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DUAL ATTRIBUTION OF ACTS COMMITTED BY A UN PEACEKEEPING FORCE: AN EMERGING NORM OF CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW? THE DUTCH SUPREME COURT’S JUDGMENTS IN NUHANOVIÇ AND MUSTAFIĆ

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In two cases lodged by victims (or their relatives) of the massacre in Srebrenica in 1995, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands has taken a progressive stance on the interpretation of international law on the responsibility of States and international organizations for wrongful acts. The Supreme Court upheld the earlier decisions of The Hague Court of Appeal, confirming that the Netherlands can be held responsible for the death and injuries of these victims, despite the fact that the Dutch troops employed to protect this enclave were part of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force. By accepting the possibility of dual attribution of an internationally wrongful act to both the UN and the troop-sending State, it has departed from the restrictive approach adopted in current judicial practice, in particular by the European Court of Human Rights. In this note, the Supreme Court’s judgments are discussed, focusing on (i) the question of dual attribution of an international wrongful act, and (ii) the extraterritorial application of human rights treaties. It concludes that, although the Supreme Court’s reliance on two sets of Draft Articles of the International Law Commission without referring to any State practice is surprising, these judgments should be welcomed as significant precedents, which may contribute to the development of a norm of customary international law. They also constitute an important step towards ensuring access to justice and reparation for the victims of gross human rights violations, such as those committed in Srebrenica.

10.1163/22116133-90230048
/content/journals/10.1163/22116133-90230048
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2014-11-17
2017-11-18

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