UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development-induced forcible displacement as a crime against humanity of forcible transfer of population under the Rome Statute Rabbi, Nahid


Undertaking public interest development projects by States often entails displacements of inhabitants in project areas. Though undertaken in the name of public interest, such displacements sometimes involve flagrant violations of international human rights norms. Consequently, the displacees face severely adverse consequences that are disproportionate and identical to those in displacements due to conventionally recognized causes, e.g., conflict situations. By demonstrating the extending conceptual domain of crimes against humanity, this thesis argues that such grave development-induced forcible displacements (DIFD) in peacetime may fall within the Rome Statute’s formulation of the crime against humanity of forcible transfer of population. Therefore, the thesis proposes that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may prosecute the perpetrators of grave DIFDs where elements of that crime are satisfied and the concerned State is unwilling or unable to prosecute such a crime, as envisaged in the Rome Statute. Recently, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has expressed its intention to prosecute such crimes under the Rome Statute. The prosecution grave DIFDs in the ICC, as a last resort, is necessary to end the culture of impunity, which is the consequence of a) the ubiquitous sponsorship of these displacements by State actors and consequent unwillingness to prosecute this offence, or b) the lack of national legal mechanisms and consequent inability to prosecute this offence in the national domain. This thesis demonstrates the expanding domain of crimes against humanity through a detailed discussion on its origin and evolution to situate a grave DIFD within the domain of the crime against humanity of forcible transfer of population. Based on that foundation, it further demonstrates that all the elements of this crime under the Rome Statute may be satisfied in a grave DIFD case. Thereby, it argues that prosecution of a grave DIFD as a crime against humanity of forcible transfer of population is theoretically feasible. The thesis’ case study analysis demonstrates that the theoretical feasibility is also underpinned by factual reality. Therefore, the thesis concludes that, to ensure justice, the OTP should deliver on its commitment to prosecuting such crimes, and the international community should collaborate toward that end.

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