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Policy Papers - July 15, 2004

Business and International Crimes: Assessing the Liability of Business Entities for Grave Violations of International Law

International Peace Institute and FAFO

 

 

There is a climate of impunity surrounding economic activities that promote or sustain conflict and human rights abuse. Many private business entities in search of extractive resources and inexpensive labor operate in developing countries beset by violence, repression, or war, where effective governance and accountability are absent. The exploitation of and trade in natural resources and other so-called "conflict commodities"provide a major source of revenue for criminalized elites or rebel factions.


The two studies summarized here map the provisions of the relevant international and national laws, and summarize the jurisprudence developed by national and international case law. The objective of our approach has been to promote the systematic identification and strengthening of existing criminal law norms and practices as a mechanism to effectively deter and sanction illicit economic exploitation in repressive or war-torn countries.

To this end, Business and International Crimes is addressed to policymakers and practitioners in government and business, as well as affected communities and civil society organizations. Ultimately, the project represents a modest attempt to provide some clarity about the nature and extent of the legal foundations for the regulation of private sector activities in those countries. It is our hope that the study will prompt further legal research by jurists, consideration of legal action by the appropriate authorities or affected communities, and development of internal compliance procedures by companies operating in conflict zones.

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