The Conflict Awareness Project (CAP) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to investigating, documenting and bringing to justice major arms traffickers, war profiteering networks, and transnational criminal operations that fuel war and conflict around the world.
Our work spans several key issues and supports precedent-setting criminal cases that help close the gaps in international and domestic laws and deter private actors and companies fostering some of the world’s most horrific wars and human rights abuses.
Idjwi Island invesigation, DRC.
Weapons are used to perpetuate crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, yet there is a dearth of prosecutions against complicit arms traffickers and brokers. CAP continues a long-standing goal of ED Kathi Lynn Austin to build momentum for the first war crimes cases against arms traffickers under international criminal law.
The investigation and prosecution of illegal arms traffickers fueling war and violating UN arms embargoes is fundamental to international peace and security and necessary for a safer, more just world. Besides building criminal cases, CAP works towards strengthening domestic and international laws and controls.
Pillage & Natural Resource Exploitation
Companies trafficking in conflict resources such as gold, endangered species, diamonds, timber, and precious minerals have seldom been held accountable for natural resource exploitation fueling war and violence. This illicit trade often provides the funds enabling arms purchases, military troop support and child soldiers. CAP is working on precedent-setting cases to prosecute businesses for the war crime of pillage (conflict-related theft).
Just as arms smuggler Viktor Bout is on trial in the U.S. for material support to a terrorist organization, traffickers are key to terrorist operations and often highjack arms pipelines as a source of funding. Targeting the suppliers of terrorist groups and disrupting their logistical support is one way CAP contributes to a reduction in local and global violence.
The arms trade accounts for a vast percentage of corruption in global trade and often is hidden behind the veil of national security; likewise natural resource exploitation and war profiteering. CAP works on cases involving theft of public assets, fraud, and money laundering in conflict areas.
Seeking to redress impunity, CAP works to secure legal remedies for organized criminal networks that undermine the rule of law in war-torn countries and that facilitate war crimes, gross human rights abuses, and natural resource exploitation. These criminal networks often are based outside the affected areas and require transnational investigations to hold them accountable.
The Pillage of Eastern Congo Gold: A Case for the Prosecution of Corporate War Crimes
A CAP Briefing Report by Kathi Lynn Austin
Joint CAP / TRIAL press conference, 2013.
This report highlights the results of CAP Executive Director Kathi Lynn Austin’s nine-year international investigation of an unlawful conflict gold enterprise originating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Foreign companies have taken advantage of armed conflict to make millions of dollars in illegal profit, while perversely incentivizing war and widespread atrocities.
The trail covers each step of the “blood gold” supply chain: the illegal mining by a rebel group, the smuggling across DRC’s border into neighboring Uganda, the re-export of the gold ore by a Ugandan trader to refineries in South Africa, Switzerland, and United Arab Emirates, the laundering of the refined gold through international banks — and the way this illegal trade was orchestrated by two British firms as the ultimate beneficiaries.
To break the impunity, this report calls for the prosecution of these corporate profiteers for the war crime of pillage by those countries with appropriate jurisdiction. A precedent-setting conviction would reestablish pillage as a war crime and deter others from exploiting natural resources in the DRC and engaging in pillage in other war zones around the world.
CAP’s investigation was supported by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) as part of its anti-corruption work and efforts to revive pillage as a war crime.
Note: On 4 November 2013, the Prosecutor General of Switzerland opened an investigation of the Swiss refining giant Argor-Heraeus SA, for money laundering and complicity in the war crime of pillage. This followed the filing of a denunciation by the Swiss NGO TRIAL (Track Impunity Always).
Exposing Viktor Bout's Gunrunning Successors
A CAP Briefing Report by Kathi Lynn Austin
Bout plane used in DRC trafficking operation.
This original CAP investigation busts open a major arms trafficking operation targeting Sudan, Congo and Syria. The CAP report, “Viktor Bout’s Gunrunning Successors: A Lethal Game of Catch Me if You Can” details a global illicit ring involving entities and individuals in the US, UK, Finland, Mauritius, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Iran.
Kathi Lynn Austin
The New York Times
6 December 2011
14 March 2013
Douglas Farah and Kathi Austin
The New Republic
23 January 2006
Brown Journal of World Affairs
Kathi Austin and Jason Felch
The Washington Post
3 March 2002
The Conflict Awareness Project (CAP) is an international non-profit dedicated to investigating, documenting, and bringing to justice major arms traffickers, war profiteering networks, and transnational criminal operations that fuel war and conflict around the globe.