Deterring 'Militarized Commerce': The Prospect of Liability for 'Privatized' Human Rights Abuses

42 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2016

See all articles by Craig Forcese

Craig Forcese

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: 2000


A growing number of companies are retaining, or relying on, the services of local militaries to provide protection for their overseas operations. Alternatively, firms have developed relationships with what amount to private, incorporated armies. In some instances, these governmental and nongovernmental units have notorious human rights records. Accordingly, the involvement of companies with rights violating security forces prompts new and interesting questions concerning company liability for the actions of these troops. This article discusses whether Canadian companies engaging in this form of "militarized commerce" expose themselves to criminal prosecution or civil litigation in Canada for abuses committed by security forces overseas. The article concludes that while there are significant obstacles in the path of successful civil litigation and criminal prosecutions, such actions are entirely possible and that Canadian businesses operating internationally should not assume that their international activities are immune to legal scrutiny in this country.

Suggested Citation

Forcese, Craig, Deterring 'Militarized Commerce': The Prospect of Liability for 'Privatized' Human Rights Abuses (2000). Ottawa Law Review, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2000. Available at SSRN:

Craig Forcese (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5


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