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20 January 2020

Complicity in War Crimes through (Legal) Arms Supplies?

Kai Ambos | EJIL:Talk!

Read the blog post here

This blog post considers whether criminal complicity under international law is possible when exports are licenced by national authorities, in light of the communication to the OTP and with a particular focus on the German system. It considers the relevance of corporations’ human-rights based due diligence obligations to the question before the OTP.

In turn, the author considers the case where a corporation has exported weapons with the authorisation of the national licensing authorities but to a destination where there are clearly war crimes occurring, as in Yemen, and whether this can be seen as an autonomous criminal act of complicity by the corporation that makes it a criminal accomplice in the commission of war crimes. In particular, it discusses the impact of a conclusion that companies need to fulfil due diligence obligations independent of any national authorisation procedure.