Skip to main content Accesibility Help
×
×
Home

Displacement of Civilians during Armed Conflict in the Light of the Case Law of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission

  • ALLEHONE MULUGETA ABEBE
Abstract

The awards on liability and damages for violations of international humanitarian law of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission uncover both the extent of state responsibility for unlawful displacement and deportation of civilian population resulting from wrongful actions of belligerents under international law and the availability of remedies for victims of such violations. The Commission reached a number of important decisions based on government-to-government claims brought by Ethiopia and Eritrea for injuries, losses, and damage suffered by individuals and groups uprooted by the war. While these decisions bring to light the potential of international humanitarian law in addressing the plight of the displaced, they also expose the limitations of the tribunal's mandate and its interpretation of existing law. The aim of this essay is to analyse the case law of the Commission in the light of international law applicable to situations of displacement of civilians triggered by international armed conflicts, and evaluate the relevance of the Commission's jurisprudence for the development of the law in the field.

Copyright
References
Hide All

1 See F. Deng, Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolutions 1997/39, Compilation and Analysis of Legal Norms, Part II: Legal Aspect to the Protection against Arbitrary Displacement, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.1 (1998), II A.

2 W. Kalin, The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Annotations (2008), at 27.

3 Deng, supra note 1, para. 1.1.

4 Although the 1907 Hague Regulations do not explicitly prohibit deportation, it was argued that the practice of deportation will clearly violate the provisions of the regulation. J.-M. Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice (1995), at 150.

5 Ibid., at 60. See also T. Meron, Human Rights and Humanitarian Norms as Customary Law (1989), 48–9.

6 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention), 75 UNTS 287, Art. 147.

7 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-international Armed Conflicts (Additional Protocol II), 1125 UNTS 609.

8 Ibid., Art. 45.

9 These rules prohibit using civilians as targets, indiscriminate attack, spreading terror among civilian populations, using civilian property as object of attack, using starvation as a method of attack, and collective punishment and reprisals.

10 Fourth Geneva Convention, supra note 6, Art. 49

11 Gillard, E., ‘The Role of International Humanitarian Law in the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons’ (2005) 24 Refugee Survey Quarterly 38, at 41.

12 Henckaerts, supra note 4, at 135; see also M. Kamto, Preliminary report on the expulsion of aliens, UN Doc. A/CN.4/554/2005, para. 15.

13 Fourth Geneva Convention, supra note 6, Art. 49. See also In re Krupp and others, US Military Tribunal, 30 June 1948, 15 AD (1948) 620, Case No. 214.

14 Henckaerts, supra note 4, at 141–2.

15 1945 Charter of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of Major War Criminals of the European Axis, 82 UNTS 279, Art. 6(b).

16 See Draft Code of Offences against the Peace and Security of Mankind, UN Doc. A/CN.4./L.464/Add.4 (1991).

17 Statute of the International Criminal Court, UN Doc. A/CONF.183/9, Arts. 8(2)(b)(viii) and 8(2)(e)(viii).

18 1993 Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, 32 ILM 1203, Art. 7(1)(d).

19 Ibid., Art. 5. See also decisions of the ICTY such as Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstić, Judgement, Case No. IT-98–33, T.Ch. I, 2 August 2001, para. 532, and Prosecutor v. Blagojević et al., Judgement, Case No. IT-02–60- T,17 January 2005.

20 Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 1994, 33 ILM 1602, Art. 3.

22 J.-M. Henckaerts and L. Doswald-Beck, Customary International Humanitarian Law (2005), I, 457–74.

23 Fourth Geneva Convention, supra note 6, Art. 49, para. 2.

24 See J. Pictet (ed.), Commentary IV, Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1958), 279–80.

25 Partial Award, Ethiopia's Claim 2, paras. 67–68.

26 See 1907 Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, USTS 539.

27 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflict (Additional Protocol I), 1125 UNTS 3, 16 ILM 1397.

28 For a comprehensive comparative review of these mechanisms, including the EECC, see H. Holtzmann and E. Kristjansdottir (eds.), International Mass Claims Processes: Legal and Practical Perspectives (2007).

29 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, initiated in Dayton, 21 November 1995, signed in Paris, Ann.7, 35 ILM.

30 Although the claims of those individuals who, as a result of Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait, left or fled Iraq or Kuwait during the Gulf was considered by the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), Iraqi nationals were not allowed to bring claims. See Holtzmann and Kristjansdottir, supra note 28, at 139.

31 Aldrich, G. A., ‘The Work of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission’, (2003) 6 Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law 435, at 436.

32 Ibid.; E. Gillard, ‘Reparations for Violations of International Humanitarian Law’, (2003) 85 International Review of the Red Cross 851, at 534; W. Kidane, ‘Civil Liability for Violations of International Humanitarian Law: The Jurisprudence of the Ethiopia Eritrea Claims Commission in the Hague’, 2 Wisconsin International Law Journal 24.

33 Gillard, supra note 32, at 533.

34 Kalshoven, F., ‘State Responsibility for Warlike Acts of the Armed Forces’, (1991) 40 International and Comparative Law Quarterly, at 836.

35 Humanitarian Update: Ethiopia, OCHA, 8 September 1999.

37 See I. Fisher, ‘Ethiopian Army Slices into Eritrea as Vast Throngs Flee’, New York Times, 19 May 2000.

38 Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claims, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 12 (2004), para. 31.

39 Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Partial Award, Civilian Claim, Ethiopian Claim 5 (2004), para. 6.

40 For Eritrea, this number does not include those rural Eritreans who were expelled by Ethiopia but were difficult to account for.

41 Members of the Commission comprise Hans van Houtte (president), George Aldrich (appointed by Ethiopia), John Crook (appointed by Eritrea), James Paul (appointed by Ethiopia), Lucy Reed (appointed by Eritrea).

42 Holtzmann and Kristjansdottir, supra note 28, at 355.

43 Agreement between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the State of Eritrea, 12 December 2000 (December 2000 Agreement), Art. 5(1), available at www.pca-cpa.org/upload/files/Algiers%20Agreement.pdf.

45 EECC Decision No. 1: The Commission's Mandate/Temporal Jurisdiction.

46 Agreement, supra note 43.

47 Ibid., Art. 5(9).

48 EECC Rules of Procedure, Art. 14(1).

49 Klein, N., ‘State Responsibility for International Humanitarian Law Violations and the Work of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission So Far’, (2005) 47 German Yearbook of International Law 214, at 238.

50 Partial Award, Prisoner of War, Ethiopia's Claim 4, para. 43; Partial Award, Prisoner of War, Eritrea's Claim 17, para. 49.

51 See Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Decision No. 4: Evidence, para. 3.

52 Partial Award, Civilian Claims, Ethiopia's Claim 5, para. 34.

53 Partial Award, Western Front, Arial Bombardment and Related Claims, Eritrea's Claims 1, 3, 5, 9–13, 14, 21, 25, and 26, para. 139.

54 The other categories of claims were claims of prisoners of war for injuries suffered from unlawful treatment; claims of civilians for unlawful detention and injuries suffered from unlawful treatment during detention; claims of persons for loss, damage, or injury other than those covered by other categories; and claims of the two party governments for loss, damage, or injury. See Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission: Decision No. 2, Claims Categories, Forms and Procedures.

56 Holtzmann and Kristjansdottir, supra note 28, at 148.

57 Ibid., at 52.

58 Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Decision No. 2, Section B.

59 Holtzmann and Kristjansdottir, supra note 28, at 155–6.

60 Partial Award, Western Front, Arial Bombardment and Related Claims, Eritrea's Claims 1, 3, 5, 9–13, 14, 21, 25, and 26, para. 136.

61 Partial Award, Western Front, Eritrea's Claims 1, 3, 5, 9–13, 14, 25, and 26, para. 87.

62 Partial Award, Western Front Arial Bombardment and Other Related Claims, Eritrea's Claims 1, 3, 5, 9–13, 14, 21, 25, and 26, para. 36.

63 See Partial Award, Eritrea's Claims 1, 3, 5 and 9–13.

64 See Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 22; Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 22; Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Claim 2.

65 December 2000 Agreement, Art. 19.

66 Partial Award, Prisoners of War, Eritrea's Claim 17, para. 38; Partial Award, Prisoners of War, Ethiopia's Claim 4, para. 29; Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 12, para. 21.

67 Partial Award, Civilians Claims, Eritrea's Claims 15, 16, 23 and 27–32, para. 28.

69 Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 12, para 23. Eritrea also cited some additional human rights instrument in relations to its claims with respect to what it considers to be Ethiopian nationals of Eritrean extraction. See Partial Award, Civilians Claims, Eritrea's Claims 15, 16, 23, and 27–32, para. 27.

70 Partial Award, Civilians Claims, Eritrea's Claims 15, 16, 23 and 27–32, para. 27.

71 Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 12, para. 25.

72 Ibid., para. 154.

73 Ibid., XIII Award.

74 Ibid., para. 24. The Commission accepts that some portions of the Protocol are reflections of progressive development of international law. See Partial Award, Civilians Claims, Eritrea's Claims 15, 16, 23 and 27–32, para. 29. But it did not clearly define the contours of these sections of the Protocol which qualify as expression of binding international customary law (the articles included in this category include Art. 75).

75 Partial Award in Eritrea's POW Claim, paras. 29, 38; Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 22 Between the State of Eritrea and the Federal Democratic Government of Ethiopia (28 April 2004), para. 21; Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Claim 2, para. 15; Partial Award in Eritrea's Civilians Claims.

76 Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claims, 2. 4, 6, 7, 8 and 12, para 23. The Commission made reference to the Hague regulations, for example in the context of protection of enemy property (Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Civilian Claim 5, para. 123.

77 Partial Award, Western Front, Arial Bombardment and Related Claims, Eritrea's Claims 1, 3, 5, 9–13, 14, 21, 25 and 26, para. 11.

78 Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Claim 2, para. 77.

79 It states, ‘Neither the occupation of a territory nor the application of the Conventions and this Protocol shall affect the legal status of the territory in question.’

80 ‘The alternative could deny vulnerable persons in disputed areas the important protections provided by international humanitarian law. These protections should not be cast into doubt because the belligerents dispute the status of territory. The alternative would frustrate essential humanitarian principles and create an ex post facto nightmare. Moreover, respecting international protections in such situations does not prejudice the status of the territory.’ Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Claim 2, para. 28.

81 Partial Award, Eritrea's Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 22, para. 57.

84 Partial Awards, Western and Eastern Fronts, Ethiopia's Claims 1 and 3, para. 19.

86 Klein, supra note 49, para. 235.

87 Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Civilian Claim, 5, para. 29.

88 Ibid., para. 123

89 As indicated, Eritrea's claim includes those made on behalf of those whom it considers to be Ethiopians of Eritrean heritage.

90 Partial Award, Central Front Claims, Eritrea's Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 12, para. 29; Partial Award, Central Front Claims, Ethiopia's Claim 2, para. 23.

91 Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Civilian Claim 5, VIII Award., para. 10.

92 Ibid., para. 11.

93 Ibid., para. 12.

94 Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Civilian Claim 5, paras. 123, 127.

95 Ibid., para. 127.

96 Partial Award, Civilians Claims, Eritrea's Claims 15, 16, 23 and 27–32, part VIII; also Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Civilian Claim, 5, para. 120.

97 Partial Award, Civilians Claims, Eritrea's Claims 15, 16, 23 and 27–32, part VIII; also Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Civilian Claim 5, para. 121.

98 Partial Award, Eritrea Civilian Claims 15, 16, 23 and 27–32, para. 68.

99 Partial Award, Western Front, Aerial Bombardment and Related Claims, Eritrea's Claims 1, 3, 5, 9–13, 14, 21, 25 and 26, para. 140.

100 Partial Award, Eritrean Civilian Claims 15, 16, 23 and 27–32, para. 11.

101 Ibid., s. D.

102 Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claim, 2. 4, 6, 7, 8 and 12, para. 72.

103 Ibid., Award XIII.

104 Ibid., para. 150.

105 Ibid., para. 157.

106 Partial Award, Eritrean Civilian Claims 15, 16, 23, and 27–32, s. VIII.

107 Ibid., para. 80.

108 Partial Award, Central Front, Eritrea's Claim, 2. 4, 6, 7, 8 and 12, para. 89.

109 Ibid., paras. 88 and 89.

110 Ibid., paras. 19 and 20.

111 Ibid., para. 106.

112 Ibid., para. 110.

113 Partial Award, Central Front Claims, Ethiopia's Claim 5, para. 53.

114 Ibid., para. 53.

115 Partial Award, Western and Eastern Front, Ethiopia's Claims 1 and 3, para. 37.

116 Partial Award, Western Front, Aerial Bombardment and Related Claims, Eritrea's Claims 1, 3, 5, 9–13, 14, 21, 25 and 26, para. 140.

117 Ibid. para. 97.

118 Ibid., para. 135.

119 Ibid., para. 131.

120 Ibid., para. 127.

121 Kidane, supra note 32, at 48.

122 Partial Award, Western Front, Aerial Bombardment and Other Related Claims, Eritrea's Claims 1, 3, 5, 9–13, 14, 21, 25, and 26, para. 142.

123 Ibid., para. 139

124 Ibid., para. 139.

125 Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Decision No. 8, para. 1.

126 Holtzmann and Kristjansdottir, supra note 28, at 148

127 Ibid.

128 Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Decision No. 3: Remedies, issued 24 July 2001.

129 Ibid.

130 Holtzmann and Kristjansdottir, supra note 28, at 156.

131 Letter addressed to the parties, 13 April 2006, quoted in Decision No. 8.

132 Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Decision No 8: Relief to War Victims.

133 Van Den Hout, T., ‘Resolution of International Disputes: The Role of Permanent Court of Arbitration: Reflections on the Centenary of the 1907 Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes’, (2008) 21 Leaden Journal of International Law 643, at 658.

134 ICTY, Prosecutor v. Milorod Krnojelac, Trial Judgement, Case No. IT-97-2S-T, 15 March 2002, para. 476 (‘insofar as it requires the forcible displacement of persons across a national border, expulsion may be treated in the same way as deportation’).

135 Partial Award, Eritrea's Claims 15, 16, 23 and 27–32, paras. 79–106; Partial Award, Civilians Claims, Ethiopia's Claim 5, paras. 128–131.

136 Partial Award, Civilians Claims, Ethiopia's Claim 2, para. 47.

137 Eritrea's Claims 15, 16, 23 and 27–32, para. 79.

138 Ibid.

139 Partial Award, Central Front Claims, Ethiopia's Claim 2, para. 68.

140 Ibid.

141 Ibid., para. 93.

142 Partial Award, Central Front, Ethiopia's Civilian Claim 5, para. 123.

143 The Prosecutor v. Milomir Stakić, Case No. IT-97–24-T, Appeals Chamber, Judgement, 22 March 2006, para. 281.

144 Partial Awards, Western and Eastern Fronts, Ethiopia's Claims 1 and 3, note 19.

145 Partial Award, Jus ad Bellum, Ethiopia's Claims 1–8, IV.

146 Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Decision No. 7: Guidance Regarding Jus Ad Bellum Liability, para. 5.

147 The United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative for the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons has considered the issues of how peace agreements should take into account the particular needs of victims of forced displacement. See W. Kalin, Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, UN Doc. A/HRC/10/13.

* Ph.D. candidate at the Law Faculty, University of Bern, specializing in human rights and humanitarian affairs, and working at the Ethiopian permanent mission in Geneva. The author would like to thank the following individuals for their comments and suggestions: Ambassador Fiseha Yimer, Tomas Snider, Professor Won Kidane, Minelik Alemu, Addis Barega, and Dr Fikrew Kebede. Any remaining errors are the responsibility of the author. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the position of either the government of Ethiopia or the permanent mission.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Leiden Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0922-1565
  • EISSN: 1478-9698
  • URL: /core/journals/leiden-journal-of-international-law
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed