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Responsibility of the Netherlands for the Acts of Dutchbat in Nuhanović and Mustafić: The Continuous Quest for a Tangible Meaning for ‘Effective Control’ in the Context of Peacekeeping

Abstract
Abstract

In Nuhanović and Mustafić (5 July 2011), the Court of Appeal of The Hague held the Netherlands liable under Bosnian torts law in relation to acts of Dutchbat in the days following the fall of Srebrenica. The claims were brought by relatives of victims killed by Mladić's troops after being evicted from the Dutchbat premises, where they had sought refuge. When resorting to international law to attribute the conduct to the Netherlands, the Court shed light on the concrete meaning of ‘effective control’ when a wrongful conduct does not result from direct orders, thereby clarifying some of the questions surrounding the determination of responsibility for conducts in the framework of international organizations.

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1 Hasan Nuhanović v. the Netherlands, Court of Appeal in The Hague, Civil Law Section (5 July 2011), LJN: BR5388; 200.020.174/01; ILDC 1742 (NL 2011), English translation available at http://zoeken.rechtspraak.nl/detailpage.aspx?ljn=BR5388 (hereinafter, Nuhanović); Mehida Mustafić-Mujić, Damir Mustafić, and Alma Mustafić v. the Netherlands, Court of Appeal in The Hague, Civil Law Section (5 July 2011), LJN: BR5386; 200.020.173/01, English translation available at http://zoeken.rechtspraak.nl/detailpage.aspx?ljn=BR5386 (hereinafter, Mustafić).

2 H. N. v. the Netherlands, District Court in The Hague, Civil Law Section (10 September 2008), LJN: BF0181; 265615/HA ZA 06-1671; ILDC 1092 (NL 2008), English translation available at http://zoeken.rechtspraak.nl/detailpage.aspx?ljn=BF0181 (hereinafter, Nuhanović, first instance); M. M.-M., D. M. and A. M. v. the Netherlands, District Court in The Hague, Civil Law Section (10 September 2008), LJN: BF0182; 265618/HA ZA 06-1672, English translation available at http://zoeken.rechtspraak.nl/detailpage.aspx?ljn=BF0182 (hereinafter, Mustafić, first instance).

3 The Court of Appeal has, however, not yet decided on the question of damages, as a time extension was granted to the victims for collecting evidence with regard to one of their claims concerning the replacement of a judge in the District Court trial; see Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 8.5.

4 UN Doc. S/RES/819 (1993).

5 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 2.11.

6 Ibid., para. 2.14.

7 Nuhanović, supra note 1, para. 2.28.

8 Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 2.28.

9 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 2.19.

10 Ibid., para. 5.11.

11 See section 3.2, infra.

12 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 2.18.

13 Ibid., para. 6.7.

14 Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 2.29.

15 Nuhanović, supra note 1, para. 2.29.

16 Nuhanović, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.15; Mustafić, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.17.

17 See note 3, supra, and accompanying text.

18 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.2. In Mustafić, it was also submitted that the state was contractually liable for breach of a ‘protection agreement’ with Mustafić (para. 5.2), but this argument was dismissed, as the existence of such an agreement could not be established (para. 5.3.1).

19 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.5.

20 ILC Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, 2001 YILC, Vol. 53 II (Part Two), at 26; General Assembly Resolution 56/83 of 12 December 2001, Annex, UN Doc. A/RES/56/83, Art. 2.

21 Wet van 11 april 2001 houdende regeling van het conflictenrecht met betrekking tot verbintenissen uit onrechtmatige daad, Stb 2001, 190 (‘Wet conflictenrecht onrechtmatige daad’), Art. 3(1).

22 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, paras. 6.3, 6.4.

23 Ibid., para. 5.5

24 Ibid., para. 5.5: the actions of Dutchbat in Bosnia ‘are not released from the scope of the national law of that country and may in principle give rise to . . . liability resulting from a wrongful act under Bosnian law.’

25 Ibid., para. 6.14.

26 Ibid., para. 6.9.

27 Ibid., para. 6.20.

28 Art. 154(1) of the 1995 ‘Act on Obligations’ of Bosnia and Herzegovina; translation reproduced in Nuhanović and Mustafić, first instance, supra note 2, at note 11.

29 Onrechtmatige daad was translated as ‘tort’ in J. Drion et al., The Netherlands Civil Code, Book 6: The Law of Obligations: Draft Text and Commentary, edited by the Netherlands Ministry of Justice (1977), 44; H. Warendorf et al., The Civil Code of the Netherlands (2009), 677.

30 M. Fabre-Magnan, Les obligations (2004), 755; M. Puech, L'illicéité dans la résponsabilié civile extracontractuelle (1973), 19.

31 H. Deschenaux and P. Tercier, La responsabilité civile (1975), 71.

32 See section 4, infra.

33 The District Court had denied applicability of the European Convention on Human Rights: Nuhanović, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.12.3; Mustafić, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.14.2.

34 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 6.4.

35 Ibid., para. 6.3.

36 Ibid., paras. 5.5, 6.8.

37 Ibid., para. 5.2.

38 Wet conflictenrecht onrechtmatige daad, supra note 21, Art. 7.

39 Nuhanović, supra note 1, para. 5.3; Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.3.2.

41 P. Mayer and V. Heuzé, Droit international privé (2004), 525.

42 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.4.

43 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 6.20, applying Art. 171(1) of the ‘Act on Obligations’ of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

44 Nollkaemper A., ‘Internationally Wrongful Acts in Domestic Courts’, (2007) 101 AJIL 760, at 785.

45 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.4.

46 Nuhanović, supra note 1, para. 5.3; Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.3.2.

47 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.8.

48 ILC Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations, 2011 YILC, Vol. 63 II (Part Two), at 54 (hereinafter, DARIO). The text of the Article remained unchanged from the 2009 Draft Article 6 to which the Court refers: ‘The conduct of an organ of a State or an organ or agent of an international organization that is placed at the disposal of another international organization shall be considered under international law an act of the latter organization if the organization exercises effective control over that conduct.’

49 European Court of Human Right, Behrami and Behrami v. France, App. No. 71412/01, and Saramati v. France, Germany and Norway, App. No. 78166/01 (2 May 2007).

50 ILC Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations with commentaries, 2011 YILC, Vol. 63 II (Part Two), 69, at 87 (hereinafter, ‘DARIO commentaries’), commentary to Art. 7, para. 1; Dannenbaum T., ‘Translating the Standard of Effective Control into a System of Effective Accountability: How Liability Should Be Apportioned for Violations of Human Rights by Member State Troop Contingents Serving as United Nations Peacekeepers’, (2010) 51 Harv. ILJ 113, at 140; Kondoch B., ‘The Responsibility of Peacekeepers, Their Sending States, and International Organizations’, in Gill T. and Fleck D. (eds.), The Handbook of the International Law of Military Operations (2010), 515, at 521; Tsagourias N., ‘The Responsibility of International Organisations for Military Missions’, in Odello M. and Ryszard P. (eds.), International Military Missions and International Law (2011), 245, at 249.

51 Behrami, supra note 49, para. 140.

52 This was unsuccessfully argued by the United Kingdom before the European Court of Human Rights in Al-Jedda (App. No. 27021/08, 7 July 2011); see Milanovic M., ‘Al-Skeini and Al-Jedda in Strasbourg’, (2012) 23 EJIL (forthcoming), available at SSRN, http://ssrn.com/abstract=1917395, at 19.

53 ILC, ‘Responsibility of International Organizations, Comments and Observations from the UN’ (17 February 2011), UN Doc. A/CN.4/637/Add.1 (hereinafter, ‘UN Comments to DARIO’), comments to Draft Art. 6, para. 3.

54 Condorelli L., ‘Le statut des forces de l'ONU et le droit international humanitaire’, (1995) 78 Rivista di diritto internazionale 881, at 886; Dannenbaum, supra note 50, at 148; M. Zwanenburg, Accountability of Peace Support Operations (2005), at 40. The Court likewise noted that soldiers ‘are and will remain employed by the state’, para. 5.10.

55 Orakhelashvili A., ‘Division of Reparation between Responsible Entities’, in Crawford J. et al. (eds.), The Law of International Responsibility (2010), 647, at 654; Tsagourias, supra note 50, at 249.

56 The decisions in Nuhanović and Mustafić are referred to in the DARIO commentaries, supra note 50, commentary to Art. 7, para. 14.

57 Nuhanović, first instance, supra note 2, paras. 4.10, 4.11; Mustafić, first instance, supra note 2, paras. 4.12, 4.13.

58 DARIO commentaries, supra note 50, commentary to Art. 7, para. 9.

59 Ibid., paras. 4, 8.

60 Ibid., para. 4; Giorgio Gaja, Eighth Report on Responsibility of International Organizations by the Special Rapporteur, UN Doc. A/CN.4/640 (2011), para. 34.

61 The UN is reluctant to admit the possibility of not controlling its troops and maintains the view that, as long as the state's authority ‘does not interfere with the United Nations operational control, it is of no relevance for the purpose of attribution’ (UN Comments to DARIO, supra note 53, comments to Draft Art. 6, para. 4).

62 Nuhanović, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.14.1; Mustafić, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.16.1.

63 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.9.

64 B. Amrallah, ‘The International Responsibility of the United Nations for Activities Carried Out by UN Peace-Keeping Forces’, (1976) 32 Revue égyptienne de droit international 57, at 66; Condorelli, supra note 54, at 897; Dannenbaum, supra note 50, at 154; Leck C., ‘International Responsibility in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Command and Control Arrangements and the Attribution of Conduct’, (2009) 10 Melb. JIL 346, at 359; Sorel J.-M., ‘La responsabilité des Nations Unies dans les opérations de maintien de la paix’, (2001) 3 International Law Forum du Droit International 127, at 137.

65 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.7.

66 B. Cathcart, ‘Command and Control in Military Operations’, in Gill and Fleck, supra note 50, 235, at 236; Leck, supra note 64, at 363; Tsagourias, supra note 50, at 249.

67 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.9.

69 See Nollkaemper A., ‘Dual Attribution: Liability of the Netherlands for Conduct of Dutchbat in Srebrenica’, (2011) 9 JICJ 1143, at 1157.

70 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.9 (emphasis added). The Court's language is very close to that used in the argument of Dannenbaum, supra note 50.

71 Dannenbaum, supra note 50, at 156.

72 Ibid., at 157; see also, Leck, supra note 64, suggesting to ‘take into account various factors, such as whether the parties exercised due care in preventing wilful or negligent actions or omissions and the degree to which they did’, at 359.

73 Nuhanović, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.15; Mustafić, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.17.

74 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.9.

75 See, generally, on shared responsibility, www.sharesproject.nl.

76 See, e.g., Dominicé C., ‘Attribution of Conduct to Multiple States and the Implication of a State in the Act of Another State’, in Crawford J. et al. (eds.), The Law of International Responsibility (2010), 281; Besson S., ‘La pluralité d’États responsables: Vers une solidarité internationale?’, (2007) 17 Revue suisse de droit international et de droit européen 13; A. Nollkaemper and D. Jacobs, ‘Shared Responsibility in International Law: A Concept Paper’, (2011) ACIL Research Paper No 2011-07 (SHARES Series); Orakhelashvili A., ‘Division of Reparation between Responsible Entities’, in Crawford J. et al. (eds.), The Law of International Responsibility (2010), 647, at 654; Talmon S., ‘A Plurality of Responsible Actors: International Responsibility for Acts of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq’, in Shiner P. and Williams A. (eds.), The Iraq War and International Law (2008), 185.

77 Bell C., ‘Reassessing Multiple Attribution: The International Law Commission and the Behrami and Saramati Decision’, (2010) 42 NYUJILP 501; Dannenbaum, supra note 50; Kondoch, supra note 50, at 593; Larsen K., ‘Attribution of Conduct in Peace Operations: The “Ultimate Authority and Control” Test’, (2008) 19 EJIL 509, at 518; Leck, supra note 64, at 363; Tsagourias, supra note 50, at 253; Zwanenburg, supra note 54, at 103.

78 Dannenbaum, supra note 50, at 157.

79 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.11.

80 Ibid., paras. 5.11, 5.17.

81 Ibid., para. 5.17.

82 Ibid., paras. 5.12, 5.13.

83 Ibid., para. 5.13.

84 Ibid., paras. 5.11, 5.12.

85 Ibid., para. 5.12.

86 Ibid., para. 5.18.

87 Ibid., para. 5.13.

88 Ibid., para. 5.15.

89 Ibid., para. 5.18.

90 Ibid., para. 5.18.

91 Ibid., para. 5.18.

92 Ibid., para. 5.18.

93 Ibid., para. 5.18.

94 Ibid., para. 5.20.

95 Dannenbaum, supra note 50, at 141; see also Leck, supra note 64, at 348.

96 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 6.1.

97 Ibid., para. 5.19.

98 Ibid., para. 5.18.

100 Ibid.

101 See also Orakhelashvili, supra note 55, at 654: ‘a substantial degree of factual control over the contingent or the relevant situation allows identifying a link of cause-and-effect between the entity and the wrongful act.’

102 Nuhanović and Mustafić, para. 5.19.

103 See section 2.1, supra.

104 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 6.3.

105 Ibid., para. 6.14: ‘Although the State disputes that Dutchbat had the obligation to take [the victims of the cases] along to a safe area, in establishing the causal relationship it is not relevant – also under Bosnian law – whether the State had the obligation to take [them] to a safe area, but to find out what would have happened if the State had not acted wrongfully.’

106 Ibid., para. 6.22.

107 Ibid., para. 6.11.

108 Ibid., paras. 6.7, 6.11.

109 Ibid., para. 2.27.

110 Nuhanović, supra note 1, para. 6.20.

111 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 6.10.

112 Ibid., para. 6.18.

113 Ibid., para. 6.11.

114 Ibid., para. 6.14.

115 Ibid., para. 6.5.

116 Ibid., para. 6.14.

117 Nuhanović, supra note 1, para. 6.20.

118 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 6.8.

119 Ibid., para. 6.11.

120 Ibid.

121 Ibid., para. 5.19.

122 Nuhanović, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.14.6; Mustafić, first instance, supra note 2, para. 4.16.6.

123 Dannenbaum, supra note 50, at 124.

124 Ibid., at 114.

125 Leck, supra note 64, at 363.

126 Dannenbaum, supra note 50, at 157.

127 Nuhanović and Mustafić, supra note 1, para. 5.18.

128 Ibid., para. 6.21.

129 See A. Nollkaemper, ‘Issues of Shared Responsibility before the International Court of Justice’, (2011) ACIL Research Paper No 2011–01 (SHARES Series).

130 I. Brownlie, System of the Law of Nations, Part I: State Responsibility (1983), 189; Noyes J. and Smith B., ‘State Responsibility and the Principle of Joint and Several Liability’, (1988) 13 Yale JIL 225, at 225.

131 Dannenbaum, supra note 50, at 169; Leck, supra note 64, at 363; Orakhelashvili, supra note 55.

132 See International Tin Council case, [1990] 2 AC 418, at 480: Lord Templeman expressed the view that ‘[a]n international law or a domestic law which imposed and enforced joint and several liability on 23 sovereign states without imposing and enforcing contribution between those states would be devoid of logic and justice’.

133 Amrallah, supra note 64, at 58.

134 Orakhelashvili, supra note 55, at 654.

* PhD candidate, Amsterdam Center for International Law, University of Amsterdam [].

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