Will Mothers of Srebrenica Dutch case impact peacekeeping?

08 October 2014 by Stephanie van den Berg

A recent ruling by a Netherlands court on the responsibilities of peacekeepers has implications for future operations worldwide, says researcher Lenneke Sprik, who specializes in the laws governing peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions.

In July, a district court in The Hague held the Dutch peacekeepers operating in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica during the 1995 genocide partially liable for the failure to protect some 300 Muslim men who sought refuge on their compound [IJT-164]. Dutchbat should have known the men would be murdered if deported from the UN compound, the court found. In all, Bosnian Serb troops killed nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the genocide that followed the fall of the UN ‘safe area’. 

Why could the Mothers of Srebrenica v the Netherlands have such impact?

Lenneke Sprik (LS): It is one of the first cases that deal with the responsibility of the state for peacekeeping failures. There are no precedents yet. If other states follow the Dutch approach at some point, it might end up being state practice that might influence international law.

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