Complicity - an introduction
Below are select introductory materials on business and complicity in human rights abuses. Further reports from a wide range of sources are in the "Complicity" section of our site.
- Key international standards
- Key reports & guidance
- Concerns, company responses & non-responses
- Positive steps by companies
- Lawsuits regarding complicity in human rights abuses
Key international standards
Rome Statute of International Criminal Court: part 3, article 25.3(b)-(d)
Statute of International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia [PDF]: articles 4.3(e) and 7.1
Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: articles 2.3(e) and 6.1
Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone [PDF]: article 6.1
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1379 (2001) [PDF]: paragraph 9(c)
Key reports & guidance
"Complicity - Assessing corporate responsibility for violations committed by political authorities" [PDF], chapter VII (pp. 121-142) of Beyond Voluntarism: Human rights and the developing international legal obligations of companies [full report], Intl. Council on Human Rights Policy, Jan 2002
Report of the Expert Legal Panel on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes, Intl. Commission of Jurists, Sep 2008
Understanding Corporate Complicity: Extending the Notion beyond Existing Laws, Irene Khan, Secretary-General of Amnesty Intl., at Business & Human Rights Seminar, London, 8 Dec 2005
Compliance or Complicity? Human rights and businesses [PDF], Daan Schoemaker, Sustainalytics, July 27, 2009
Complicity in Human Rights Violations: A Responsible Business Approach to Suppliers [PDF], Margaret Jungk, Human Rights & Business Programme, Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2006
Concerns, company responses & non-responses
The Resource Centre invites companies to respond to allegations of misconduct. Below are examples of allegations and company responses regarding complicity in human rights abuses. We also indicate when a company has not responded.
Global: "Fanning the Flames": War on Want report alleges UK mining companies involved in human rights abuses overseas, Dec 2007. Responses from Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanto, BHP Billiton, Global Coal Management, Moterrico Metals, Oxus Gold, Rio TintoSibuyan Nickel Property Development Corp, Vedanta Resources. No response received from Xstrata.
Argentina: Ledesma accused of complicity with detention, torture & “disappearance” of over 400 people by dictatorship’s security forces in 1976; also accused of recent pollution resulting in illness & death. Aug, Nov 2006. Response from Ledesma.
Argentina: Ford statement regarding legal claims brought by former employees who say they were kidnapped and tortured on Ford Argentina premises during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, Mar 2007. Response from Ford.
Burma: Burma Campaign UK says firms providing insurance to companies operating in Burma "support dictators", Aug 2008. Responses from ACE, Al Wasl Insurance Brokers, Lloyd's of London, OCBC Bank, Sompo Japan Insurance. No response received from Atrium Underwriting, Catlin, Labuan Re, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, Pana Harrison, QBE, Target Insurance Brokers, Tokio Marine.
Burma: Social investors ask whether Toyota can maintain its investments in Burma "without supporting the military regime and its egregious abuses of human rights", Mar 2008. No response received from Toyota.
Burma: Burma Campaign UK adds 30 firms to "Dirty List", Jan 2009. Responses from Djoser Reisen, Electric Power Development Company (EPDC), OrkideExpressen, Regent Holidays, Shellseekers, SpiceRoads, Studiosus, TUI, UMW Holdings. No responses received from Asiana, China Gezhouba Group Co. (CGGC), China Hydropower Engineering Group Co. (CHECC), China National Electric Equipment Co., Exotissimo, Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank), First Cabin, Gaffney Cline & Associates, Grand Circle Travels, Hunan Savoo Overseas Water & Electric Engineering Co., Kansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO), Kunming Hydroelectric Investigation, Lotus Travel Service, Malcolm Dunstan & Associates (MD&A) British, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, Nobel Oil, Sputnik Petroleum, Wendy Wu Tours, Yunnan Machinery Equipment Import & Export Co. (YMEC), Yunnan Power Grid Co
Chad/Cameroon: Chad-Cameroon pipeline: Amnesty International says governments, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Petronasare "contracting out" of their human rights obligations, Sep 2005. Responses from Chevron, ExxonMobil, Petronas.
China: 3 international human rights experts (Mary Robinson, Sir Geoffrey Chandler, Nick Howen) criticise Yahoo!’s response to its involvement in the case of journalist Shi Tao (in which it said only that it “complies with national laws”), Sep 2005. No response received from Yahoo!
Ghana: NGOs say mining companies have impeded food production, led to serious human rights abuses by the military, Jun 2008. Responses from AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont. No response received from Golden Star, Redback Mining.
Israel/ Occupied Territories: US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation calls on Motorola to stop providing products used in "Israel's illegal military occupation and human rights violations", Mar 2008. Response from Motorola.
Sudan: Olympic Dream for Darfur calls on Olympic corporate sponsors to raise Sudan concerns with Chinese Govt., Nov 2007. Reponses from: adidas, Anheuser-Busch, Atos Origin, Coca-Cola, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Lenovo, McDonald's, Microsoft, Panasonic (part of Matsushita), Samsung, Staples, Swatch, Visa, Volkswagen. No response from BHP Billiton, Manulife, UPS.
Positive steps by companies
Lawsuits regarding complicity in human rights abuses
Related stories and components
Author: Leber Jeweler
Leber Jeweler Inc…has expressed outrage over the decision by the Kimberley Process governing body to allow Zimbabwe to remain a member in good standing, despite overwhelming evidence of blatant human rights violations directly tied to diamond mining...
- Related stories: Zimbabwe escapes sanctions under Kimberley Process for abuses in Marange diamond fields
- Related in-depth areas: Complicity - an introduction
- Related companies: Leber Jeweler
Author: Marie Trigona, Centre for International Policy
In August, Kraft fired 160 workers after they went on strike to demand proper health measures at the company's factory in suburban Buenos Aires during the swine flu epidemic in Argentina... almost all of the factory's union delegates were fired…Kraft...
- Related stories: Argentina: Kraft faces protests from workers alleging anti-union practices, intimidation, detention, violence
- Related in-depth areas: Arbitrary detention - an introduction Complicity - an introduction
- Related companies: Kraft Foods
Author: Ben Bland, Asia Sentinel
One of Australia's largest engineering companies is abruptly pulling out of Burma after an investigation…revealed that a subsidiary was working on the construction of a lavish new airport for the repressive junta in Naypyidaw, the generals' reclusive...
Author: Burma Campaign UK
..QBE Insurance has announced it has cancelled insurance it provided to Burma and is to cease providing insurance to companies operating in the country…In a statement to the Burma Campaign UK, Frank O’Halloran, QBE’s Chief Executive said: “QBE has...
Le gouvernement allemand a indiqué vendredi avoir demandé à une société munichoise d'arrêter de livrer du papier spécial pour l'impression de billets de banque au régime du président zimbabwéen Robert Mugabe... La société Giesecke & Devrient GmbH ...
- Related stories: Allemagne : Le gouvernement demande à Giesecke & Devrient d'arrêter de fournir le régime Mugabe
- Related in-depth areas: Complicity - an introduction
- Related companies: Giesecke & Devrient
[PDF] Universal Periodic Review - Ghana (May 2008) Human Rights violations in the context of large-scale mining operations - Submission by FIAN International
Author: FoodFirst Information & Action Network
The intention of this submission is to draw attention to the number and intensity of human rights violations in the context of large-scale mining operations in Ghana...During the reporting period, the expansion of existing as well as the development...
- Related stories: Ghana: Report says deployment of military to mining areas has led to serious human rights violations
- Related in-depth areas: Complicity - an introduction Displacement - an introduction Right to food - an introduction
- Related companies: AngloGold Ashanti Golden Star Resources Newmont Red Back Mining
Author: US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation...launch[es] [the] newest corporate accountability campaign—“Hang Up on Motorola”. Under international law, all corporations have obligations to uphold, respect and protect fundamental human rights....
- Related stories: US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation calls on Motorola to stop providing products used in "Israel’s illegal military occupation and human rights violations”
- Related in-depth areas: Complicity - an introduction Israel & Palestine NGO Technology and telecommunication
- Related companies: Motorola
[DOC] Letter to Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho from Trillium Asset Management & Domini Social Investments regarding Toyota group investments in Burma
Author: Susan Baker Martin, Trillium Asset Management & Adam Kanzer, Domini Social Investments
We are writing to Toyota Motor Corporation because Toyota’s business ties to the military regime in Burma present a notable material risk to the reputation of the Toyota brand and long-term shareholder value... Toyota Motor Corporation’s trading...
- Related stories: Social investors ask whether Toyota can maintain its investments in Burma "without supporting the military regime and its egregious abuses of human rights".
- Related in-depth areas: Complicity - an introduction Security issues & conflict zones - an introduction
- Related companies: Suzuki Toyota
Author: Sir Geoffrey Chandler, Founder-Chair, Amnesty International UK Business Group 1991-2001, former Director of Shell International.
Total’s response to criticisms of its presence in Burma is in the worst tradition of corporate irresponsibility...Its claim to have ‘neither moral nor political authority’* to condemn the repression is contemptible. Political authority, no. But...
- Related stories: Sir Geoffrey Chandler: "Total’s response to criticisms of its presence in Burma is in the worst tradition of corporate irresponsibility"
- Related in-depth areas: Complicity - an introduction
- Related companies: Total
Author: War on Want
[Anglo American] is profiting from a pattern of global abuse and brutality against poor people, including the murder of opponents who say the firm’s mining operations threaten their livelihoods. In a new report War on Want cites the killing of...
- Related stories: War on Want report alleges Anglo American "profits from abuse, murders"
- Related in-depth areas: Complicity - an introduction Extractive industry Health - an introduction NGO Security issues & conflict zones - an introduction
- Related companies: Anglo American Anglo Platinum (part of Anglo American)