While businesses and their officials are sometimes directly and immediately responsible for human rights abuses, allegations are frequently made about their complicity in such crimes.
In such circumstances, human rights organizations and activists, international policy makers, government experts, and businesses themselves, now use the phrase “business complicity in human rights abuses” to describe what they view as undesirable business involvement in such abuses. This development has spawned reports, analysis, debate and questions.
What does it mean for a business to be “complicit”? What are the consequences of such complicity? How can businesses avoid becoming complicit? How should they be held to account for their complicity? In many respects, although the use of the term is widespread, there continues to be considerable confusion and uncertainty about the boundaries of this concept and in particular when legal liability, both civil and criminal, could arise.
In 2006, in order to address some of these questions the International Commission of Jurists asked eight expert jurists to form the Expert Legal Panel on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes. The Panel was asked to explore when companies and their officials could be held legally responsible under criminal and/or civil law when they are complicit in gross human rights abuses and to provide guidance as to the kind of situations prudent companies should avoid.
Vol.1-Corporate legal accountability-thematic report-2008 (full text in English)
Vol.2-Corporate legal accountability-thematic report-2008 (full text in English)
Vol.3-Corporate legal accountability-thematic report-2008 (full text in English)ReportsThematic reports