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International Criminal Court to Pay More Attention to Business and Human Rights Issues
Author: Nadia Bernaz, Middlesex University School of Law, Published on: 15 September 2016
... [T]here is no change in the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court ... However, the policy paper is important from a business and human rights perspective because it may result in acts the Court previously considered irrelevant now being considered relevant either as contextual elements or as material elements of crimes against humanity ... It is well documented that land grabs, the exploitation of natural resources and environmental damage tend to primarily victimize already marginalized communities such as indigenous communities and other minorities. The exploitation of natural resources, for example, can result in forcible transfers of population in order to free up the space for corporations. Moreover, the International Criminal Court’s definition of crimes against humanity does not require those crimes to be committed in the context of an armed conflict. It only requires a “widespread and systematic attack directed against a civilian population”, which may or may not include acts of physical violence. A mass eviction, for example, could be considered an attack for the purposes of the Statute even if no blood is shed. Hence the law is already in place to allow prosecutions for crimes against humanity on those grounds ... This new policy document, therefore, is of paramount importance for the field of business and human rights. It means that governmental officials and, if relevant, corporate officials engaging in activities such as land grabs and the exploitation of natural resources are now fair game in The Hague.