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Some considerations on command responsibility and criminal liability

30-06-2008 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 870, by Jamie Allan Williamson

Under international humanitarian law, commanders have been entrusted with the task of ensuring respect for that body of law by their subordinates. The following article reviews some of the issues arising from the application and development of this form of responsibility, from both a practical and legal perspective.

   

Jamie A. Williamson is ICRC Regional Legal Advisor. 
 
Abstract 
Under international humanitarian law commanders have been entrusted with the task of ensuring respect for that body of law by their subordinates. This responsibility includes not only the training in IHL of those under their command, but also the taking of necessary measures to prevent or punish subordinates committing violations of IHL. Failure by a commander to do so will give rise to criminal liability, often termed superior responsibility. The following article reviews some of the issues arising from the application and development of this form of responsibility, from both a practical and a legal perspective.  


 
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