Business and the international criminal justice: the evolution of their relationship

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Author: Aleksandr Evseev

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2022-3-96-116

Keywords: Nuremberg Trial 1945–1946; small (subsequent) Nuremberg trials 1946–1949; international criminal justice; criminal liability of businessmen under international law; social responsibility of business; corporate criminal liability


The article addresses the international criminal liability of businesses. It is considered in two aspects: the individual liability of businessmen acting in their personal capacity and the liability of corporate entities created by private law. The author analyzes this issue in historical terms, starting his research from the end of the Second World War and ending with the latest cases adjudicated by internationalized (hybrid) courts. He concludes that, in general, businessmen rarely appear as defendants in international criminal justice bodies and corporations almost never do. The emerging trend of limiting the prosecution of international crimes exclusively to those committed by military and political leaders to the detriment of the persecution of business representatives undoubtedly reduces the effectiveness and humanistic potential of international criminal courts and tribunals. In general, the article asserts the need for a more flexible approach to the international criminal liability of big business. In this regard, the appeal “Back to Nuremberg!”, which is advanced by some Russian legal scholars, seems promising. The article emphasizes that the international community, at the stage of preparing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, narrowed the possibility of applying international criminal law to business structures by refusing to provide for the criminal responsibility of legal entities. Thus a business person can appear in the dock in the Hague only in his personal capacity. The author comes to the conclusion that despite the relatively small number of criminal cases related to the commission of international crimes by representatives of big business, these crimes are increasingly a concern of law enforcement. A kind of surrogate for bringing these businesses to legal responsibility is the imposition of personal and corporate sanctions that do not require preliminary investigation and the establishment of relevant legal facts (such as cooperation with criminal regimes), are imposed by decisions of political authorities, and are subject to challenge in national and international courts.

About the author: Aleksandr Evseev – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Evseev A. (2022) Biznes i mezhdunarodnoe ugolovnoe pravosudie: evolyutsiya vzaimootnosheniy [Business and the international criminal justice: the evolution of their relationship]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 96–116. (In Russian).


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