The Complicity of Multinational Corporations in International Crimes : an Examination of Principles

  • Jessie Chella

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines issues relating to the complicity of legal persons in international crimes. Specifically, this thesis addresses multinational corporations (hereafter MNCs) that aid and abet international crimes such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. This thesis discusses these issues with reference to MNCs in the extractiveindustries, that is, oil, gas or mining MNCs, that operate within conflict-affected areas or weak-governance zones in Africa.Currently, international criminal law does not recognise the complicit liability of corporations or any other legal persons. This is of grave concern at a time when business enterprises are increasingly being accused of complicity in international crimes. Models of corporate liability can be found in most domestic jurisdictions, but international jurisdictions have yet to develop instruments that address the issue. Regrettably, the domestic jurisdictions, where these kinds of crimes occur, have not been known to enforce criminal sanctions on culpable persons – whether natural or legal persons. Therefore, these issues should be addressed in international forums where domestic jurisdictions prove inadequate. There is a need for a doctrine of corporate liability in international criminal law to address this issue. Hence, this thesis recommends that the International Criminal Court (hereafter ICC) is the preferred institution to deal with the problem of complicit organisational liability in international crimes. This thesis further recommends that the ICC Rome Statute should be revisited by the ICC State Parties in order to develop an appropriate framework of liability which takes into account the characteristic forms of corporate complicity in international crimes.
Date of Award6 Oct 2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorEric Colvin (Supervisor)

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