International Criminal Law and Corporate Actors - Part 3: War Crimes before Domestic Courts - By Maisie Biggs

Editor’s note: Maisie Biggs graduated with a MSc in Global Crime, Justice and Security from the University of Edinburgh and holds a LLB from University College London. She is currently working with the Asser Institute in The Hague.  She has previously worked for International Justice Mission in South Asia and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) in Amsterdam.


The ‘web’ of domestic statutory liability for international criminal law (ICL) violations by legal persons has spread. The previous post in this series outlined developments at the international level, however domestic courts play a fundamental role in its development and have been far more active on this front. These domestic developments are particularly remarkable in France, The Netherlands and Sweden. The American Alien Tort Statute caselaw will be discussed in the next post in this series. 

Domestic-level developments

As the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Human Rights Council, John Ruggie has highlighted the dual role of national courts and international tribunals in developing corporate responsibility for international crimes:

“One [of two developments] is the expansion and refinement of individual responsibility by the international ad hoc criminal tribunals and the ICC Statute; the other is the extension of responsibility for international crimes to corporations under domestic law. The complex interaction between the two is creating an expanding web of potential corporate liability for international crimes, imposed through national courts.[1]

The ICC was always intended to be supplementary to domestic courts, which are integral to the implementation and development of international criminal law.[2] The ICC’s remit (and resources) do not permit it to be the forum for the vast majority of international crimes, rather it (ideally) should only be resorted to when the relevant domestic courts are unwilling or unable to field international criminal law claims. The development of ICL at the domestic level means that it may be applied to legal persons in those forums.

The comparative law issue was at the crux of the debates at the Rome Conference surrounding the drafting of the Rome Statute; it was a step too far for an international instrument to impose a new and novel application of criminal law (to legal persons) on states with no prior history of doing so.[3] In the interim however, states have begun to do so voluntarily.[4] Anita Ramasastry and Robert C Thompson completed a wide survey of 16 countries and found that the “potential web of liability”[5] is expanding. While there are variations in how criminal conduct and intent are attributed to the company, and the type of liability itself, countries are increasingly subjecting business entities to statutory liability for international crimes.

David Scheffer, having witnessed the climate surrounding corporate criminal liability during the Rome conference negotiations, has since argued that legal systems and international law have evolved due in part to those inconclusive negotiations:

“States certainly did not act as if the Rome Treaty precluded expanding corporate liability into the realm of atrocity crimes. Indeed, one might speculate that the Rome Treaty, by focusing ratifying States’ attention on atrocity crimes, provided an impetus to accord greater accountability within their domestic legal systems.” [6]

Common-law countries in general adopted corporate criminal liability earlier than civil law, however these have come on board more recently; the highest-profile hold outs against this trend remain Germany, Sweden and Russia, which use alternative mechanisms to attach liability for corporate involvement in international crimes.[7] However, actual prosecution of legal persons remains rare. Dieneke De Vos’s run down of pre-2018 developments which already evidenced the “emerging norm” of finding potential corporate liability for ICL violations at the domestic level, at the same time acknowledged the rarity of prosecution.


The Netherlands

A number of high-profile Dutch cases have arisen in recent years of corporate actors being prosecuted for war crimes and international crimes, most notably in 2017 the Dutch Court of Appeal of ’s-Hertogenbosch convicted the arms-dealer and businessman Kouwenhoven for complicity in war crimes in Liberia. Dutchman Frans van Anraat was similarly prosecuted in 2005 for complicity in war crimes, due to his company selling the chemical ‘thiodiglycol’ to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

In Dutch law a corporation can be criminally liable under article 51(1) of the Dutch Penal Code (DPC).[8] The Dutch Supreme Court has outlined the circumstances in which it would be reasonable to impute illegal conduct to the corporation in the Drijfmest case, which are relatively flexible.[9] International crimes are incorporated into Dutch domestic law through the International Crimes Act (ICA) 2003, which defined the offences as crimes (Section 10) and did not exclude legal persons (Section 16).

Businessmen have been convicted in the aforementioned Van Anraat and Kouwenhoven cases in the Netherlands, however despite the possibility of corporate criminal liability for international crimes and the Dutch reputation for being a ‘pioneer’ in this area, successful prosecutions have yet to materialise, and no cases have yet made it to the trial phase.[10]

Proceedings under the ICA were initiated against a corporation, Lima Holding B.V., in the Riwal case. The Palestinian NGO Al Haq submitted a complaint against the Dutch company for its role in the construction of a security barrier between the West Bank and Israel. The prosecutor opted not to try the case, citing practical resource issues and lack of cooperation from Israeli authorities with the extraterritorial investigation. Public prosecutor Thijs Berger has since explained that “access to the relevant administration was not possible as the information was located at a subsidiary of the corporation in Israel and the Israeli authorities refused to act on requests for legal assistance sent by the Dutch Public Prosecutor.”[11] Though not ICL cases, Dutch prosecutors have met with more success prosecuting companies for transnational crimes in the international corruption cases of SBM Offshore and VimpelCom.[12]

The reasons for the lack of Dutch prosecutions have been attributed to possible adverse impacts of a prosecution on the Dutch economy; the limited capacity of the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office; the practical issues surrounding conducting investigations on foreign territory; and the bankruptcy or otherwise disappearance of the company in question.[13]



The aforementioned cases, though they highlight the role of corporate actors in conflicts, nonetheless all involve individual liability of natural persons. However, the recent French Lafarge case involves the prosecution of the company itself (in addition to former company executives) for international crimes, including complicity in war crimes, crimes against humanity, financing of a terrorist enterprise, deliberate endangerment of people's lives and forced labour.[14]

French corporate criminal liability is vicarious: offences must be “committed on their account by their organs or representatives.”[15] For the purposes of ICL prosecutions, this might prove an issue in the future regarding who properly is a ‘representative’ or organ for the purposes of the company’s liability. However, on the other hand it does partially lower the bar for finding corporate liability once that representative’s fault[16] has been determined.[17] There are more procedural barriers than under the Dutch system, leading to questions about what these would mean should a prosecution materialise. Unlike the Dutch, the French system of universal jurisdiction for core crimes does not apply to legal persons, and the jurisdictional double criminality requirement may mean that companies may not be prosecuted if the country where the crime took place does not also subject legal persons to criminal liability.[18]

The Lafarge case in France may be the most discussed, potentially impactful contemporary case for corporate criminal liability under ICL, however French civil society groups have been especially proactive in bringing cases before prosecutors and so there are other similar cases that started before Lafarge.

The 2009 DLH France case concerned the purchase of illegally obtained timber which was helping fund the Liberian civil war, however the case was dismissed by the Public Prosecutor in 2013.[19] The Amesys case concerned the French company Amesys which contracted with the Libyan intelligence services to supply a communications surveillance system, in so doing assisting the Gaddafi regime violently target political opponents and protestors. The case for complicity in acts of torture followed a complaint filed by FIDH (Fédération Internationale des Droits de lHomme) and the French Human Rights League (Ligue française des droits de lHomme - LDH), and is being heard before the Specialised War Crimes Unit within the Paris Tribunal (Tribunal de grande instance). The case is ongoing.

The BNP Paribas Rwanda case concerns complicity in the Rwandan genocide by the French bank. In 2017 the public prosecutor opened a judicial investigation into charges of complicity in genocide and complicity of crimes against humanity. These specifically concern $1.3m USD in funds transferred by the bank (in violation of a United Nations arms embargo) that were allegedly used to purchase weapons used in the genocide.[20] The initial complaint was filed by Sherpa, Ibuka France, and the Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda. This case is also ongoing.

The 2017 judicial investigation into the Lafarge case has caused greater interest in observers. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Sherpa, and some of Lafarge’s former employees filed a criminal complaint against the French company for activities in 2013-14 by its Syrian subsidiary. The case concerns a cement plant situated in northeastern Syria which was acquired by Lafarge SA (now called LafargeHolcim) in 2007, and continued operations as Islamic State forces occupied the area. Lafarge is accused of financing IS through commercial transactions, from buying raw materials to paying fees to armed groups to continue factory operations. Now the company itself, in addition to eight of its former executives, is facing criminal prosecution, formally indicted on charges of complicity in crimes against humanity, endangerment of people's lives and financing of a terrorist enterprise.



The Swedish model, and past caselaw, were covered in our case note on the Lundin Petroleum case. In brief summary, Swedish prosecutors have utilised universal jurisdiction for international crimes in past to prosecute three individuals involved in the Rwandan genocide, and several cases of war crimes committed during the Balkan Wars.

The Lundin case concerns the culpability of Swedish corporate actors for harms perpetrated during Sudan’s oil wars. Forfeiture of economic benefits and a corporate fine (the closest punitive equivalent to corporate criminal liability under Swedish law[21]) are being levelled at Swedish oil company Lundin Petroleum SA, and two company directors are personally facing criminal prosecution for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. The forfeiture claim is for the whole profit of the oil exploitation over the years Lundin was involved in Sudan, and the two men face life in prison if found guilty, so the charges are not insubstantial. The Swedish Government’s authorisation is necessary in extraterritorial cases to allow the prosecution.[22] It was granted in this case, and subsequently the Supreme Administrative Court denied Lundin’s appeal to override the decision in favour of prosecution. Swedish police have also opened a criminal investigation into harassment of witnesses.

At the Asser event on the Lundin case, Miriam Ingeson argued that the increased capacity building for Swedish prosecutors to pursue international crimes, and a positive duty to prosecute under Swedish law have likely led to the increase in these investigations. She also explained this case will challenge Swedish courts with the question of which general principles to apply on accomplice liability; international tribunals, including the courts of Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and ICC have developed international-level principles that states are not necessarily obliged to apply. This case however does reference general international legal rules, so the Swedish rules on accomplice liability may yield to those developed by international tribunals.

The harms being investigated by the Swedish prosecutors and the depth of the company’s alleged involvement are arguably more serious than those in the French Lafarge case. Both cases are (slowly) unfolding, potentially developing customary ICL in the process, so comparisons between the two will inevitably continue.



The previous post discussed the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) case, and how heavily the judge leaned on developments in domestic courts concerning corporate liability. That judgement and these domestic developments are evidencing the interplay between the application of ICL in domestic courts[23] and the international tribunals. The 2009 prophecy of Joanna Kyriakakis now seems especially prescient:

“[T]he growing trend in legal systems in Europe, Asia, and South America to incorporate extraterritorial corporate liability for international crimes will likely function as a catalyst for courts to construe international criminal law so as to apply to corporations as non-state actors, or even bring the issue of corporate liability back to the agenda of the states parties to the ICC.”[24]

Actual prosecutions are sparse however there is nonetheless a developing trend to support the STL judge’s conclusions. This trend is still only on paper: domestic statutory corporate liability for ICL violations has become widespread, however even in these particularly active jurisdictions there have been no convictions of legal persons for international crimes. The extreme expense, political and economic issues inherent in any case of this kind preclude there ever being a deluge of cases to look at, so the small number of cases successfully making it to the investigation stages are cause for analysis. The next post in this series will be addressing the Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co and Jesner v Arab Bank cases before American courts, and specifically looking to the role of civil law in ICL.

[1] HRC, ‘Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises, Business and Human Rights: Mapping International Standards of Responsibility and Accountability for Corporate Acts’ UN Doc. A/HRC/4/35 (19 February 2007) para 22.

[2] See Mark Klamberg, ‘International Criminal Law in Swedish Courts: The Principle of Legality in the Arklöv Case’ (2009) 9 International Criminal Law Review 395.

[3] Joanna Kyriakakis, ‘Corporate Criminal Liability and the ICC Statute: The Comparative Law Challenge’ (2009) 56 Netherlands International L Rev 333, 348.

[4] David Scheffer, ‘Corporate Liability under the Rome Statute’ (2016) 57 Harvard International Law Journal Online Symposium 35, 38. See also his Amicus Curiae briefs in both Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co and Jesner v Arab Bank, PLC, which strongly argue the evolution of corporate criminal liability since the drafting of the Rome Statute.

[5] Anita Ramasastry and Robert C Thompson, ‘Commerce, Crime and Conflict: Legal Remedies for Private Sector Liability for Grave Breaches of International Law: A Survey of Sixteen Countries’ (Fafo-report no. 536, 2006) 27.

[6]Brief of Ambassador David J. Scheffer, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, as Amicus Curiae in Support of the Petitioners’ Joseph Jesner, et al., v. Arab Bank PLC, 822 F.3d 34 (2d Cir. 2016) (Jun. 26, 2017) 6.

[7] Sabine Gless and Sarah Wood, ‘General Report on Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law: Jurisdictional Issues’ in S Gless and S Broniszewska (eds) Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law: Jurisdictional Issues (International Colloquium Section 4, Basel, 21-23 June 2017) 18.

[8] Article 51 Dutch Penal Code:

[…] 2. If an offence has been committed by a legal person, prosecution can be instituted and the punishments and measures provided by law can be imposed, if applicable, on:

a. The legal person, or

b. Those who have ordered the offence, as well as on those who have actually controlled the forbidden act, or

c. The persons mentioned under 1. And 2. Together

3. For the application of the former subsections, equal status as a legal person applies to a company without legal personality, a partnership, a firm of ship owners, and a separate capital sum assembled for a special purpose.

[9] See English summary in Emma van Gelder and Cedric Ryngaert, ‘Dutch Report on Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law’ in S Gless and S Broniszewska (eds) Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law: Jurisdictional Issues (International Colloquium Section 4, Basel, 21-23 June 2017) 114.

[10] Cedric Ryngaert, ‘Accountability for Corporate Human Rights Abuses: Lessons from the Possible Exercise of Dutch National Criminal Jurisdiction over Multinational Corporations’ (2018) 29 Criminal Law Forum 1, 8.

[11] van Gelder and Ryngaert (n 10) 129.

[12] ibid 130.

[13] ibid 143.

[14] For more background on this case, see the previous Doing Business Right post by Alexandru Tofan.

[15] France Penal Code, Article 121-2 [paragraph 1].

[16] France Penal Code, Article 121-2 [paragraph 3]: “The criminal liability of legal persons does not exclude that of the natural persons who are perpetrators or accomplices to the same act”.

[17] “In an important judgment of 2001 the Court of cassation stated that the body’s or representative’s fault is sufficient to trigger the criminal liability of the corporation in case the offence has been committed on the legal person’s behalf. It is not necessary to characterize a separate fault of the corporation” in Juliette Lelieur, ‘French Report on Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law’ in S Gless and S Broniszewska (eds) Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law: Jurisdictional Issues (International Colloquium Section 4, Basel, 21-23 June 2017) 185.

[18] ibid 180.

[19] Of note: the case was at least partially under French criminal law rather than application of ICL.

[20] This is not the first time the bank has faced these types of claims: “The investigation into BNP comes three years after US regulators extracted a record $8.9bn fine and a guilty plea from the bank, finding that it broke US sanctions by processing more than $30bn of transactions for groups in Sudan, Iran and Cuba between 2002 and 2012. The bank was also given a one-year ban on clearing some dollar transactions.” in Martin Arnold, ‘BNP Paribas under investigation over role in Rwanda genocide’ Financial Times (September 25 2017).

[21] In the Swedish context “a corporate fine is not considered a penalty for a crime but is an extraordinary legal remedy serving as a repressive sanction supplanting corporate criminal liability,” in Miriam Ingeson and Alexandra Lily Kather, ‘The Road Less Traveled: How Corporate Directors Could be Held Individually Liable in Sweden for Corporate Atrocity Crimes Abroad’.

[22] ibid.

[23] Jonathan Clough, ‘Not-so-innocents abroad: corporate criminal liability for human rights abuses’ (2005) 11(1) Australian Journal of Human Rights 1, 7.

[24] Kyriakakis (n 3) 348.

International Criminal Law and Corporate Actors - Part 2: The Rome Statute and its Aftermath - By Maisie Biggs

Editor’s note: Maisie Biggs graduated with a MSc in Global Crime, Justice and Security from the University of Edinburgh and holds a LLB from University College London. She is currently working with the Asser Institute in The Hague.  She has worked for International Justice Mission in South Asia and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) in Amsterdam.


The Rome Statute is a central pillar of international criminal law (ICL), and so any discussion concerning the subjection of legal persons requires a revisit of the negotiations surrounding its drafting. However in the time since its implementation, there appears to have been a shift in ICL regarding corporate liability. Developing customary international law, treaty law and now most domestic legal systems have some established mechanisms for prosecuting legal persons for violations of ICL. More...

International Criminal Law and Corporate Actors - Part 1: From Slave Trade Tribunals to Nuremberg - By Maisie Biggs

Editors’ note: Maisie Biggs graduated with a MSc in Global Crime, Justice and Security from the University of Edinburgh and holds a LLB from University College London. She is currently working with the Asser Institute in The Hague.  She has worked for International Justice Mission in South Asia and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) in Amsterdam.


The Nuremberg Trials were a defining and foundational moment for international criminal law, and the first instance in which the question of international legal responsibility of corporate actors, including natural persons and corporations, was first broached. The Tribunals elected to only prosecute natural persons, however a brief analysis of the reasoning indicates it was political rather than legal considerations that led to this distinction. International law and corporate actors have a storied history that merits drawing the timeline back earlier than Nuremberg. This is the first in a series of blog posts exploring the intersection between corporations and international criminal law (ICL).

As is well known, corporations are not subjected to the Rome Statute and do not fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yet, as we will show there have been interesting recent developments at the intersection between ICL and the activities of corporations. In 2014, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (Al Jadeed S.A.L. & Ms Khayat (STL-14-05)) acknowledged the development of domestic corporate accountability, and determined that ICL has likewise progressed. Meanwhile, cases against individuals (such as the ongoing Lundin case in Sweden) or corporations (such as the Lafarge case in France) involving the activities of corporations abroad have been initiated by national prosecutors on the basis of ICL.

These cases and potential implications will be discussed in more depth in later posts, however it is interesting that while some academics and judges are tracking the ostensibly ‘new’ legal movements to subject corporate activities to greater regulation,[1] the history of international law itself shows that harmful transnational commerce has been an issue for a long time, and this is not the first time international law has been used as a tool against jurisdiction-hopping corporate crime.More...

New Event! Towards Criminal Liability of Corporations for Human Rights Violations: The Lundin Case in Sweden - 23 May - Asser Institute

This autumn, two oil industry executives may be indicted in Sweden for aiding and abetting international crimes in Sudan. Furthermore, the public prosecutor will also likely seek forfeiture of $400 million from their company, Lundin Petroleum, reflecting the benefits derived from its Sudanese operations. The case follows the 2018 French indictment of LafargeHolcim for alleged crimes committed in Syria, showing that corporate liability for international crimes is gaining traction, before European courts at least.

This event aims to discuss the Lundin case, which has the potential of becoming a landmark trial because of the novelty and complexity of the legal issues that the court will have to decide. In particular, with regard to the assessment of the individual criminal liability of the executives of Lundin, the determination of the applicable standards of proof, the question whether a lack of due diligence is sufficient for a finding of guilt, and the limits and overlap of individual criminal liability of corporate directors on the one hand and corporate criminal liability of organisations on the other.

The event will feature three speakers, who will be presenting the various dimensions of the case and will put it into the more general context of the current legal developments with regard to criminal liability of corporations (and their executives) for human rights violations:

  • Egbert Wesselink will provide an introduction to Sudan’s oil war, describe Lundin’s role in it, and examine the human rights responsibilities of the company and its shareholders.
  • Dr. Mark Taylor will discuss how the Lundin case sits in global developments regarding the criminal liability of corporations for human rights abuses in the context of conflicts.
  • Miriam Ingeson will give a Swedish perspective to the legal framework of the case and analyse the legal issues that it raises at the intersection between national and international law.

The speakers:

  • Egbert Wesselink serves as Senior Advisor in PAX, the Dutch peace movement, where he is responsible for the programme on Natural Resources, Conflict and Human Rights, that focusses on the impact of international enterprises on the rights and interests of communities, notably in Sudan, South Sudan, DRC and Colombia. He represents PAX in several multi-stakeholder initiatives, including the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in an effort to increase the impact of emerging international guidelines, and advises various enterprises.
  • Dr. Mark Taylor is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Private Law, University of Oslo and presently a Visiting Fellow at the Amsterdam Center for International Law, University of Amsterdam. Mark writes on legal and policy frameworks applicable to responsible business and will publish the book “War Economies and International Law: Regulating the Economic Activity of Armed Conflict” (based on his PhD thesis) with Cambridge University Press. Mark is an advisor to various initiatives in the field of responsible business and is a member of the Norwegian Ethics Information Commission (2018-2019), a government commission which is considering a proposed law on human rights information in the global value chains of Norwegian business.
  • Miriam Ingeson is a PhD candidate at Uppsala University, Sweden.  Her research project explores corporate criminal liability in international criminal law, and the intersection of domestic criminal law and public international law. She has previously held positions with the Swedish Prosecution Authority, the Folke Bernadotte Academy and the Swedish Ministry of Justice.

The moderator:

  • Dr. Antoine Duval is Senior Researcher at the Asser Institute and the coordinator of the Doing Business Right project.

For some background material on the case and its wider context, see

More information and registration Here!

Modern Slavery in our backyard: Dutch shipbuilders, Polish shipyards and North Korean Slaves - Asser Institute - 6 February

Slavery has long been banished by law in Europe (since 1863 in The Netherlands), but it has not disappeared from the face of this earth, nor apparently from the territory of the European Union. Thus, a recent report by the Leiden Asia Centre (under the coordination of Prof. Remco Breuker and Imke van Gardingen) showed how workers from North Korea were brought to Poland in order to work in slavery-like conditions for the shipbuilding industry there. In coordination with the researchers, a team of journalists shot the documentary Dollar Heroes on North Korean workers around the globe which will be shown at the end of the event. It will be preceded by a panel discussion on the legal accountability of a Dutch shipbuilding firm which ordered and controlled the construction of ships in the polish shipyards where North-Korean workers were active. Indeed, in November 2018, a North-Korean worker lodged a criminal complaint with the Dutch prosecutor’s office against the Dutch firm. This case raises important questions on the potential criminal liability of corporations for instances of slavery inside their transnational supply chains.

15:00 - 16:30 – Panel discussion on the criminal liability of Dutch shipbuilders for the exploitation of North Korean workers in Polish Shipyards:

  •        Imke van Gardingen (FNV)
  •        Barbara van Straaten (Prakken d’Oliveira)
  •        Prof. Cedric Ryngaert (Utrecht University)
  •        Prof. Remco Breuker (Leiden University)
  •        Antoine Duval (Asser Institute) - Moderator

16:30 – 18:00 – Showing of Dollar Heroes followed by a Q&A with Sebastian Weis (Vice) and Prof. Remco Breuker (Leiden University)

Please register HERE!

Accountability for the exploitation of North Korean workers in the Shipbuilding Industry through Dutch Criminal Law – By Imke B.L.H. van Gardingen

Editor’s note: Imke B.L.H. van Gardingen (LLM Int. and EU labour law, MA Korean Studies) is a policy advisor on labour migration at the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions (FNV) and a researcher on DPRK overseas labour.


On November 8, 2018 a North Korean overseas worker who had worked in slave like conditions for a Polish shipyard, a supplier of a Dutch shipbuilding company, has filed a criminal complaint against the Dutch firm. The Dutch Penal Code, article 273f(6), includes a provision criminalizing the act of ‘profiting’ from labour exploitation, targeting not the direct perpetrators in the labour exploitation, but the ones profiting from this exploitation. This is a unique case that aims to hold the company at the top of the chain accountable for modern slavery in its supply chain. A chain that in the case of shipbuilding is rather short; the buyer subcontracts the core business of building the complete hull under detailed instructions cheaply abroad. More...

The Lafarge Affair: A First Step Towards Corporate Criminal Liability for Complicity in Crimes against Humanity - By Alexandru Tofan

Editor's note: Before joining the Asser Institute as an intern, Alexandru Tofan pursued an LLM in Transnational Law at King’s College London where he focused on international human rights law, transnational litigation and international law. He also worked simultaneously as a research assistant at the Transnational Law Institute in London on several projects pertaining to human rights, labour law and transnational corporate conduct.

The recent indictment of the French multinational company ‘Lafarge’ for complicity in crimes against humanity marks a historic step in the fight against the impunity of corporations.  It represents the first time that a company has been indicted on this ground and, importantly, the first time that a French parent company has been charged for the acts undertaken by one of its subsidiaries abroad.  Notably, the Lafarge case fuels an important debate on corporate criminal liability for human rights violations and may be a game changer in this respect.  This article analyses this case and seeks to provide a comprehensive account of its background and current procedural stage. More...