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EFFECTIVE LIMITATIONS AND ILLUSORY RIGHTS: A COMMENT ON THE MOTHERS OF SREBRENICA DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

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image of The Italian Yearbook of International Law Online

The latest attempt by the relatives of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre to hold the UN accountable for the inaction of UNPROFOR while the Bosnian enclave was attacked has once again proven unsuccessful. In a unanimous decision in the Stichting Mothers of Srebrenica and others v. the Netherlands case, the European Court of Human Rights declared the application to be ill-founded, finding that the decision of Dutch courts to grant immunity to the UN did not violate the applicants’ right of access to a court. An intrinsic tension between two contemporary trends seems to be embodied in this recent decision. On the one hand the decision follows established and authoritative practice according to which a civil claim cannot override immunity from jurisdiction even though no alternative means of redress is available. On the other hand it conflicts with the growing emphasis placed on the right of access to justice and the right to remedy for victims of gross violations of human rights in the last decade. This note aims to provide a critical review of the decision, focusing on the “alternative means of remedy” test in cases involving the immunity of international organizations. In doing so, the note questions whether such a test must always be a prerequisite for the effective enjoyment of the right of access to a court.

10.1163/22116133-90230047
/content/journals/10.1163/22116133-90230047
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/content/journals/10.1163/22116133-90230047
2014-11-17
2018-10-20

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