Gaps in Corporate Liability

Limited Investigations of Corporate Crimes in Armed Conflicts

In: International Community Law Review
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  • 1 Ph.D., University Paris Nanterre (CEDIN), Paris, France
  • | 2 LL.M., Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland
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Fact-finding is a fundamental step in providing documentation that can be used in domestic and international proceedings. The United Nations establishes commissions of inquiry to investigate international law violations, often in contexts of armed conflict, under the mandate of the Human Rights Council or other more political organs of the UN. They vary in mandate, as well as in investigative and geographic scope. However, to this day, fact-finding mechanisms or inquiry commissions have only rarely conducted investigations into corporate crimes, even in cases where the UN has explicitly recognized the part played by economic actors in armed conflicts. Because corporations are not subjects of international law, they are presumed not to have any direct obligations under international law. Moreover, the mandates of fact-finding missions de facto exclude corporations from investigations because such mandates are always designed to investigate international law violations. By voluntarily dismissing any investigation of corporate crimes, the UN is significantly limiting prospects for corporate responsibility and impeding the process of transitional justice.

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