Shared Responsibility in North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led Operations

Marten Zwanenburg

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


Shared Responsibility in Coalitions of the Willing

Matteo Tondini

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


Shared Responsibility in the Framework of the European Union’s Common Security Defense Policy Operations

Frederik Naert

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


The Practice of Shared Responsibility of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations for Harmful Outcomes

Ray Murphy and Siobhan Wills

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


The Practice of Shared Responsibility in relation to Occupation

Enrico Milano

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


The Practice of Shared Responsibility in relation to Private Military Contractors

Chia Lehnardt

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


Shared Responsibility Issues Arising in the Arms Control Law Area

Daniel Joyner

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


Shared Responsibility for African Union Operations

Ademola Abass

This chapter is forthcoming in the third edited volume of the SHARES book series: André Nollkaemper and Ilias Plakokefalos (eds.), The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


Things Could Only Get Better: Al-Jedda Beyond Behrami

Francesco Messineo

In July 2011, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held in Al-Jedda v. United Kingdom (link) that the UK was responsible for the misconduct of its troops deployed as part of the UN-authorized Multinational Force in … Read more


Expert Seminar Report – Responsibility in Multinational Military Operations: a Review of Recent Practice

The report summarizes the presentations and following discussions from the Expert Seminar on Responsibility in Multinational Military Operations held in Amsterdam in December 2010. At this meeting, experts discussed the practice of four international organizations engaging in multinational military operations: … Read more


Dual attribution: liability of the Netherlands for conduct of Dutchbat in Srebrenica

André Nollkaemper

On 5 July 2011 the Court of Appeal of The Hague held that the state of the Netherlands had acted unlawfully and is liable, under Dutch law, for evicting four Bosnian nationals from the compound of Dutchbat in Srebrenica on … Read more


12 April 2013

SHARES Seminar: Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Military Operations

This SHARES Seminar will discuss papers reviewing the practice of shared responsibility related to international military operations.

This Seminar is organised in cooperation with the Swedish National Defence College and will be held in Stockholm. (more…)

16 December 2010

Expert Seminar: Responsibility in Multinational Military Operations

The SHARES Project held a one-day Expert Seminar in Amsterdam on 16 December 2010 devoted to the topic of Responsibility in Multinational Military Operations, with a specific focus on practice. The seminar was organized in cooperation with the International Law Centre of the Swedish National Defence College as a follow up to a previous seminar organized in Stockholm in October 2009.

The seminar was part of the Expert Seminar Series launched by SHARES to uncover the practice in diverse areas. The seminar on allocation of responsibility in the context of multinational military operations was the first of these seminars, later followed by seminars on protection of refugees and international environmental law.

This Expert Seminar examined the practice of four international organizations engaging in multinational military operations: the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union, and the African Union.

You can find a Report of the Expert Seminar here.


19 July 2014

Dutch Court holds the Netherlands responsible for 300 Srebrenica deaths, and sets limits to future claims

UNPROFOR Dutchbat headquarters in Potočari

On 16 July 2014, the District Court of The Hague issued a decision holding the Dutch State responsible with regards to the death of about 300 men, who were killed following their eviction from a compound near Srebrenica where Dutch peacekeepers of UNPROFOR (Dutchbat) were stationed before evacuating it in July 1995. (more…)

8 May 2014

Responsibility of the UK for detentions in Afghanistan: questions of attribution of conduct

In a decision of 2 May 2014, the British High Court of Justice held that the United Kingdom (UK) was responsible for the continued detention of an individual in Afghanistan, in violation of human rights law. The decision has already been commented on, notably here, here and here, focusing on the affirmation by the Court that the UK’s international human rights obligations applied to the non-international armed conflict in Afghanistan. This post will briefly address another important aspect of the decision, that of attribution of conduct.

The case was brought by Serdar Mohammed, an Afghan national who had been captured by British forces part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in April 2010 on the suspicion of being a member of the Taliban. He remained detained without charges until July 2010, when he was transferred to Afghan authorities. He claimed compensation from the UK for a breach of his right to liberty under Article 5 ECHR.

Apart from finding that the detention was in breach of applicable human rights obligations, the Court engaged in a relatively extensive discussion of whether the disputed conduct was to be attributed to the UK (paras 158–187, pp 47–55), thereby adding a new stone to the debate on allocation of responsibility in international military operations. (more…)

7 September 2013

Responsibility of the Netherlands for the conduct of Dutchbat: overview of the Supreme Court decision

On 6 September 2013, the Dutch Supreme Court confirmed that the Netherlands was responsible in relation to the death of three Bosnians in Srebrenica. Finding no ground for cassation, it upheld the 2011 decisions of the Court of Appeal of The Hague, concluding the last stage of proceedings in the important cases of Nuhanović and Mustafić. These cases are remarkable in that a remedy is finally provided to some victims, but also because they comport a number of important findings for the debate on the shared responsibility of States and international organizations for the conduct of peacekeepers. Notably, the Supreme Court unequivocally recognizes the possibility of multiple attribution, notably under the test of effective control (para 3.11.2). (more…)

2 September 2013

Intervention in Syria and International Law: Inside or Out?

Cross posted on Opinio Juris

States that have decided to potentially engage in military strikes against Syria, or to support such strikes, face a difficult choice between two options: do they operate outside the international legal framework when they act, or do they use the strikes as part of an attempt to reconstruct the law on the use of force?

There is no doubt that in the present situation, military strikes against Syria would be in violation of international law as it has been understood since 1945. In situations as we face now, in the absence of a Security Council mandate, international law allows no unilateral use of force. Building a coalition outside the United Nations does not help. Qualifying strikes as punishment does not help either. (more…)

26 January 2013

Responsibility for peace, and responsibility in war: on the military operation in Mali

It has been almost two weeks since France began a military intervention to help the Malian army fight Islamist groups controlling the north of the country. The operation — code-named ‘Serval’ — was sparked by the ‘serious deterioration of the situation’ in Mali, after successful offensives by extremists who managed to take over the city of Konna, ‘a frontier town that had been the de facto line of government control’. The action of France, coming about after months of lengthy negotiations attempting to resolve the crisis in Mali, has been overall welcomed by the international community, and reportedly relatively successful in pushing back Islamists. In terms of international law, the military operation raises a number of issues, two aspects of which this blog post will address: the responsibility for maintaining peace, and the responsibility during the conduct of war. (more…)

25 September 2012

Providing weapons to Syria: a situation of shared responsibility?

The continuing conflict in Syria has raised many questions of shared responsibility (see, for example, here and here). This blog post will discuss the issue of the provision of weapons and other military equipment to Syria.

In June this year, Human Rights Watch urged governments and companies around the world to stop signing new contracts (and evaluate existing contracts) with arms suppliers that are providing weapons to the Syrian government, such as the Russian firm Rosoboronexport, and suggested that those providing weapons to the Syrian regime could be regarded as being complicit in the crimes committed by the Syrian army. (more…)

12 March 2012

The Responsibility to Protect: Why Libya but not Syria? – Panel Discussion and Book Launch

On the 8 March, the book “The Responsibility to Protect: From Principle to Practice” was launched at Spui25 in the center of Amsterdam. The launch could not have been more timely in light of the continuing reports of atrocities being committed in Syria and the discussions surrounding the inaction of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Appropriately so, the topic for discussion was: Why Libya but not Syria? The panel consisted of Prof. André Nollkaemper, Prof. Ko Colijn and Frank Majoor and was moderated by Juurd Eijsvoogel.


16 February 2012

On Human Shields: Balancing the Responsibilities of Attackers and Defenders?

Professor Yoram Dinstein, a leading authority in international humanitarian law, has been making a whirlwind tour of the Netherlands, giving lectures on various legal issues pertaining to war and peace. One of those lectures featured the topic of human shields. Human shielding involves the use of persons protected by international humanitarian law, such as civilians, to deter attacks on combatants and military objectives.


15 December 2011

Obligations of the UK in respect of a Pakistani national detained by the US in Afghanistan

At Lawfare, Robert Chesney notes an decision of the UK Court of Appeals (Civil Division) of 14 December that raises interesting questions of shared responsibility. The case is Yunus Ramhmatullah v. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs et ano. The Court, by an opinion of the Master of the Rolls, held that a Pakistani man (Yunus Rahmatullah) held by the US military in Afghanistan may pursue a habeas corpus petition against the UK’s Secretary of State for Defence and for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. (more…)

8 July 2011

Dual attribution: liability of the Netherlands for removal of individuals from the compound of Dutchbat

On 5 July 2011, the Court of Appeal of the Hague decided that the State of the Netherlands had acted unlawfully and is liable for evicting Bosnian nationals from the compound of Dutchbat in Srebrenica on 12 July 1995. Ibro Nuhanovic, Muhamed  Nuhanovic, Nasiha Nuhanovic and Rizo Mustafic were subsequently killed by Bosnian Serbs, as part of what the ICTY and the ICJ later found to be acts of genocide.

The decision adds another chapter to the tortuous attempt of the Netherlands to cope with its multiple failures, with dramatic consequences, in its policies and decisions regarding the conduct of Dutch peacekeeping troops in Srebrenica in 1995, In 2002, the Government of then prime minister Wim Kok resigned after a report held it partly to blame for the failure to offer protection in Srebenica. At the time, Kok said that he accepted political, but no legal responsibility. Almost ten years later, the Court of Appeal has made clear that the responsibility is not only political, but that the Dutch policy in regard of Srebrenica also has engaged its legal liability. (more…)

1 June 2011

What Responsibility for States Participating to a Lesser Extent to the NATO Operation in Libya?

As usually for international military operations led by an international organization, States participating in the NATO-led Operation Unified Protector placed their military contingents under the operational command of NATO.  However the Rules of Engagement – which define the conditions under which members of a national contingent can engage force – may differ amongst participating States.

The Netherlands, for instance, decided to send planes to Libya but limited their mission to providing support in enforcing the UNSC Resolution, while forbidding them to participate in ground bombings.  In military terms, the Dutch forces can provide surveillance, intelligence or air-to-air refuelling, but they do not engage in air-to-ground missions. This limited engagement probably stems from a will of limiting the Dutch responsibility in case of a wrongful act of the coalition. However, one can wonder to what extent the Netherlands could be held liable for the injuries resulting of wrongful acts of the Operation Unified Protector. (more…)

11 April 2011

Ivory Coast and Shared Responsibility: Is Everybody Responsible?

Cross-posted on Spreading the Jam

Ivory Coast is quickly becoming a political nightmare. Indeed, with the evidence of crimes being committed by Gbagbo forces, as well as by Ouattara’s supporters, the international community is faced with a dilemna: if it turns out that Ouattara is indeed condoning such actions, how can he be supported by the world community, if it is to be consistent with calls for removal of other leaders who have alledgedly been involved in such situations, such as Khadafi in Libya? The result of such consistency would however be a political vaccum that might create more chaos in the country.

Beyond this political dimension, the situation raises interesting issues of Shared Responsibility. In her previous post, Bérénice considered the Shared Responsibility of France and the UN in Ivory Coast. One issue that needs to be considered in addition to that is the question of the responsibility for the crimes being committed on the ground, by both sides, which is even more complex.


10 April 2011

An “unlikely scenario” that occurred in Ivory Coast… And a case for shared responsibility between the UN and France

In follow-up to Security Council Resolution 1975, and in response to recent attacks against civilians and the United Nations mission, the international forces in Ivory Coast recently launched operations against the Gbagbo camp. The “unusually robust” reaction seems to have been triggered by the attacks by the armed forces loyal to Gbagbo directed against the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) Headquarters. The impartiality of a UN operation directly targeting Gbagbo has been quickly questioned, but it can easily be shown that “the fact that Gbagbo’s troops attacked the UN justifies the punishing response”. These events prompt two questions of international law. (more…)

22 March 2011

The first days of the implementation of Resolution 1973: an unclear coalition and unclear responsibilities

In international military operations, the determination of international responsibilities for the wrongful acts committed during operations depends on cooperation settings, and notably on arrangements regarding command and control over the troops. Regarding those terms, the operation undertaken in implementation of UNSC Resolution 1973 is conspicuously unclear. (more…)

8 March 2011

Apologies are not enough: on the practical importance of implementing international responsibility

The accidental killing of nine Afghan children by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the beginning of March led to apologies by the ISAF commander General Petraeus. Those excuses were rejected by President Karzai as insufficient. It is indeed expected that in case of military acts breaching international law, the ISAF should provide financial compensation for the injuries caused, not only satisfaction in the form of official apologies. (more…)


6 March 2017

Publication third edited volume (The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law) and discount

We are very happy to announce that the third edited volume of the SHARES book series entitled The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law has been published.

More information concerning the book can be found here. The book is available for purchase via CUP. By using this Flyer, you can get a 20% discount (this offer expires 31 January 2018)!

Source: CUP | The Practice of Shared Responsibility in International Law

5 November 2013

The Netherlands decides to contribute to peacekeeping mission in Mali

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the decision of the government of the Netherlands to make a ‘major contribution’ to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) by supplying personnel and equipment. The Netherlands committed four armed helicopters, other critical assets, and circa 380 military, police and civilian personnel.

In April 2013, the Security Council approved a 12,600-strong MINUSMA, authorising the blue helmets ‘to use all necessary means’ to carry out security-related stabilisation tasks, protect civilians, UN staff and cultural artifacts and create the conditions for provision of humanitarian aid. MINUSMA’s core task is to support the political process in Mali, in close coordination with the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union.

Ban Ki-moon reiterated his call to member states for further assistance to the MINUSMA.

Source: United Nations | Secretary-General | Ban Ki-moon | Latest Statements | New York, 1 November 2013 - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on MINUSMA

29 March 2013

UNSC authorizes offensive force to target rebels in DRC

Security Council votes to authorize the deployment of an intervention force to target armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). © UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

By its Resolution 2098 (28 March 2013), the UN Security Council (UNSC) authorized the deployment of an ‘Intervention Brigade’ within the current UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). This intervention force – placed under the operational command of the MONUSCO Force Commander – will undertake targeted operations to ‘neutralize and disarm’ rebel groups in DR Congo. It is the ‘first-ever “offensive” combat force’ established under UN command.

Source: UN News Center | Security Council approves intervention force to target armed groups in DR Congo
Source: UN Press Release | ‘Intervention Brigade’ Authorized as Security Council Grants Mandate Renewal for United Nations Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo

28 March 2013

Joint Nato-Afghan operation kills 20 ‘Afghan fighters’

Afghan and NATO military officials have reported they have killed more than 20 armed fighters in a joint operation in the east of Afghanistan. The operation in the eastern province of Logar rescued two captured Afghan soldiers.

Source: Al Jazeera | Joint operation kills Afghan fighters

11 March 2013

Joint military exercises by US and South Korea

The United States (US) and South Korea have begun their annual joint military drills. The US-South Korea joint drills, which are known as ‘Key Resolve’ involve more than 13,000 troops and last two weeks. Another joint exercise, known as ‘Foal Eagle’, is happening since the beginning of March. Both exercises take place every year, usually prompting strong reactions from North Korea.

Source: BBC | US-South Korea drills begin amid North Korea tensions

11 March 2013

Chad troops join AFISMA in Mali

The 2.000-strong contingent of Chad, which has played a leading part in the fight against jihadist militants in Mali, officially joined the regional African force that is deployed there on 9 March. The Chadian forces were not initially placed under AFISMA’s operational command.

Source: Global Post | Chad joins African force in Mali

19 February 2013

Karzai to Forbid Afghan Forces From Requesting Foreign Airstrikes

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that he would forbid his military forces from requesting American or NATO forces to conduct airstrikes. The announcement follows a joint Afghan-NATO attack last week in the Kunar Province (in eastern Afghanistan), that killed ten civilians. The airstrike was reportedly requested by the Afghan National Directorate of Security.

Source: The New York Times | Karzai to Forbid Afghan Forces From Requesting Foreign Airstrikes

18 February 2013

Plans for French counterterrorism operation in Mali, next to UN peace keeping force

The New York Times reports that there is a likely role for French counterterrorism forces in tracking down militants in Mali, also after the French troops will be replaced by a United Nations peacekeeping force. A State Department official of the United States stated that ‘there’s going to be an ongoing need for a counterterrorism operation in northern Mali, and that probably will always reside in the hands of the French and not in the hands of the United Nations.’

Source: The New York Times | Official Details French Role in Mali

7 February 2013

France seeks UN-led peacekeeping mission for Mali

French Foreign Minister said on Wednesday that France wanted a United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali by April, incorporating troops offered by West African nations. At the UN, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous confirmed that a UN-led mission looks increasingly likely rather than an African-led force. The UN force would need the approval of the Malian government, which has expressed doubts.

Source: France 24 | France calls for Mali handover to UN troops
Source: UN News Centre | UN peacekeeping mission in Mali increasingly possible, says top official

24 January 2013

US Planes Transport French Troops into Mali

United States (US) military aircrafts were used in order to transport more than 80 French troops and 124 tonnes of equipment into Mali.

The US examines a request for aerial refuelling support, made by the French.

Source: The Huffington Post | Mali Intervention: U.S. Planes Arrive In Mali

17 January 2013

AU Troops Killed 7 Civilians in Somalia

The New York Times reports that African Union (AU) troops mistakenly opened fire on a religious school while pursuing militants, killing five children and two adults. The troops are part of the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM). The Acting Force Commander states that it was investigated whether rules pertaining to AMISOM’s responsibility to minimize civilian casualties during its operations had been breached.

Source: The New York Times | Somali Official: AU Troops Killed 7 Civilians

15 January 2013

Military intervention in Mali to help Government fight Islamists

Following a call for help by the Malian government after offensives by Islamists groups in northern Mali, France started engaging in air-strikes on 11 January 2013.

The operations are carried out in support of the Malian army, while the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (authorized by UNSC Resolution 2085) has been slow moving.

Other States have announced they were ready to provide some logistical support (e.g. assistance in the transport of troops and materials). At the same time, ECOWAS announced it will also deploying a number of troops in the area.

The French President stated that the intervention was agreed upon with the interim President of Mali and hence was in compliance with international law.


Source: BBC | French troops continue operation against Mali Islamists
Source: The New York Times | France Battling Islamists in Mali
Source: The Wall Street Journal | French Join Africa Battle With Islamist Rebels
Source: France24 | France seeks allies in Mali operation

13 January 2013

United States to accelerate withdrawal from Afghanistan, but troops will be left behind

On 11 January 2013, President Barack Obama, after meeting with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, said that the United States (US) would accelerate the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in the coming months, because of gains made by Afghan security forces.

After the NATO combat mission will end in 2014, the mission would be focused on advising and supporting Afghan troops, and targeting the remnants of Al Qaeda. Mr. Karzai said the United States had agreed to turn over control of the prisons that house terrorism suspects to Afghan control. He also said he would push for legal immunity for US soldiers – which is a requirement for the US to leave troops behind in Afghanistan.

Source: The New York Times | Obama Accelerates Transition of Security to Afghans

12 January 2013

Lessons from Afghanistan need to be applied before thinking about Canada’s involvement in mission in Mali

In an op-ed in The Globe and Mail, David Bercuson, a research fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, argues that in contemplating a future role in Mali, ‘Canada should insist on full disclosure from its military allies on what operational and strategic plans they’re making and should have a say in shaping those plans. Whether Canada sends 10 people or 500, all those Canadians are Ottawa’s responsibility and all need to be protected against their misuse by our allies or against poor strategic decision-making.’

Source: The Globe and Mail | Another mission? First, apply lessons from Afghanistan

15 November 2012

EUFOR Althea mandate renewed

On 14 November, the UN Security Council unanimously renewed the mandate of the European peacekeepers in Bosnia and Herzegovina for one more year in its Resolution 2074.

EUFOR Althea took over peace operations in Bosnia from NATO’s SFOR in 2004. It is one of the three ongoing military operations deployed by the EU in the framework of its Security and Defense Policy.

Source: UN News Centre | Security Council extends mandate of European peacekeepers in Bosnia for another year

7 November 2012

Plans for military intervention in Mali

On 12 October, the United Nations Security Council (UN SC) adopted a resolution, determining that the situation in Mali ‘constitutes a threat to international peace and security’. The UN SC declared its ‘readiness’ to send an international military force to assist the Malian armed forced to drive Islamists out of the north of Mali. After a coup in March 2012, much of the country is occupied and controlled by Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda. The authorities of Mali and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were given a 45 day deadline to formulate a plan for military action led by ECOWAS. The European Union considers assisting ECOWAS with military planning and logistics and sending about 200 troops to train Mali’s army to retake the north of Mali.

Source: Reuters | EU considers sending 200 troops to train Mali army
Source: The Guardian | France to send drones to Mali in fight against al-Qaida-backed insurgents
Source: The Guardian | North Mali prepares for war as refugees dream of liberation from al-Qaida
Source: The Guardian | Islamist rebels vow assault on Malian capital if international forces attack

17 October 2012

Rising Tension Between Syria and Turkey

Recent events have increased the tension between Syria and Turkey. More than a week ago, Turkey retaliated after Syria shelled a Turkish border town and killed five Turkish civilians. Days later, the Turkish parliament approved a motion allowing for military action against Syria in case it proves to be necessary. Last week, Turkish jets forced a Syrian airplane on its way from Moscow to land. Turkey claims to have found Russian munition on board this airplane. Saturday, Syria announced a ban on all Turkish aircraft entering its airspace. Yesterday, Turkey followed suit with a similar ban of Syrian aircraft in its airspace.

Source: New York Times | As Tension Escalates, Turkey Issues a Ban on All Syrian Aircraft
Source: BBC | Underlying tensions in Turkey-Syria stand-off

27 June 2012

The Netherlands to appeal judgments on their responsibility for three death in Srebrenica

On 26 June 2012, the State of the Netherlands announced it will appeal the decisions of The Hague Court of Appeal of 5 July 2011 in the cases of Mustafić and Nuhanović (LJN: BR5386 and  BR5388).

In July 2011, the Court of Appeal of The Hague held the Dutch State responsible for the death of three Bosnian-Muslim men, who were killed by Bosnian-Serb troops after having being sent away from UNPROFOR facilities in Srebrenica. (more…)

Source: | Dutch state to appeal against Srebrenica liability ruling
Source: NRC | Staat in cassatie tegen uitspraak Srebrenica-zaak

21 June 2012

U.S. Reported to Assist Neighbouring States in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition

A group of C.I.A. officers in the south of Turkey is reported to assist allies of the Syrian opposition in deciding which opposition fighters will receive arms from neighbouring states. These arms are reportedly paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Furthermore, the C.I.A. is said to share intelligence information with the Syrian opposition.

Source: New York Times | C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition

13 June 2012

US accuses Russia of delivering attack helicopters to Syria

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of providing the Syrian government with attack helicoptors. The accusations coincide with the UN’s characterization of the armed conflict in Syria as civil war.

Source: New York Times | Heavier Weapons Push Syrian Crisis Toward Civil War
Source: The Guardian | Syria: US accuses Russia of sending attack helicopters

27 May 2012

NATO summit decided on plan to withdraw from Afghanistan

Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) agreed at the recent summit in Chicago on the security transition for Afghanistan, starting in 2013.

President Obama stated at the summit that NATO member states are ‘unified behind a plan to responsibly wind down the war in Afghanistan’. The plan of withdrawing 130.000 NATO troops by 2014 is ‘irreversible’. He however also stated that Afghanistan will not be abandoned, at least some troops will stay after 2014.

France will withdraw its combat troops from Afghanistan already at the end of this year.

Source: New York Times | NATO Agrees on Afghan Security Transition in 2013

21 May 2012

Russia wants ICC to examine NATO bombings in Libya

In the lead-up to the 2012 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Russian Foreign Ministry has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to look into all cases of NATO airstrikes in Libya that resulted in civilian deaths.

“We welcome the decision of ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to consider alleged violations of international humanitarian law,” Foreign Ministry human rights spokesman Konstantin Dolgov said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website. “We presume that the ICC will consider all cases of NATO bombing that caused civilian casualties … An impartial international investigation into the effects of NATO airstrikes during Operation United Defender in Libya is necessary to prevent such tragedies in the future,” the statement continued.

NATO carried out airstrikes last year under UN Security Council resolution 1970, which was passed to protect Libyan civilians from the retaliation by the Gaddafi regime.

Source: UPI | Russia wants ICC to examine NATO bombings
Source: RAPSI | Russia calls on ICC to consider NATO air campaign in Libya

16 April 2012

NATO report identifies Flaws in Air Campaign Against Libya

A confidential NATO assessment concluded that the NATO allies struggled to share crucial target information, lacked specialized planners and analysts, and overly relied on the United States for reconnaissance and refueling aircraft.

Source: New York Times | NATO Sees Flaws in Air Campaign Against Qaddafi

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.

Source: Washington Post | Dutch court rules United Nations has immunity in Srebrenica massacre case

10 April 2012

Belgium arms in Arab uprising

In a special report entitled ‘Profit and Proliferation’ (Part I and II) in the New York Times’ At War blog, Belgium journalist Damien Spleeters reports how Belgium arms entered and were used during the conflict in Libya, and discusses the question ‘how much responsibility Belgium and other European countries may share in weapons proliferation in the region’.

Source: New York Times | Profit and Proliferation: A Special Report on Belgian Arms in the Arab Uprising, Part I
Source: New York Times | Profit and Proliferation, Part 2: Will Belgian Arms End Up in Syria?

10 April 2012

Agreement Afghanistan – US on control over night raid operations

On 8 April 2012, Afghanistan and the United States concluded an agreement under which the US hands control of special operations missions to Afghan forces, including night raids, relegating American troops to a supporting role and bringing the raids under Afghan judicial authority.

Afghan forces can still call on American troops for help and authorize them to enter Afghan residences and private compounds. An interministry Afghan command center with representatives of the Defense and Interior Ministries, as well as the National Directorate of Security, would review or develop information about potential targets in consultation with Americans, who would continue to provide extensive intelligence support. The interministry group would then decide whether to go after a target and send Afghan special operations forces to carry out the raid. The Afghans can request American assistance at any point in the operation — for intelligence, for back-up military support, air support, medical evacuation and post-operation intelligence gathering.

The agreement covers all night raids carried out by special operations forces. However, a small number of night operations are conducted under other auspices, including special C.I.A.-trained units, that are not covered by the agreement.

Source: New York Times | U.S. Transfers Control of Night Raids to Afghanistan

21 March 2012

NATO and adequate reparations to civilians in Libya

On the 21 March 2012, Amnesty International said that, while NATO may have taken appropriate measures to limit casualties to civilians in Libya, this did not remove its responsibility to investigate all civilian deaths and provide adequate compensation, which is so far deficient.

Source: Reuters | NATO failed to investigate Libya civilian deaths: Amnesty

1 February 2012

Negligence of French army in ensuring safety of troops in Afghanistan to be investigated

Claims brought by relatives of French soldiers killed in an ambush in Afghanistan in 2008 alleging that military commanders failed to ensure safety of the troops were declared admissible by the Court of Appeal of Paris on 30 January 2012. The families of the victims alleges that soldiers lacked equipments and that the mission had not been properly organized. This possibility of legal action regarding military operations was not welcomed by army officials and the Ministry of Defense who fear that “judicialization” of military actions would lead to military inefficacy.

Source: France24 | French court approves probe into deadly Afghan ambush
Source: Le Monde | Ouverture d'une enquête sur l'embuscade d'Uzbin

18 December 2011

Civilian casualties in Libya not acknowledged by NATO

The New York Times reported that NATO’s air campaign in Libya resulted in civilian casualties that the alliance has been refusing to acknowledge or investigate. While a spokesperson deeply regretted any loss of life, the NYT reports that NATO ‘deferred the responsibility of initiating any inquiry to Libya’s interim authorities, whose survival and climb to power were made possible largely by the airstrike campaign. So far, Libyan leaders have expressed no interest in examining NATO’s mistakes.’

Source: : In Strikes on Libya by NATO, an Unspoken Civilian Toll

5 December 2011

International Conference on Afghanistan opens in Bonn

Ten years after the 2001 Petersberg Conference, States have re-convened in Bonn to deliberate on the future of Afghanistan after the foreign troop withdrawal scheduled for 2014. While about 100 countries are attending the conference, Pakistan, one of the key players in the region, is boycotting the conference in protest of a NATO attack on a border checkpoint last month.


28 November 2011

Pakistan protests after NATO strike killing soldiers

NATO’s claim that it was retailing against gunfire from the Pakistani side of the border has been denied by Pakistan, which in return has lodged protests against both the United States and NATO in connection to the incident in which NATO air forces killed at least 25 soldiers in strikes against two military posts at the northwestern border with Afghanistan. Pakistan’s government already ordered the US to vacate an airbase used for drone strikes in Afghanistan, and announced that it would would “revisit and undertake a complete review of all programmes, activities and co-operative arrangements” with the US, and US-led forces in Afghanistan, “including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence”.

Source 1: Guardian – Pakistan orders US to leave airbase in row over deadly Nato assault

Source 2: NY Times – Tensions Flare Between U.S. and Pakistan After Strike

28 November 2011

Pakistani soldiers killed by ISAF air strikes in unclear circumstances

On Saturday 24 November 2011, 25 Pakistani soldiers were killed during air strikes conducted by Afghan and ISAF forces at the Pakistani border. While the incident is lifting up tensions between the US and Pakistan, its circumstances remains unclear. NATO is investigating the incident, including the possibility that it resulted from a communication problem. Possibly, NATO came under fire from insurgents at the border and mistakenly fired back at Pakistani soldiers.

Source 1:
Source 2:

28 November 2011

Afghan civilians killed during an ISAF operation

On Wednesday 23 November 2011, 7 Afghan civilians – including 6 children – were killed during a NATO airstrike in southern Afghanistan. According to the Afghan government, the strikes were targeting insurgents who entered an area were children were playing. The relatives of the victims, however, are contesting this version of the events and claim that ISAF indiscriminately killed civilians. NATO is investigating the incident.


27 November 2011

China and neighbouring States to conduct joint patrols of the Mekong River

China, Thailand, Laos and Burma agreed to launch joint patrols of the Mekong River that will involve the police departments of the four countries. This follows an attack last October where 13 Chinese crew members were killed. Thai soldiers have been suspected of carrying out the attack, and China urged the Thai and Burmese governments to do more to protect shipping in the area. The coordinated action of the four countries is intended to increase the security on the river.


8 September 2011

Torture Allegations Move NATO To Suspend Prisoner Transfers to Afghanistan

A pending U.N. report alleges that prisoners at some Afghan detention facilities have been beaten and, in some cases, given electric shocks. As a result, NATO has suspended detainee transfers to a number of questionable facilities until it can verify if the allegations are true.


6 September 2011

China offered Gadhafi huge stockpiles of arms: Libyan memos

China offered huge stockpiles of weapons to Colonel Moammar Gadhafi during the final months of his regime, according to papers that describe secret talks about shipments via Algeria and South Africa. Documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show that state-controlled Chinese arms manufacturers were prepared to sell weapons and ammunition worth at least $200-million to the embattled Col. Gadhafi in late July, a violation of United Nations sanctions.


6 September 2011

Rape in Haiti and The Recurring Problem of Crimes Committed by Peacekeepers

Haitian citizens are outraged at the rape of a young Haitian man by five Uruguayan UN Peacekeepers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The five men were arrested after a video-clip of the crime, which was committed within the confounds of a UN base, was published online. In cases where UN peacekeepers commit crimes, difficult questions on dual attribution between the troop-contributing nation and the UN, which enjoys immunity from local prosecution, may arise.



1 September 2011

Don’t Call It a Comeback

The success of the NATO mission in Libya is critically discussed in an op-ed by Kurt Volker on Foreign Policy.


8 July 2011

Judgments against the United Kingdom concerning Iraq

In its Grand Chamber judgment in Al-Skeini and Others v. the United Kingdom, the Court decided that the United Kingdom was required to investigate the deaths of six civilians killed in Iraq in 2003 in incidents involving British soldiers. The Court also delivered its Grand Chamber judgment in Al-Jedda v. the United Kingdom, in which it opined that the three-year internment of an Iraqi civilian by the British forces in Iraq had breached the Convention. In para. 80 of the latter case, dual or multiple attribution of the same conduct to the UN and a State was held to be possible. More information about these cases can be found in a blogpost on EJIL: Talk! by Marko Milanovic.


5 July 2011

Dutch state responsible for three Srebrenica deaths

The Dutch state is responsible for the deaths of three Muslim men after the fall of Srebrenica during the 1992-5 Bosnian war, a Dutch appeals court ruled. The Court, in this groundbreaking judgment (only available in Dutch), explains that the notion of effective control determines who carries responsiblity for acts by troops acting in relation to an international organisation. It holds that more than one actor can exercise such control over troops, opening the way for a case of shared responsbility in which the Dutch State, irrespective of the effective control on the part of the UN, can be held responsible. 


1 July 2011

Cost Of Wars In Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan To Reach $3.7 Trillion

The United States will have spent a total of $3.7 trillion on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, costing 225,000 lives and creating 7.8 million refugees, by the time the conflicts end, according to a report released on Wednesday by Brown University. There are many costs of these wars that have not yet been quantified and assessed. Also, there is still much more to know and understand about how all those affected by the wars have had their health, economies, and communities altered by the decade of war, and what solutions exist for the problems they face as a result of the wars’ destruction and the shared acts of the troop contributing nations.


27 June 2011

UNSC establishes new Peacekeeping Mission in Abyei

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing the deployment of a peacekeeping mission to the Sudanese region of Abyei. The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) will be composed of 4,200 Ethiopian troops and will monitor the withdrawal of (North) Sudanese troops from Abyei.


8 June 2011

NATO Secretary-General urges wider participation in Libya

Secretary-General Rasmussen wants more countries to share the burden of the operation in Libya and will push for wider participation and more involvement of States at NATO Ministry of Defense meeting of 8-9 June 2011.


8 February 2011

UNESCO to Assess Damage to Hindu Temple Caused by Thai-Cambodian Clashes

Recent armed clashes between Thailand and Cambodia have caused damage to the Preah Vihear Temple, a World Heritage site. UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, plans to send a mission to assess the extent of the damage. It has stated that World Heritage sites are the heritage of all humanity and the international community has a special responsibility to safeguard them.


28 January 2011

Dutch Parliament Approves New Afghanistan Mission

Nearly one year after the Dutch government collapsed over disagreement on its mission to Afghanistan, the new minority government has been able to obtain parliamentary approval to send police trainers to the war-torn nation until 2014. The decision is subject to the guarantee that the police trained by the Dutch will not be used in any military action.


28 January 2011

German Parliament Votes to Extend Afghanistan Mandate

The German parliament has voted to extend the country’s involvement in Afghanistan by one year. The mandate includes a potential withdrawal date. Nevertheless, any drawdown would still depend on the security situation in the country. NATO intends to complete the handover of security responsibilities to Afghan forces by 2014.


15 November 2010

EU criticized for ‘complicity’ in CIA rendition programmes

The European Union has been sharply criticized by Amnesty International for failing to call to account member states for their complicity in the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programme. Neither has the EU acknowledged that the Union itself bears collective responsibility for governments’ complicity in alleged torture, unlawful detention and enforced disappearances.


Read on the Guardian: