Monday, March 29, 2010

On March 29

On this day in ...
... 1919, the Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on Enforcement of Penalties, chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing (below left) and including 14 other men from 10 countries, presented its Report to the Preliminary Peace Conference convened at the end of World War I, as we've posted here, here, and here. (photo credit) Nearly 80 years later, in Prosecutor v. Delalić (1998), ¶¶ 336-37, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia discussed a key aspect of this report:
[I]t is often suggested that the roots of the modern doctrine of command responsibility may be found in the Hague Conventions of 1907. It was not until the end of the First World War, however, that the notion of individual criminal responsibility for failure to take the necessary measures to prevent or to repress breaches of the laws of armed conflict was given explicit expression in an international context. In its report presented to the Preliminary Peace Conference in 1919, the International Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on Enforcement of Penalties recommended that a tribunal be established for the prosecution of, inter alia, all those who, "ordered, or with knowledge thereof and with power to intervene, abstained from preventing or taking measures to prevent, putting an end to or repressing violations of the laws or customs of war."
Such a tribunal was never realised, however, and it was only in the aftermath of the Second World War that the doctrine of command responsibility for failure to act received its first judicial recognition in an international context.

(Prior March 29 posts are here, here, and here)

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