Research Fellow Dalia Palombo awarded with Doctoral degree

17 July 2017

It is a great pleasure to congratulate Dr Dalia Palombo, currently a Research Fellow at the MPI Luxembourg for Procedural Law, Department of International Law and Dispute Resolution, for having been awarded the Doctoral degree by Maastricht University. In addition, the Board of the Faculty of Law has nominated her for the Annual Max Van Der Stoel Human Rights Award, a prize competition for human rights thesis in the Netherlands and Flanders.

On 30 June 2017 Dalia Palombo successfully defended her thesis entitled “Business and Human Rights: The Obligations of the European Home State”. Besides her supervisors, Professors Fons Coomans and Bruno de Witte, her supervisory committee included Professors Menno Kamminga, Jan Eijsbouts, Yuval Shany, David Kershaw (also members of the assessment committee), and Professors Hans Nelen (Chairman), Cees Flinterman, and Jennifer Sellin.

In her thesis, Dalia Palombo analyses the accountability of European home States for their failure to secure the human rights of host State’s victims against transnational enterprises. It has the following three purposes.

The first objective is to assess the legal remedies currently available to the victims of human rights abuses coming from host States against a holding company incorporated in a European home State. She conducts the first limb of analysis on the basis of three case studies where a holding company H is incorporated in the United Kingdom (UK) with subsidiaries incorporated in Bangladesh, Ecuador, and Nigeria. The issue is whether, under international, European, and domestic UK law, Bangladeshi, Ecuadorian, and Nigerian stakeholders have effective means of redress against such UK holding company.

The second objective is to demonstrate that the failure of European States to secure the victims of human rights abuses against European multinational enterprises is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. She conducts this second limb of analysis on the basis of the United Nations Treaty Bodies and the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence on the positive obligations of States to secure human rights. She refers to the distinction between the duty to protect and fulfil to set up two shades of such obligation to secure.

The third objective is normative. She proposes that human rights victims use strategic litigation at both the domestic and international level to push for a change of the current state of the law. The goal is to empower human rights victims coming from developing countries against European States, which are unwilling to hold multinational enterprises responsible for human rights abuses. She proposes some avenues for legal reform that European States could implement to provide victims with effective remedies against multinational corporations and prevent the human rights abuses committed by such companies.