Workshop on ‘Neutral Business Assistance and the Limits of Complicity in International Criminal Law’

with Nikola Hajdin


The Stockholm Centre for International Law and Justice invites you to a workshop seminar with

Nikola Hajdin
Neutral Business Assistance and the Limits of Complicity in International Criminal Law

Across the globe, large multinational corporations regularly carry out commercial transactions with governments and non-state actors suspected of horrific human rights violations. As part of their ordinary business activities, they sell weapons, computers, civil and military vehicles, provide money, intelligence, training, air support, and so on, which are used in the commission of international crimes. These cases raise serious questions in international criminal law, in particular as to whether neutral business assistance may entail complicity. The concept of neutral assistance comes from German criminal law, and it is defined as a conduct inherently non-dangerous that nonetheless contributes to the crime.
In this project, I will first make a conceptual clarification between different types of contribution relevant for complicity, such as neutral, ordinary, specifically directed, and dual use assistance. I will then explore the meaning of contribution in the doctrine of complicity. In order to do so, I will take a theoretical detour and expound on the relevance of causation for aiding and abetting. In the last part, I will propose the minimum level of participation required for complicity in international criminal law and argue that any type of assistance is prohibited as long as it materially furthers the crime. Such an interpretation runs the risk of overcriminalization, especially if we accept the customary mens rea standard according to which knowing (as opposed to purposeful) assistance entails responsibility. To balance this, I will propose an argument of justification that exculpates assisters where the moral ground for the provision of means exceeds the significance of the caused harm.

Dr Nikola R. Hajdin is a Fellow of the Faculty of Law and Christ Church, Oxford University. Nikola is also a Senior Fellow at the Stockholm Centre of International Law and Justice. He holds a PhD degree from Stockholm University, an LLM from Lund University, and an LLM and LLB degrees from the University of Belgrade. In his doctoral thesis, published by Stockholm University in 2021, Nikola developed a theory of criminal responsibility of civil society leaders (industrialists, editors-in-chief of influential media, public intellectuals, etc.) for contributing to a war of aggression. His work has been published in leading international law journals.

The workshop has a hybrid format, either live at the Faculty Room or on Zoom:
No registration needed.