A global expert on international crime has published new legal guidelines for prosecuting corporations for the illegal exploitation of natural resources. The legal manual is expected to spark prosecution of companies whose dealings in resources such as diamonds, gold, oil and tin help bankroll atrocity.
Authored by University of British Columbia law professor James Stewart for the Open Society Foundations, Corporate War Crimes: Prosecuting Commercial Actors for Pillaging Natural Resource outlines the legal basis for prosecuting corporations and their representatives for the war crime of pillaging natural resources.
A lack of legal clarity has prevented courts from holding companies accountable for war crimes, says Stewart, who will lead a major international conference on the issue of corporate liability for pillaging natural resources from Oct. 29-30 in The Hague, Netherlands. The conference will bring together the world’s top experts and practitioners of international criminal law.
Editors: UBC’s TV and radio studio is available for double-enders before Prof. Stewart leaves for The Hague. Contact Anna Gouwenberg to attend the conference or interview speakers at email@example.com
According to Stewart, launching the 164–page manual with the Open Society Justice Initiative at such a gathering could signify an important milestone in the history of global justice. The conference is sponsored by the Dutch and Canadian Ministries of Justice, the Open Society Justice Initiative, UBC’s Faculty of Law and Leiden University.
“These events mark a turning point in accountability for commercial practices that sustain atrocity,” says Stewart, who previously worked for the prosecution of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Since the end of the Cold War, the illegal exploitation of natural resources has emerged as a primary means of financing conflict, especially in countries such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Iraq, East Timor, and Myanmar. The trade in natural resources has provided armies with the funds necessary to purchase arms and maintain hostilities.
After the Second World War, a number of businessmen were prosecuted for pillaging natural resources, but legally similar commercial practices have always escaped accountability in the modern era. The guidelines and conference sound an end to that history.
Download the manual, Corporate War Crimes: Prosecuting Commercial Actors for Pillaging Natural Resource here: http://www.soros.org/initiatives/justice/focus/anticorruption/articles_publications/publications/pillage-manual-20101025
Learn more about the Conference on Corporate War Crimes:
Prosecuting Pillage of Natural Resources, Oct. 29-30:
Learn more about Prof. Stewart:
Learn more about the Open Society Justice Initiative: