Command responsibility and failure to act
31-10-2013 Legal Fact Sheet
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International humanitarian law provides a system for repressing violations of its rules based on the individual criminal responsibility of those responsible. The violations can also result from a failure to act. In armed conflict situations, armed forces or groups are generally placed under a command that is responsible for the conduct of subordinates. Accordingly, in order to make the repression system effective, superiors should be held individually responsible when they fail to take proper measures to prevent their subordinates from committing serious violations of International humanitarian law. It is the duty of States to incorporate punishment for the commander’s failure to act into their domestic legislation.