The Court's ruling on remedy, however, takes much from this conclusion. Can it be that a state's failure to prevent genocide -- long known as the crime of crimes -- incurs no duty to redress genocide's victims? That if the author of genocide is a nonstate actor, international law affords a victim state no reparations for its loss?
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Liable to wonder
What to make of Monday's ruling by the International Court of Justice in Bosnia v. Serbia? President Rosalyn Higgins, the only woman ever to have served on the 62-year-old World Court, announced the Court's conclusion: Serbia is liable for having failed to prevent genocide at Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops massacred more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men in July 1995, but Serbia did not itself committed genocide. At first blush the decision might seem protective, for it endorses view that not only positive action, but also the failure to act, implicates state responsibility. (The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide makes such a finding particularly appropriate with regard to that crime, as our colleague William A. Schabas has detailed in ch. 10 of his Genocide in International Law.)