Lafarge in Syria: Accusations of complicity in grave human rights violations

Syria – Armed conflict – Lafarge

The Lafarge/Syria case remains a milestone in the fight against impunity for companies doing business in war and conflict regions. In May 2022, the Paris Court of Appeal upheld the charges against the cement group Lafarge (now Holcim) for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity, enforcing the French Supreme Court's September 2021 decision. In October 2023, the French Supreme Court confirmed the charge. Lafarge is the first company in the world to ever face such a charge.However, the court dropped the charge  of endangering the lives of its former Syrian employees, despite the fact that a criminal  investigation revealed that Syrian workers may have been exposed to  hazardous risks, such as death, injury or kidnapping. The court ruled that the safety protections provided by French labor law did not apply to Syrian employees. 


The proceedings against Lafarge and its subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria are the result of a criminal complaint filed in November 2016 by eleven Syrian former employees together with ECCHR and Sherpa.

The complaint accused Lafarge of making arrangements with IS and several other armed groups in order to keep its Jalabiya cement factory plant open and running between 2012 and 2014 in northeastern Syria. The judicial inquiry has since then determined that the financial value of these arrangements amounted to at least 13 million euros.

Lafarge allegedly purchased commodities, such as oil and pozzolan, from IS and paid them fees in exchange for permits. By allegedly providing funding to IS, not only did Lafarge seriously endanger the lives of its employees, but it could also be found to be complicit in crimes against humanity committed by the Islamic State in Syria.


When operating in conflict regions, transnational corporations may fuel armed conflicts and contribute to grave human rights violations.

Since the beginning of the armed conflict in Syria, an extensive war economy has developed in which nearly all conflict parties are involved. This includes trade in weapons, raw materials, and other goods of interest to conflict parties, states, and corporations.

The escalation of violence prompted several transnational corporations, such as Total, to leave the area. Whether in the context of armed conflicts or elsewhere, major corporate actors, such as Lafarge, must ensure that their activities neither fuel war economies, nor contribute to the commission of serious human rights violations.


Unfortunately, this media is unavailable due to your cookie settings. Please visit our Privacy Policy page to adjust your preferences.


Documents (12)

Press (6)


Glossary (4)


War crimes

War crimes are serious breaches of international humanitarian law committed in armed conflict.

Show More

Topics (5)



Here you can find all ongoing and past ECCHR cases in France.

Show More