ICJ Expert Legal Panel on Corporate Complicity - Invitation for Submissions

ICJ Expert Legal Panel on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes

Invitation for Submissions

Deadline: 29 Dec 2006

Business activity brings benefits to individuals and society. Nonetheless businesses have been involved in serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law that amount to international crimes*.  Even if such business involvement is rare, the serious nature of the actions in question raises concern. There is an increasing call to hold businesses legally accountable for their ‘complicity’ in the acts of others which amount to international crimes. However uncertainty, confusion and a lack of legal precision remain in relation to when businesses can be said to be complicit in these serious actions. 

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has convened an Expert Legal Panel of eight eminent lawyers to develop and clarify the legal and public policy meaning of corporate complicity in international crimes. The Panel will develop principles to help businesses, investors, governments, the United Nations and NGOs understand when businesses have, and have not, crossed the line and become participants in serious violations of international law. Importantly the principles will assist businesses in their efforts to ensure they do not become participants in international crimes.

In order to complete their task it is crucial that the Panel receive comments and views from as wide a variety of perspectives as possible. Submissions received in response to this invitation will supplement the expert research and consultation meetings that are central to informing the Panel.

We would welcome answers to all or any of the following questions:

1. How can companies ensure that their actions and omissions do not contribute to international crimes?

2. What kinds of business actions and omissions may contribute to international crimes?

3. Do you think there are ways in which businesses can contribute to international crimes through passive involvement in, or benefit from, a situation?

4. What kinds of business actions and omissions that contribute to international crimes should attract legal liability? Why?

5. What kinds of business actions and omissions that contribute to international crimes should not attract legal liability? Why?

6. What sanction, if any, would be appropriate for a company that has contributed to an international crime? If you do not consider any sanction appropriate please explain why.

We would also welcome submissions related to any of the following:

 Factual Situations

• Factual situations where companies have ensured that they have not contributed to international crimes;

• Factual situations where it has been alleged that companies have contributed to international crimes;

• Case studies or details of relevant litigation in national courts;

Law and Regulation

• National and international regulations and laws which are relevant to the question of corporate complicity in international crimes;

• International regulations and laws which create liability for business involvement in violations of international law;

If you would like to submit relevant documentation or information on topics other than those listed here please do so. Please send submissions and comments to [email protected]. Please clearly indicate your name, organisation (if applicable) and contact details.

*Acts that are widely recognized as international crimes include: genocide; war crimes; and crimes against humanity e.g. apartheid, enforced disappearance, enslavement, extrajudicial killing, torture. This list is not comprehensive and is intended only as a guide for those seeking explanation of the phrase “international crimes.”