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.
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
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
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,
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
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 www.unpaiddebt.org & www.lundinhistoryinsudan.com.
More information and registration Here!
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!
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...
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.
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...