, University of Oslo
and Fafo Research FoundationMazen Darwish
, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Speech
In December 2017, six former senior directors of world's leading supplier for cement and construction materials, Lafarge (now Lafarge-Holcim), and its subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria, were indicted by French judges. This was the result of a criminal complaint
filed by Paris-based NGO Sherpa
and the ECCHR in November 2016. Lafarge kept running its cement factory plant in northeast Syria until 2014 despite the region being conflict-ridden and controlled by various armed and terrorist groups.
The complaint, which was filed on behalf of 11 former Syrian Lafarge employees, argued that by doing business with the terrorist group ISIS – which Lafarge has by now acknowledged – the company may therefore be complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity, and of having endangered the plaintiffs’ lives. Since the heavily-evidenced case was filed: plaintiffs were heard, Lafarge’s headquarters were raided, and its directors indicted.
At ECCHR, speakers will discuss how multinational companies, driven by economic interests, can fuel conflicts and engage in serious human rights violations. They will explore the importance of legal accountability of all actors involved in war crimes in Syria as a prerequisite for peace and stability in the region. The Lafarge case can be a game changer in a field desperate for precedents establishing corporate responsibility for international crimes.