human rights & business (and a few other things)

Exploitation of Natural Resources as a War Crime – New Campaign Including a Brilliant Video

Three NGOs, the Open Society Justice Initiative, Conflict Awareness Project and TRIAL (Track Impunity Always) have joined forced to advance the fight against the looting of natural resources in conflict zones.

The “Stop Pillage” Campaign (#StopPillage on Twitter)  seeks to hold perpetrators and accomplices of pillage around the world accountable by gathering reports, conducting investigations, building cases for criminal complaints, and raising global public awareness. They have put together a really good video which I highly recommend.

The difficulties in holding corporations and corporate leaders to account for this kind of behaviour are many. Often the crimes occur in areas of weak governance, where nothing can be expected from the local authorities. Another option is to initiate proceedings in the countries of incorporation of the parent companies, or of residence of the individuals but this raises often insurmountable jurisdictional issues, not to mention the costs that are prohibitive for disempowered victims living on the other side of the world. A final option is prosecution by the International Criminal Court, for example on the basis of the nationality of the offender (Article 12 ICC Statute). The problem is that since the Court is supposed to focus on the worst crimes and the worst perpetrators, this kind of accomplice liability is unlikely to be considered “grave enough” for the Court to look into it. Moreover the Court does not have jurisdiction over corporations, only individuals.

On 14 November 2013 the New York Times published an interesting article on this issue by James G. Stewart, an assistant professor of law at the University of British Columbia and formerly part of the office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

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