Complicity - an introduction

Below are select introductory materials on business and complicity in human rights abuses.  Further reports from a wide range of sources are in the "Complicity" section of our site.

Key international standards

Rome Statute of International Criminal Court: part 3, article 25.3(b)-(d)

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: article 3(e)

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: article 4.1

Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others: article 17(4)

International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance: article 6.1

Statute of International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia [PDF]: articles 4.3(e) and 7.1

Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: articles 2.3(e) and 6.1

Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone [PDF]: article 6.1

Law on the Establishment of Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed During the Period of Democratic Kampuchea [PDF]: article 29

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1379 (2001) [PDF]: paragraph 9(c)

Resolution adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2000 [scroll down to Document 3]: paragraph 1(b)

Key reports & guidance

"Complicity - Assessing corporate responsibility for violations committed by political authorities" [PDF], chapter VII (pp. 121-142) of Beyond Voluntarism: Human rights and the developing international legal obligations of companies [full report], Intl. Council on Human Rights Policy, Jan 2002

Report of the Expert Legal Panel on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes, Intl. Commission of Jurists, Sep 2008

Understanding Corporate Complicity: Extending the Notion beyond Existing Laws, Irene Khan, Secretary-General of Amnesty Intl., at Business & Human Rights Seminar, London, 8 Dec 2005

Compliance or Complicity? Human rights and businesses [PDF], Daan Schoemaker, Sustainalytics, July 27, 2009

Complicity in Human Rights Violations: A Responsible Business Approach to Suppliers [PDF], Margaret Jungk, Human Rights & Business Programme, Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2006 

Concerns, company responses & non-responses

The Resource Centre invites companies to respond to allegations of misconduct.  Below are examples of allegations and company responses regarding complicity in human rights abuses.  We also indicate when a company has not responded.

Global: "Fanning the Flames": War on Want report alleges UK mining companies involved in human rights abuses overseas, Dec 2007.  Responses from Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanto, BHP Billiton, Global Coal Management, Moterrico Metals, Oxus Gold, Rio TintoSibuyan Nickel Property Development Corp, Vedanta Resources. No response received from Xstrata.

Global: War on Want report alleges Anglo American "profits from abuse, murders", Aug 2007.  Response from Anglo American.

Argentina: Ledesma accused of complicity with detention, torture & “disappearance” of over 400 people by dictatorship’s security forces in 1976; also accused of recent pollution resulting in illness & death. Aug, Nov 2006.  Response from Ledesma.

Argentina: Kraft faces protests from workers alleging anti-union practices, intimidation and complicity with police violence & detention, Nov 2009.  Response from Kraft.

Argentina: Ford statement regarding legal claims brought by former employees who say they were kidnapped and tortured on Ford Argentina premises during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, Mar 2007.  Response from Ford.

Burma: Burma Campaign UK says firms providing insurance to companies operating in Burma "support dictators", Aug 2008.  Responses from ACE, Al Wasl Insurance Brokers, Lloyd's of London, OCBC Bank, Sompo Japan Insurance.  No response received from Atrium Underwriting, Catlin, Labuan Re, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, Pana Harrison, QBE, Target Insurance Brokers, Tokio Marine.

Burma: Social investors ask whether Toyota can maintain its investments in Burma "without supporting the military regime and its egregious abuses of human rights", Mar 2008.  No response received from Toyota.

Burma: Sir Geoffrey Chandler: "Total's response to criticisms of its presence in Burma is in the worst tradition of corporate irresponsibility", Oct 2007.  No response received from Total.

Burma:Total’s presence in Burma fuelling human rights abuses, says new report – 40 organisations in 18 countries call on Total to quit the country, Feb 2005.  Response from Total.

Burma: Burma Campaign UK adds 30 firms to "Dirty List", Jan 2009.  Responses from Djoser Reisen, Electric Power Development Company (EPDC), OrkideExpressen, Regent Holidays, Shellseekers, SpiceRoads, Studiosus, TUI, UMW Holdings. No responses received from Asiana, China Gezhouba Group Co. (CGGC), China Hydropower Engineering Group Co. (CHECC), China National Electric Equipment Co., Exotissimo, Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank), First Cabin, Gaffney Cline & Associates, Grand Circle Travels, Hunan Savoo Overseas Water & Electric Engineering Co., Kansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO), Kunming Hydroelectric Investigation, Lotus Travel Service, Malcolm Dunstan & Associates (MD&A) British, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, Nobel Oil, Sputnik Petroleum, Wendy Wu Tours, Yunnan Machinery Equipment Import & Export Co. (YMEC), Yunnan Power Grid Co
Chad/Cameroon: Chad-Cameroon pipeline: Amnesty International says governments, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Petronasare "contracting out" of their human rights obligations, Sep 2005.  Responses from Chevron, ExxonMobil, Petronas.

China: Reporters Without Borders & others criticise Yahoo! for providing details to Chinese government that led to journalist Shi Tao’s imprisonment, Sep 2005.  Response from Yahoo!

China: 3 international human rights experts (Mary Robinson, Sir Geoffrey Chandler, Nick Howen) criticise Yahoo!’s response to its involvement in the case of journalist Shi Tao (in which it said only that it “complies with national laws”), Sep 2005.  No response received from Yahoo! 

China: Yahoo! implicated in jailing of a third cyber-dissident, says Reporters Without Borders Apr 2006.  No response received from Yahoo!.

Ghana: NGOs say mining companies have impeded food production, led to serious human rights abuses by the military, Jun 2008.  Responses from AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont. No response received from Golden Star, Redback Mining.

Israel/ Occupied Territories: US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation calls on Motorola to stop providing products used in "Israel's illegal military occupation and human rights violations", Mar 2008.  Response from Motorola.

Sudan: Divest Sudan campaign calls on companies, including ABB, to withdraw from Sudan to avoid complicity in abuses, Apr 2006.  Response from ABB

Sudan: Olympic Dream for Darfur calls on Olympic corporate sponsors to raise Sudan concerns with Chinese Govt., Nov 2007.  Reponses from: adidas, Anheuser-Busch, Atos Origin, Coca-Cola, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Lenovo, McDonald's, Microsoft, Panasonic (part of Matsushita), Samsung, Staples, Swatch, Visa, Volkswagen.  No response from BHP Billiton, Manulife, UPS

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[DOC] Statement by Sir Geoffrey Chandler regarding Total's presence in Burma

Author: Sir Geoffrey Chandler, Founder-Chair, Amnesty International UK Business Group 1991-2001, former Director of Shell International.

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