-property law presses inexorably toward preservation, it has no framework for addressing when a nation might be justified in destroying its own cultural property. This Note provides a framework …


When Stopping the Smuggler Means Repelling the Refugee: International Human Rights Law and the European Union's Operation To Combat Smuggling in Libya’s Territorial Sea

Paul Strauch

Over the past three years, the number of human tragedies on the Mediterranean Sea has reached an unprecedented level.1 The now-iconic image of a German rescue worker cradling a drowned migrant baby in his arms in the sea between Libya and Italy remains a disturbing reminder of the…


Open Source Evidence on Trial

Keith Hiatt

Introduction Investigating war crimes is a messy business. It is difficult and dangerous. International criminal tribunals charge powerful individuals, including heads of state and leaders of armed forces, whose personal resources may well exceed the annual operating budget of the invest…


Science and Harm in Human Rights Cases: Preventing the Revictimization of Families of the Disappeared

Eden Medina & Ilan Sandberg Wiener

Introduction International human rights law and the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights obligate states to investigate cases of forced disappearance (also called enforced disappearance) until the victim has been found and identified.1 However, neither specifies th…


Prison Law Writing Contest Results

Elizabeth A. Reid, Ernie Drain & Aaron Lowers

122 Yale L.J. 2082 (2013).


Antislavery Courts and the Dawn of International Human Rights Law

Jenny S. Martinez

117 Yale L.J. 550 (2008).

Between 1817 and 1871, bilateral treaties between Britain and several other countries (eventually including the United States) led to the establishment of international courts for the suppression of the slave trade. Though all but forgotten today, these antislavery courts …


The Guantanamo Three-Step

Joseph Blocher



A Radical Rejection of Universal Jurisdiction

Lama Abu-Odeh

I want to look at the universal jurisdiction principle of Noah Feldman’s proposed minimum legal cosmopolitanism from the following hypothetical perspective. Suppose I were a voting member of an international organization considering whether to recognize this principle as binding international law…


The Dangers and Demands of Cosmopolitan Law

Jessica Stern

In a recent essay in this Journal, Noah Feldman describes his conception of a “cosmopolitan law” and offers several theories of how such law could be applied. These theories explain when a liberal state may—and should—apply its law to the acts of foreigners in foreign lands. In this Response…


The Quest for a Higher Law

Mark Weston Janis

Noah Feldman’s “cosmopolitan law” is, I think, a revised version of what has been sometimes called the law of nations, international law, and transnational law. Each, as originated, was a quest for a higher law that would interpret, supplement, and sometimes limit the law and power of states. …


Noticing Genocide

Brittan Heller

On June 16, 2006, the Appeals Chamber for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (“ICTR”) took judicial notice of the Rwandan genocide as a “fact of common knowledge” in Prosecutor v. Karemera. Though this unprecedented move originated from good intentions, it will prove to be a harm…


Law's Migration: American Exceptionalism, Silent Dialogues, and Federalism's Multiple Ports of Entry

Judith Resnik

115 Yale L.J. 1564 (2006)

Legal theorists are engaged in understanding the legitimacy of techniques by which principles of rights-holding travel across borders. Sovereigntists in the United States object to that migration. The history of both protest about and the incorporation of "foreign" law provi…


The Court of Vice Admiralty at Sierra Leone and the Abolition of the West African Slave Trade

Tara Helfman

115 Yale L.J. 1122 (2006)

Drawing on archival sources, this Note explores an early experiment in humanitarian intervention undertaken by the Court of Vice Admiralty at Sierra Leone through the suppression of the West African slave trade during the early decades of the nineteenth century. Part I discu…


The Responsibility To Protect: The U.N. World Summit and the Question of Unilateralism

Alicia L. Bannon

115 Yale L.J. 1157 (2006)

More than a decade after the world did nothing to halt genocide in Rwanda, and in the shadow of ongoing atrocities in Darfur, Sudan, the international community recently made a new commitment to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes agai…


Punishing Masculinity in Gay Asylum Claims

Fadi Hanna

114 Yale L.J. 913 (2005)

Does a homosexual asylum seeker need to prove he is "gay enough" to win protection from a U.S. court? Increasingly, and troublingly, the answer is yes. In In re Soto Vega, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied a gay man's application for asylum because he appeared to…


Piercing the Veil

Madhavi Sunder

112 Yale L.J. 1399 (2003)

Human rights law has a problem with religion. In a postmodern world in which the nation-state has been deconstructed and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century notions of unmediated national sovereignty have been properly put to rest, religion--and its attendant category, cultur…


Do Human Rights Treaties Make a Difference?

Oona A. Hathaway

111 Yale L.J. 1870 (2002)

Do countries comply with the requirements of human rights treaties that they join? Are these treaties effective in chan- ging changing states' behavior for the better? This Article addresses these questions through a large-scale quan- titative analysis of the relationship be…


Corporations and Human Rights: A Theory of Legal Responsibility

Steven R. Ratner

111 Yale L.J. 443 (2001)

The path of international law over the last century has been one of increasing both the breadth and the depth of its coverage. Its breadth has grown through the addition of new areas for regulation, whether the environment, telecommunications, health, or human rights; and its…


Animal Rights

Richard A. Posner

110 Yale L.J. 527 (2000)

The "animal rights" movement is gathering steam, and Steven Wise is one of the pistons. A lawyer whose practice is the protection of animals, he has now written a book in which he urges courts in the exercise of their common-law powers of legal rulemaking to confer legally en…