Background to war crimes 1 While the origins of the laws of war stretch back centuries, 2 the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were the first to see multilateral conventions on the law of armed conflict, 3 and the twentieth century was the first to see significant prosecutions for breaches of this law. 4 Following the prosecution of a small number of Germans after the First World War by the Supreme Court of the Reich in Leipzig, 5 the aftermath of the Second World War saw the prosecution by the Allies of
Background to non-international armed conflicts The extent of jurisdiction over war crimes committed in non-international armed conflicts in the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a controversial issue at the Diplomatic Conference in Rome. 1 International humanitarian law relating to internal conflicts is less well developed than that relating to international armed conflicts, although in 1949 Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions established basic rules with respect to those persons not
killing or wounding combatants who have surrendered or have no means of defence. The term ‘surrendered at discretion’ was explained by the British Manual of Military Law as meaning that the combatant must surrender unconditionally before obtaining the protection of this Article. 245 Violations of this prohibition were punished in war crimes trials after the Second World War. 246 In the Peleus Trial, where the commander of a German submarine ordered the killing of survivors of a sunken vessel, the Judge Advocate stated that it was a ‘fundamental usage of war that
This book provides a critical analysis of the definitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity as construed in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Each crime is discussed from its origins in treaty or customary international law, through developments as a result of the jurisprudence of modern ad hoc or internationalised tribunals, to modifications introduced by the Rome Statute and the Elements of Crimes. The influence of human rights law upon the definition of crimes is discussed, as is the possible impact of State reservations on the underlying treaties that form the basis for the conduct covered by the offences in the Rome Statute. Examples are also given from recent conflicts to aid a ‘real-life’ discussion of the type of conduct over which the International Criminal Court may take jurisdiction.
Nine years of continuous conflict in Syria have borne witness to various atrocities against civilians, some of which amount to war crimes. Most of the involved parties have committed such atrocities, but the Government of Syria (GoS) and its allies remain at the top of the list of perpetrators. Out of a population of 21 million in 2010, more than half a million Syrians were killed as of January 2019 with more than 13 million displaced either inside the country, in neighbouring countries or elsewhere. Moreover, civilian infrastructures, including but not limited to health, have been severely affected, resulting in interrupted services and suffering. Looking at patterns of these atrocities, timing of occurrence, and consequences, could allow us to draw conclusions about motivations. While the GoS maintains these attacks were against combating civilians, we argue that civilians and civilian infrastructure were military and strategic targets, rather than collateral damage to the attacks committed by the GoS and its allies. The motives behind attacking civilians may be related to military gains in imposing submission and surrender; whereas others may be linked to long-term goals such as forced displacement and demographic engineering. This paper argues, supported by several examples throughout the course of the Syrian conflict, that GoS has used a five-point military tactic with targeting healthcare being at the heart of it. This military tactic has been extremely effective in regaining most opposition strongholds at the expense of civilian suffering and health catastrophe.
Developed through a series of encounters with a Bosnian Serb soldier Stojan Sokolović, this book is a meditation on the possibilities and limitations of responding to the extreme violence of the Bosnian war. It explores the ethics of confronting the war criminal and investigates the possibility of responsibility not just to victims of war and war crimes, but also to the perpetrators of violence. The book explains how Stojan Sokolović attenuated the author to the fact that he was responsible, to everyone, all the time, and for everything. It exposes the complexity of the categories of good and evil. Silence is also the herald of violence, or its co-conspirator. The author and Stojan Sokolović were trapped in violence, discursive and material, and discursive that leads to material, and material that emanates from and leads back to discursive. Two years after beginning his research into identity and the politics of conflict in Bosnia and Kosovo, the author got the opportunity to visit the region presented itself. According to the vast majority of the literature of the 1990s on Bosnia, it was clear that the biggest problem with nationalist violence and intolerance was to be found in Republika Srpska. The book is the author's discourse on a variety of experiences, including those of ethics, politics, disasters, technologies, fieldwork, adventure tourism, and dilemmas.
, security of staff and access to populations became important priorities, and témoignage came to be increasingly seen as jeopardising MSF’s operational presence ( Binet, 2010 : 43). Around the same time, the International Criminal Court was established to promote accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Although MSF collectively decided not to cooperate with the Court, it could do little to prevent its public statements from being used as evidence
scrambled to treat the wounded while appealing to Afghan, US, and UN officials to stop the attack. By the time the firing stopped over an hour later, at least forty-two people had been killed – including MSF staff, hospital patients, and family members – over thirty were injured, and thirty-three were missing. MSF later alleged that the attack constituted a war crime and called for an independent and impartial investigation. The bombing of MSF’s trauma centre in Kunduz, Afghanistan by a US Air Force AC-130U gunship quickly garnered headlines around the world, generating
issues such as attacks on health care, talking about documenting war crimes, there are of course even more strict protocols to follow.’ Hence, quality is emphasised over quantity. Another representative remarked: ‘We don’t need one [more piece of] evidence that those attacks are happening. We just need to analyse the data that we know are true. […] Whether it is 100 attacks or 120, it means nothing. At the end, one attack [on a health facility] is a crime’ (interview with a
region of its inhabitants (a clear objective of Serb nationalists in the Bosnian war, for example). Conversely, civilians have been used as human shields by rebel groups keeping them hostage in an attempt to secure military positions or to force governmental forces to commit war crimes. This was, for example, the strategy of the LTTE when the Sri Lankan government troops advanced on the Vanni region in early 2009. Ultimately, what matters is the reason underlying the decision to open or to call for a humanitarian corridor. Corridors can be misappropriated by a third