Prosecuting Corporations for Genocide Under International Law

36 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2012 Last revised: 20 Nov 2012

See all articles by Michael J. Kelly

Michael J. Kelly

Creighton University School of Law; American Bar Association, Business Law Section; American Society of International Law

Date Written: July 23, 2012


The thrust of the 1948 Genocide Convention makes people accountable for committing genocide or complicity in genocide. They should not be able to hide in corporate form, and the treaty does not provide protection for corporations from prosecution. International law provides the theoretical tools for such prosecutions. However, modern international criminal tribunals do not establish jurisdiction over companies for participating in atrocities. As the authoritative interpretive body for the treaty, the International Court of Justice should issue an advisory opinion declaring that corporations are capable of committing genocide and, as such, should be tried for it. This would be a logical extension of the ICJ's recent landmark opinion declaring that states can commit genocide.

Keywords: corporation, genocide, international criminal tribunal, international court of justice, Sudan, China, command responsibility, genocide convention, Nuremberg, I.G. Farben, Nazi war crimes trials, crimes against humanity, jurisdiction, company, juridical person, corporate responsibility, intent

JEL Classification: K14, K22, K33, K41, K42, L21, M14

Suggested Citation

Kelly, Michael J., Prosecuting Corporations for Genocide Under International Law (July 23, 2012). Harvard Law & Policy Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, p. 339, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Michael J. Kelly (Contact Author)

Creighton University School of Law ( email )

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American Bar Association, Business Law Section ( email )

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American Society of International Law

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