Sept. 16, 2008: New ICJ Publication: Corporate Complicity in International Crimes

Publish Date: 
Thursday, August 2, 2012

International Commission of Jurists makes public report on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes

On September 16, 2008, the ICJ's Expert Legal Panel on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes, which was established in 2006 to develop the legal and public policy meaning of corporate complicity in the worst violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that amount to international crimes, has concluded its work and released its final report to the public.
After more than two years of work, on 16 September 2008 the ICJ Panel made public the results of its work in three separate volumes each one addressing corporate complicity in gross human rights violations from different angles.

In Volume 2 [PDF], the Panel looks in detail at the ways in which criminal responsibility may arise for companies when they are implicated with another actor in the commission of gross human rights abuses amounting to crimes under international law.  It also looks briefly at national criminal accountability in relation to such crimes.

In Volume 3 [PDF], the Panel explores the comparative law of domestic civil liability (domestic law of tort in common law jurisdictions and the law of non-contractual obligations in civil law jurisdictions) and the ways in which, across jurisdictions, civil liability may arise for companies and/or their officials when they are complicit in gross human rights abuses. 

In Volume 1 [PDF], the Panel describes the conduct that a prudent company should avoid if it is to ensure that it as a legal entity and/or its individual representatives do not risk being held legally responsible in civil or criminal law when they are complicit in gross human rights abuses committed by others. In other words, Volume 1 seeks to elaborate a set of generic, core principles in relation to complicit conduct that does or should give rise to legal liability. Because it addresses corporate complicity in gross human rights violations from a policy angle this volume may be better understood after reading the two other legal volumes.
The Expert Legal Panel was integrated by eight expert jurists in different fields of expertise, from five continents, and representing both common law and civil law legal traditions. They are: Professor Andrew Clapham (UK), Mr. Claes Cronstedt (Sweden), Professor Louise Doswald-Beck (Switzerland), Professor John Dugard (South Africa), Dr. Alberto León Gómez-Zuluaga (Colombia), Dr. Howard Mann (Canada), Dr. Usha Ramanathan (India), and Professor Ralph G. Steinhardt (USA). During the more than two years of deliberations and drafting, the Panel benefited from the expertise and advise of scores of jurists, businessmen and human rights activists. It commissioned papers from leading academics, practitioners and corporate counsel on several relevant and sought input from lawyers, business representatives and others via an online request for submissions. “The legal quality of the Panel, the length and considered deliberation process and the clarity in addressing the issue of corporate complicity from various angles makes this report a necessary reference and an invaluable guidance tool for all stakeholders, foremost companies, who want to avoid corporate involvement in gross human rights abuses”, added the ICJ.

“In the next few months, the ICJ plans to hold a series of events across regions to present to different audiences the results of the Panel’s work and seek comments and recommendations on the ways to move forward with this report”, said the ICJ.