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Dutch Courts and Srebrenica: Ascribing Responsibilities and Defining Legally Relevant Relationships

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2013

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This contribution addresses the legal developments leading up to two judgments rendered by the Dutch Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal in The Hague in two parallel litigations related to the tragic events in Srebrenica. Throughout these two proceedings, the Dutch judiciary has gradually been framing, in terms of law, the relationship between the Dutch UN battalion and the events in Srebrenica. In so doing, the proceedings before the Dutch courts add to the broader debate concerning the responsibilities – and the appropriate allocation thereof – of UN peacekeeping forces and contributing states. Owing to the underlying claims and the nature of the respondents, the courts in both cases have addressed two distinct legal issues. In Mustafić/Nuhanović, acts of Dutch soldiers operating under UN flag were attributed to the Netherlands, albeit on very narrow grounds, thereby limiting the possible spin-off of the judgment with respect to other proceedings. In the last stage of the Mothers of Srebrenica litigation where the UN was alleged to be responsible for failing to prevent genocide, immunity was upheld in its most absolute form by the Dutch Supreme Court. This contribution provides an overview of the procedural history of both cases and reflects on the main reasoning of the courts and the possible ramifications thereof.

Part II Dutch Practice in International Law
Copyright © T.M.C. Asser Instituut and the Authors 2013 

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