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18 October 2019

Individual Criminal Liability for Arms Exports under the ICC Statute: A Case Study of Arms Exports from Europe to Saudi-led Coalition Members Used in the War in Yemen

Linde Bryk and Miriam Saage-MaaƟ | Journal of International Criminal Justice

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Cases against corporate managers for their involvement in international crimes are rare. Still, legal precedent from the Nuremberg trials and more recent cases in national jurisdictions show that corporate officers of arms manufacturing companies may be liable under international criminal law (ICL) when exported arms are used for the commission of war crimes. This article examines the circumstances under which corporate officers responsible for weapons exports can be criminally liable as accomplices to war crimes under Article 25(3)(c) of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

To corroborate its analysis, the authors use the case study of European arms exports to members of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. There is evidence that this coalition has been committing war crimes in Yemen since 2015. Despite factual difficulties and legal complexities such as the mens rea standard of Article 25(3)(c) ICC Statute, the authors argue that corporate officers involved in arms exports may be individually liable, depending on their contribution to the commission of war crimes; their knowledge and awareness of the consequences of the provision of arms due to the abundance of information in the public domain; and the international standards for corporate human rights due diligence that apply to their specific business activities.