13 April 2012
Dutch Supreme Court affirms absolute immunity UN
Today, the Dutch Supreme Court affirmed the Hague Court of Appeal’s decision that it does not have jurisdiction to deal with the claim of the Mothers of Srebrenica against the United Nations. The Mothers of Srebrenica instigated proceedings before Dutch courts against both the Netherlands and the United Nations, claiming they had failed to prevent the genocide in Srebrenica.
The plaintiff’s submission that UN immunity should be set aside in order to ensure the right to a fair trial in Article 6 ECHR was rejected. The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal erred in relying on the criteria in the ECtHR cases Beer and Regan and Waite and Kennedy in order to evaluate whether UN immunity should be set aside for the right to a fair trial. The Supreme Court held that the immunity of the United Nations is absolute, and that obligations under the UN Charter should prevail over obligations arising from other international agreements according to Article 103 UN Charter. In this context, the Supreme Court followed the ECtHR’s decision in Behrami and Saramati.
The plaintiff’s submission that in case of breaches of peremptory norms the UN is not entitled to immunity was also rejected. In order to support its decision that rules of ius cogens do not set aside rules on immunity, the Supreme Court referred to the ICJ’s recent judgment in the case Germany v. Italy.
The Mothers’ claim against the Netherlands is yet to be considered in first instance.