Criminal Law Forum

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 225–254 | Cite as

Distinguishing Types of ‘Economic Abuses’: A Three-Dimensional Model

  • Evelyne Schmid


Is international criminal law adequate in respect of ‘economic abuses’ such as corporate complicity in human rights abuses or harm arising through the exploitation of resources from conflict-affected areas? Attempts to assess the adequacy of international criminal law to deal with ‘economic abuses’ have given rise to a complex and multi-layered debate. Authors have analysed a range of different phenomena, making it challenging to generalise conclusions on the suitability of existing international criminal law. Against this background, it is crucial to distinguish different types of ‘economic abuses’ if we are to assess the adequacy of international criminal law to address them. To do so, I propose a three-dimensional model to disentangle the various categories of ‘economic abuses’. Depending on whether the actor, the harmful activity, and the affected legal interests are economic or non-economic, legally distinct types of ‘economic abuses’ can be discerned. Through exploring three specific constellations, the article demonstrates that the adequacy of international criminal law varies significantly for the various types of ‘economic abuses’. The model aims to serve as an analytical entry point to distinguish the nature and extent of the legal challenges in a factual scenario and contributes to the elaboration of nuanced and meaningful conclusions on the relative adequacy of international criminal law in relation to ‘economic abuses’.


Legal Person Rome Statute International Crime Trial Chamber Abusive Conduct 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public LawUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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