Home>Global Dialogues in Law: Reflecting on Enrico Basile’s CIVICA Visit to Sciences Po Law School


Global Dialogues in Law: Reflecting on Enrico Basile’s CIVICA Visit to Sciences Po Law School

Michel Sapin, Valentina Lana and Enrico Basile (credits: Sciences Po)

Enrico Basile, Assistant Professor of Criminal Law and White-Collar Crime at Bocconi University, was welcomed by the Sciences Po Law School during the week of 11 March as part of the CIVICA Faculty Short Visit programme.

The purpose of this visit was to enhance the connections and interactions between the two institutions, as well as to facilitate the exchange of ideas on topics of mutual interest.

The coordination of the exchange on the Sciences Po side was overseen by Valentina Lana, an alumna of Sciences Po and a lecturer at the law school. Lana, in collaboration with Michel Sapin, delivers a class on combating corruption.

On the morning of 11 March, Basile gave an introductory lecture on the intersection of business and human rights, addressing law school students, particularly exchange students. This session was also available to the general public. We had a stimulating conversation with Basile on the possible consequences of business activities on human rights, such as the exploitation of workers or the use of violence against trade unionists to prevent strikes. Basile adopted a criminal law perspective to examine the issue, specifically investigating the applicability of International Criminal Law to private organisations, such as corporations.

He attended Lana and Sapin's class in the evening, where they explored the concept of extraterritoriality of the law and its judicial and diplomatic implications. The students endeavoured to comprehend the practical implementation and enforcement of a comprehensive extraterritorial application of the law, as well as the potential ramifications it may entail. Basile actively participated in the debate alongside students, emphasizing the unique challenges faced by law enforcement in instances of cross-border corruption. This was particularly relevant in the context of Italy's experience with alleged bribes paid by multinational corporations operating in the oil and energy sector within African nations.

On 13 March, Sapin chaired a conference organised by the Association des Juristes de Sciences Po. The session was initiated by a student of Lana and Sapin; Basile and Lana delivered presentations and conducted a comparative analysis of the anti-corruption legislative frameworks in Italy and France, respectively. Italy possesses a comprehensive regulatory structure that has been specifically developed to effectively deter and punish instances of corruption. The Italian policymaker has consistently placed a high priority on implementing steps to enhance anti-corruption efforts in recent years. Italian normative legislation combating corruption practices, like those in many other nations, operates at several levels, including punitive, preventative, and administrative actions. In 2016, the Sapin II Act marked France's paradigm shift in the fight against corruption: starting from modest results in the fight against corruption highlighted by the OECD, France set an example by adopting a model based on prevention. In France, an administrative channel runs parallel to the criminal one, with audits and fines for companies that either do not have an anti-corruption programme or have adopted one that does not prove sufficiently robust and effective. France has created an obligation for companies to create a corruption-prevention programme, decorrelated from prosecution, indictment, or conviction for bribery. France has also introduced in its judicial arsenal the Convention Judiciaire d'Interet Public (CJIP), a mechanism similar to the Deferred Prosecution Agreement, in which charges against a legal person are dismissed if the legal person pays a hefty fine and agrees to respect other conditions. Basile and Lana then debated on the absence of a similar instrument within the Italian legal system, emphasising its advantages and disadvantages.

The symposium originally planned for 14 March, with Basile, Lana, and Astrid Mignon Colombet, a French attorney and Sciences Po lecturer, was ultimately cancelled and subsequently rescheduled to 24 April, to be held in a hybrid format. The subject matter under consideration pertains to the intersection of business and human rights, focusing on the Lafarge case. This case constitutes a paradigm of Basile's scholarly work on the intricate dynamics inherent in the relationship between business and human rights. His research seeks to provide insights into the most effective approach to address the detrimental effects that business might have on human rights. The topic is highly pertinent in Europe due to the ongoing negotiations for the content directive on corporate sustainability due diligence. Additionally, France has already implemented a law that has served as a model for the European directive. In 2017, France took the lead by imposing an obligation on companies to prevent and mitigate human rights, environmental, and other violations. The focus of the conference will revolve around the Lafarge case, which pertains to criminal inquiries concerning a renowned French multinational corporation operating in the construction materials sector. The company Lafarge is presently subject to an inquiry in France due to claims of engaging in acts that are considered crimes against humanity. From a criminal law perspective, this analysis will examine two fundamental queries: firstly, the distinctive characteristics of actus reus and mens rea in cases where misconduct occurs within the regular course of business operations, commonly referred to as "neutral acts"; secondly, the proposition of implementing a novel legal structure to tackle human rights infringements facilitated by business activities.

The initiative achieved a high level of success. Basile and Lana express their appreciation to the law school students Laetitia Giannoni, Louis Séguinard, and Ayesha Veerasuntharam for their contributions to Basile's visit. Additionally, they extend their gratitude to the Sciences Po and Bocconi CIVICA teams for their invaluable support.

Impressions from the panellists

I am delighted to have attended the Sciences Po Law School as part of the CIVICA Faculty Visits programme, which provided me with a stimulating experience. The experience has been intellectually fascinating, enhanced by interactive conversations and debates with colleagues and students. I had the opportunity to provide a presentation on my most recent study pertaining to the association between corporate wrongdoing and infringements against human rights, as well as discuss recent legislative revisions concerning the anti-corruption framework in Italy. I am eager to participate in the concluding session that will address the criminal law ramifications of the Lafarge case. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Valentina Lana for the kind reception in Paris, and to Michel Sapin, who presided over one of the sessions I attended during my visit at Sciences Po. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic and engaging conversations we had pertaining to the seminar subjects. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Faculty of the Law School for graciously hosting me, with special recognition to the Executive Director Julie Babin d'Amonville and the Assistant Dean Kyle Schneider for their exceptional hospitality. I am optimistic that this collaborative effort has the potential to foster more intellectually fascinating and productive academic alliances between our respective universities.

Enrico Basile


I was glad that the law school asked me to coordinate and define the academic content of Enrico's visit. My conversation with him started months before March. In 2023, Michel Sapin and I had the pleasure to visit Bocconi University, invited by Enrico, to present the French experience in the fight against corruption, and compare it to what exists in Italy. It was a joy, after months of preparation and intense communication, to finally welcome Enrico and kick-off the weeklong exchange. Michel Sapin and I took full advantage of his time with us and his knowledge, experience and expertise, not to mention his warm presence, acute sense of humour and wit, to open a stimulating debate with our students on the extraterritoriality of the law and to deepen the mutual understanding of France and Italy in their choices on how to fight against corruption. These initiatives are an extremely valuable opportunity not only to build strong relationships and lasting collaboration, but also to strengthen diplomatic dialogue and bilateral cooperation; they are a sign of the importance, strength and vitality of the Quirinal Treaty between France and Italy. CIVICA, which I came to know as part of my dialogue with Enrico, is an attractive and vibrant community building on the conviction that we are stronger and become smarter when we share knowledge and put together our resources. I have met new friends and academic interlocutors in CIVICA and started conversations which - I hope - will lead to more projects. The type of research and knowledge-sharing CIVICA promotes is active and attractive, engaging, practical. A big dream, not an easy one, therefore one worth pursuing. As we look positively at everything, even the cancellation of the 14 March event was taken with a smile, as the way wide open to extend, in a way, Enrico's visit, and to continue the dialogue. The pinnacle of his visit was when he shared that what impressed him most was, of course, the academic quality and the content of the debates, but also, and more importantly, the warmth of the welcome extended to him. That is how - I believe - real knowledge, relevant and applicable to the issues of the time we live in, is built. With a human touch.

Valentina Lana

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