Corporations before International Criminal Courts: Implications for the International Criminal Justice Project

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The debate over whether the International Criminal Court should have jurisdiction over corporations has persisted over the years, despite the failure of the legal persons proposals at Rome. For its part, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon determined that it has jurisdiction over corporations for the purpose of crimes against the administration of the Tribunal, albeit not for the substantive crimes over which it adjudicates. Most recently, the African Union has adopted a Protocol that, should it come into operation, would create a new international criminal law section of the African Court of Justice and Human and People’s Rights with jurisdiction over corporations committing or complicit in serious crimes impacting Africa. In light of the enduring nature of the proposal that international criminal institutions should directly engage with the problem of commercial corporations implicated in atrocity, this article explores the possible implications for the international criminal justice project were its institutions empowered to address corporate defendants and prosecutors emboldened to pursue cases against them. Drawing on the expressive goals of international criminal justice and concepts of sociological legitimacy, as well as insights from Third World Approaches to International Law, the article suggests that corporate prosecutions, where appropriate,may have a redeeming effect upon the esteem in which some constituent audiences hold international criminal law,as a system of global justice. The article’s thesis is then qualified by cautionary thoughts on the redemptive potential of corporate prosecutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-240
Number of pages20
JournalLeiden Journal of International Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • corporations
  • international criminal court
  • legitimacy
  • selectivity
  • Third World Approaches to International Law

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