UN Granted Immunity for Srebrenica

Over on Opinio Juris, an international law blog which I read religiously, I caught the news today of a Dutch court of appeals backing an earlier ruling which has granted immunity to the United Nations over the Srebrenica massacre, meaning that the organization cannot be sued for its failure to protect Bosnian citizens. 

Because we are presently advocating in a trial before an internal United Nations tribunal, I have asked my esteemed colleague Geert Jan Alexander Knoops to provide some commentary.  These initial comments are clearly tentative, but we will revisit this subject again in early May.

“The Ruling of the High Court at the Hague on the claim of theSrebrenica mothers again acknowledges the immunity of the UN as aninternational body in criminal and civil sense.

In the samevein, this begs the questionas to whether it is now time to reform this UN system. In the absence ofany (internal) form of judicial review on the conduct of the UN, worldcitizens who can become victim of UN operations which go againstinternational law or are subjected to personal damage to be attributedto the UN, are without any legal recourse. Moreover, individual troopcontributing States (to UN operations) can shield behind the immunityenjoyed by the UN. In a time frame whereby State immunities erase underICL principles, this notion merits reconsideration.”

GJ Alexander KnoopsProfessor of international Criminal Law