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Without order, anything goes? The prohibition of forced displacement in non-international armed conflict

  • Jan Willms

Abstract

At first glance, merely the ‘ordering’ of displacement seems to be prohibited in non-international armed conflict. However, after interpreting Article 17(1) AP II and Rule 129(B) of the ICRC Customary Law Study with particular regard to State practice and opinio juris, the author concludes that these norms prohibit forced displacement regardless of whether it is ordered or not. On the other hand, the ICC Elements of Crimes for the crime of forced displacement under Article 8(2)(e)(viii) ICC Statute require an order. It remains to be seen whether the ICC adopts that interpretation in its jurisprudence.

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1 Illegitimate reasons are those which are not covered by the exceptions in Additional Protocol II (APII). Article 17(1) AP II does not prohibit the displacement of the civilian population ‘if the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand’. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, adopted 8 June 1977, entered into force 7 December 1978, 1125 UNTS 609 (Additional Protocol II, AP II).

2 Jean-Marie Henckaerts and Louise Doswald-Beck, Customary International Humanitarian Law, ICRC/Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005, Vol. I, pp. 457–462.

3 Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC Statute), adopted 17 July 1998, entered into force 1 July 2002, 37 ILM 1002.

4 See e.g. Carey, Carlyn, ‘Internal Displacement: Is Prevention through Accountability Possible? A Kosovo Case Study’, American University Law Review, Vol. 43, 1999, p. 267.

5 International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Prosecutor v. Gotovina et al., Defendant Ante Gotovina's Preliminary Motion Challenging Jurisdiction Pursuant to Rule 72(A)(i) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, 18 January 2007, IT-06-90-PT paras. 7–9; ICTY, Prosecutor v. Gotovina et al., Defendant Ante Gotovina's Interlocutory Appeal Against Decision on Several Motions Challenging Jurisdiction Rendered 19 March 2007 by Trial Chamber I, 3 April 2007, IT-06-90-AR72.1, para. 69 and paras. 31–36 (for the Defence's argument on the distinction between war crimes and crimes against humanity); ICTY, Prosecutor v. Gotovina et al., Pre-Trial Brief of General Ante Gotovina, IT-06-90-PT, 5 April 2007, para. 157. The Gotovina Defence argues that crimes against humanity are derived from war crimes. Therefore, the requirements of a war crime need to be applied when addressing whether or not the corresponding crime against humanity has been committed. The Defence elaborates that Rule 129 of the ICRC Customary Law Study (Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2) indicates that the crime of ‘deportation and forcible transfer’ is only applicable in international armed conflict. The corresponding offence in non-international armed conflict is the ‘forced movement of civilians’. Based on the Defence's assumption that the Trial Chamber considered the armed conflict during Operation Storm of non-international nature, it concludes that Ante Gotovina was illegally indicted for the crime against humanity of ‘deportation and forcible transfer’.

6 ICTY, Prosecutor v. Gotovina et al., Decision on Several Motions Challenging Jurisdiction, 19 March 2007, IT-06-90-PT, fn. 61 referring to the above, i.e. paras. 24–28; Trial Chamber I held that regimes of war crimes and crimes against humanity exist ‘separately and independently’ of each other. Article 5 of the ICTY Statute applies in international and non-international armed conflict and does not require the application of the laws and customs of war.

7 Ibid., fn. 61.

8 ICTY, Prosecutor v. Gotovina et al., Decision on Ante Gotovina's Interlocutory Appeal against the Decision on Several Motions Challenging Jurisdiction, 6 June 2007, IT-06-90-AR72.1, para. 15.

9 See e.g. ICTY, Prosecutor v. Blagojević and Jokić, Trial Judgement, IT-02-60-T, 17 January 2005, para. 596.

10 Traditionally ‘forcible transfer’ is a displacement within the territory of a state, and ‘deportation’ takes place beyond internationally recognized state borders (Ibid., para. 595).

11 For the broader notion of ‘arbitrary displacement’ see Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2, 11 February 1998, Principle 6.

12 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) (adopted 23 May 1969, entered into force 27 January 1980) 1155 UNTS 331.

13 According to its Article 4, the VCLT applies only to treaties after the VCLT's entry into force in 1980. However, its rules of interpretation were considered as declaratory of customary international law before. See Bundesverfassungsgericht (Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany) (1971) 40 BVerfGE pp. 141–179, p. 166; Golder v. UK (App. No. 4451/70) (1975) Series A, No. 18, pp. 5–22, paras. 34–35. It is thus possible to apply the rules of treaty interpretation, stipulated in the VCLT, to treaties concluded before 1980, including Additional Protocol II. Heribert Köck, Vertragsinterpretation und Vertragsrechtskonvention: Zur Bedeutung der Artikel 31 und 32 der Wiener Vertragsrechtskonvention 1969, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1976, p. 79; Georg Ress, ‘The Interpretation of the Charter’ in Bruno Simma et al, The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002, p. 18.

14 Art. 31(3)(b), VCLT.

15 Art. 32(a), VCLT. Recourse may be had to preparatory works in so far as the interpretation resulting from Article 31(1) ‘leaves the meaning ambiguous or obscure’ or leads to a manifestly unreasonable result.

16 Michael Bothe et al., New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflicts, Commentary on the Two 1977 Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague, 1982, p. 691.

17 See e.g. Report of Committee III, Second Session, CDDH/215/Rev. 1; vol. XV, p. 259, para. 150.

18 Preamble, AP II.

19 ICRC, Conference of Government Experts on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts 24 May–12 June 1971, Vol. VI, p. 29, fn. 9 (background document for the Conference based on expert consultations).

20 The ordinary meaning of ‘compel’ is to ‘bring about an action by force’ – The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1991, p. 232. ‘Force’, as opposed to ‘order’, covers indirect acts. Ibid., p. 459. See also Yves Sandoz et al. (eds), Commentary on the Additional Protocols, ICRC/Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Geneva/Dordrecht, 1987, p. 1474.

21 Conference of Government Experts 1972, Report, Vol. I, para. 2503, Vol. II CE/COM II/85, p. 50 (emphasis added).

22 Mr Wolfe (Canada), Mr Cristescu (Romania), Miss Ahmadi (Iran), Meeting of Committee III, 4 April 1975 (CDDH/III/SR. 37; XIV, 387) reprinted in Howard Levie (ed), The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict: Protocol II to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht, 1987, pp. 531, 537–538.

23 Preamble, AP II.

24 See State practice and opinio juris quoted in Yearbook of the International Law Commission (YILC), 2001, Vol. II, Part Two, as corrected, pp. 45–46.

25 Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, Article 7, in YILC, ibid. p. 45.

26 Note verbale by Duke Almodóvar del Río, 4 July 1898, Archivio del Ministero degli Affari esteri italiano, Serie Politica P, No. 43, quoted in Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, with commentaries, YILC, above note 24, p. 45.

27 According to Article 2 of the Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts: ‘There is an internationally wrongful act of a State when conduct consisting of an action or omission: (a) is attributable to the State under international law; and (b) constitutes a breach of an international obligation of the State.’ YILC, above note 24, p. 34.

28 YILC, above note 24, p. 47.

29 Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, adopted 18 October 1907, entered into force 26 January 1910, in De Martens, Nouveau Recueil général de Traités, Series 3, Vol. III, 461, Article 3; Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, adopted 8 June 1977, entered into force 7 December 1978, 1125 UNTS 3, Article 91. Admittedly, these are provisions applicable in international armed conflict only, but Rule 149 of the ICRC Customary Law Study (Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2) extends the content of these provisions to non-international armed conflict. It does not need to be discussed whether or not Rule 149 was customary in non-international armed conflict in 1977. The point that is made is simply that military discipline and State responsibility for violations are important principles in international humanitarian law.

30 Art 32, VCLT (chapeau).

31 YILC, 1964, Vol. 2, p. 199.

32 Gerald Fitzmaurice, The Law and Procedure of the International Court of Justice, Vol. II, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995, p. 796.

33 YILC, 1966, Vol. II, p. 222.

34 Ibid., p 99. In the above quote, the ILC referred to the term ‘understanding’ rather than ‘agreement’. The drafting committee changed ‘understanding’ to ‘agreement’, not in order to alter the meaning of article 31(3)(b), but in order to attain consistency between the different authoritative language versions. See also International Court of Justice, Kasiliki/Sedudu Island Case (Botswana/Namibia), Public Sitting held on 17 February 1999, Arguments by Namibia, para. 8, available at http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/98/4749.pdf (visited 17 September 2009).

35 Beagle Channel Arbitration (Argentina v. Chile), International Law Reports, Vol. 52, p. 224, para. 169.

36 Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, ‘Die weiteren Quellen des Völkerrechts’ in Knut Ipsen (ed), Völkerrecht, Verlag C.H. Beck, Munich, 2004, p. 239.

37 UN General Assembly, Res. 46/242, UN Doc. A/RES/46/242, preamble (136-1-5). Even though the condemnation is found in the preamble, it is still a good indication of opinio juris. The objective of ethnic cleansing is to change the ethnic composition of a territory, primarily through displacement but also through other means. See Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2, Vol. I, pp. 461–462.

38 UN Security Council, Res. 771, 13 August 1992, UN Doc. S/RES/771, para. 2; Res. 787, 16 November 1992, S/RES/819, para. 7; Res. 819, 16 April 1993, UN Doc. S/RES 819, para. 7; Res. 820, 17 April 1993, UN Doc. S/RES/820, para. 6; Res. 941, 23 September 1994, UN Doc. S/RES/941, para. 2.

39 Prosecutor v. Tadić, Decision on the Defence Motion for Interlocutory Appeal on Jurisdiction, IT-94-1-AR72, paras. 75–77.

40 Constitutional Court of Colombia, Constitutional revision of Additional Protocol II and the Law 171 of 16 December 1994, implementing this Protocol, Judgement, Constitutional Case No. C-225/95, 18 May 1995, para. 33.

41 The following instances of practice contain an explicit reference to non-international armed conflict: Canada's Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) Manual (2004), p. 17-6 (under the heading of violations of Additional Protocol II); Colombia's Basic Military Manual (1995), p. 77; Netherlands, Military Manual (1993), p. IX-7; New Zealand, Military Manual (1992), para. 1823(1); Georgia, Criminal Code (1999), Article 411(2)(f); Tajikistan, Criminal Code (1998), Article 374(1). Tajikistan's law is ambiguous as it refers to international armed conflict or non-international armed conflict but then sets occupation as a condition; Report on the Practice of Egypt, 1997, chapter 5.5; Report on the Practice of France, 1999, chapters 5.5 and 5.7; The relevance of the following practice for non-international armed conflict is indirect (in most instances there is a reference to armed conflict thus comprising non-international armed conflict): 1992 Sarajevo Declaration on Humanitarian Treatment of Displaced Persons; Cotonou Agreement (Liberia peace agreement), p. 2911, para. 29; Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2, 11 February 1998, Principle 6(2)(b); 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and IHL in the Philippines, Part IV, Art. 3(7); France LOAC Manual (2001), p. 65; Colombia, Law on Internally Displaced Persons (1997), Articles 2(7) and 10(5); Colombia, Penal Code (2000), Article 159; Côte d'Ivoire, Penal Code as amended (1981), Article 138(3); Estonia, Penal Code (2001), para. 97; Ethiopia, Penal Code (1957), Article 282(c); Mali, Penal Code (2001), Article 31(g) and (i)(8); Nicaragua, Military Penal Code (1996), Article 58; Niger, Penal Code as amended (1961), Article 208.3(6); Slovenia, Penal Code (1994), Article 374(1); Japan, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3106, 13 August 1992, p. 21; Netherlands, Letter from the Minister of Defence to the Lower House of Parliament, 1994–1995 Session, Doc. 22 181, No. 109, p. 6; New Zealand, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3217, 25 May 1993, p. 22; Nigeria, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3344, 4 March 1994, p. 6; Russia, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3591, 9 November 1995, p. 8; Report on the practice of Russia, 1997, chapter 5.5; Botswana, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3535, 12 May 1995, p. 9; Russia, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3591, 9 November 1995, p. 8; Spain, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3325, 22 December 1993; UK, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3106, 13 August 1992, p. 36; UN Security Council, Res. 752, 15 May 1992, UN Doc. S/RES/752, para. 6; UN Security Council, Res. 819, 16 April 1993, S/RES/819, preamble; UN Security Council, Res. 822, 30 April 1993, UN Doc. S/RES/822, preamble; UN Security Council, Res. 918, 17 May 1994, UN Doc. S/RES/918, preamble; UN Security Council, Res. 1009, 10 August 1995, S/RES/1009, para. 2.

42 1992 Agreement on the Application of IHL between the Parties to the Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, quoted in Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2, Vol. II, p. 2911, para. 28; UNTAET Regulation No. 2000/15, Section 6(1)(e)(iii); Argentina, Law of War Manual (1989), para. 7.08; Bosnia and Herzegovina, Federation, Criminal Code (1998), Article 154(1); Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, Criminal Code (2000), Article 433(1); Croatia, Criminal Code (1997), Article 158(1); Report on the Practice of Jordan, 1997, chapter 5.5. Most of the practice quoted in this and in the preceding footnote can be found in Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2, Vol. II, Part 2, chapter 38 on displacement, p. 2908ff.

43 Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Jordan voted in favour. For the voting record, see UN General Assembly, 91st Plenary Meeting, 25 August 1992, UN Doc. A/46/PV.91.

44 This includes practice prior to the publication of the ICRC Customary Law Study (Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2), as it is practice from which the rules in the ICRC Customary Law Study were deduced.

45 UN General Assembly, Res. 55/116, 4 December 2000, UN Doc. A/RES/55/116, para. 2(a)(ii).

46 UN General Assembly, 81st Plenary Meeting, 3 December 2000, UN Doc. A/55/PV.81, pp. 23–24.

47 See e.g. Yemen which declined to vote on any human rights resolution (Mr Al-Ethary), UN General Assembly, 81st Plenary Meeting, 3 December 2000, UN Doc. A/55/PV.81, p. 21. The States which voted against the Resolution were Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, China, Comoros, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam.

48 UN Security Council, Res. 1556, 30 July 2004, UN Doc. S/RES/1556, preamble.

49 UN Security Council, 5015th Meeting, UN Doc. S/PV.5015, p. 3.

50 UN Commission on Human Rights, 21 April 2004, UN Doc. E/CN.4/RES/2004/80.

51 UN General Assembly, Res. 61/232, 22 December 2006, UN Doc. 61/232, para. 2(b), voting record: 82-25-45.

52 UN General Assembly, 84th Plenary Meeting, 22 December 2006, UN Doc. A/61/PV.84, pp. 14–15.

53 Report on US Practice, 1997, chapter 5.5, referring to a Message from the US President Transmitting AP II to the US Senate for Advice and Consent to Ratification, Treaty Doc. 100-2, 29 January 1987, Comment on Article 17, quoted in Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2, para. 17.

54 UN Security Council, 5015th Meeting, UN Doc. S/PV.5015, p. 3.

55 UN General Assembly, 84th Plenary Meeting, 22 December 2006, UN Doc. A/61/PV.84, p. 15.

56 Report on the Practice of India, 1997, chapter 5.5, para. 103; Azerbaijan Criminal Code, 1999, Article 115.2 (quoted in Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2, Vol. II, at paras. 103 and 70, respectively).

57 Article 8(2)(e)(viii), ICC Statute.

58 International Criminal Court (ICC), Elements of Crimes, ICC-ASP/1/3(part II-B), adopted and entered into force 9 September 2002, p. 42, Element 1.

59 Knut Dörmann, Elements of War Crimes under the Rome Statute, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2002, p. 472.

60 ICC, Elements of Crimes, above note 58, p. 42, Element 3.

61 Dörmann, Elements of War Crimes, above note 59, p. 473.

62 Article 9(1), ICC Statute.

63 See e.g. Mauro Politi, ‘Elements of the Crimes: an overview’, in Antonio Cassese, Paola Gaeta and John R.W.D. Jones (eds), The International Criminal Court: A Commentary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002, Vol. I, p. 447; Erkin Gadirov, in Otto Triffterer (ed), Commentary on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden, 1999, p. 309.

64 Dörmann, Elements of War Crimes, above note 59, p. 8. According to Dörmann, Article 9(3) of the ICC Statute is lex specialis to Article 21(1)(a) ICC Statute.

65 Otto Triffterer, in Bernd Schünemann et al. (eds), Festschrift für Claus Roxin zum 70. Geburtstag am 15. Mai 2001, De Gruyter, Berlin, 2001, p. 1430.

66 See Article 17, ICC Statute.

67 See e.g. Australia, ICC (Consequential Amendments) Act, 2002, Schedule 1, para. 268.89; Canada, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, 2000, Schedule; New Zealand, International Crimes and ICC Act, 2003, Section 11(2); Trinidad and Tobago, Draft ICC Act (1999), Section 5(1)(a); United Kingdom ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1). The latter three acts are quoted in Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2, at paras. 124, 144 and 148, respectively.

68 See Germany, Law Introducing the International Crimes Code (2002), Article 1, para. 8(1)(6), quoted in Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2, para. 100.

69 Australia, ICC (Consequential Amendments) Act (2002), Schedule 1, para. 268.89.

70 See above note 67 and corresponding text.

71 Canada's Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) Manual (2004), p. 17-6; New Zealand, Military Manual (1992), para. 1823(1) quoted in Henckaerts and Doswald-Beck, above note 2, para. 54.

72 Preamble, AP II.

73 See paragraph accompanying note 9 above. In the above, the ICTY jurisprudence on crimes against humanity was not used in order to ascertain whether an order is necessary for a violation of Article 17(1) AP II, also because Article 5 of the ICTY Statute does not require an order for crimes against humanity.

74 ICTY, Prosecutor v. Blagojević and Jokić, Trial Judgement, IT-02-60-T, 17 January 2005, para. 596, referring, inter alia, to ICTY, Prosecutor v. Krnojelac, Appeal Judgement, IT-97-25-A, 17 September 2003, para. 229.

* The author would like to thank Deborah Casalin, Laurent Gisel and Jean-Marie Henckaerts for providing comments on an earlier draft of this article. All views expressed are personal.

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