Three main arguments may explain why few cases in international (and national) criminal law include charges for attacks against civilians or civilian objects. The law may not be sufficiently clear, there may be a lack of evidence or the selection of military targets may be based on mainly subjective considerations, which make it very hard to establish individual culpability. This article examines some legal and practical reasons for the difficulties the prosecutor faces when trying to charge individuals with such crimes. Although there are few examples, the ICTY has shown that it is generally possible to hold individuals responsible for such crimes.
This article examines the obligations of armed groups to impose sanctions and their possibilities for doing so. It discusses characteristics of armed groups that influence their willingness and ability to comply with IHL and to punish those of their members who commit violations and it analyses the different methods of punishment, including disciplinary sanctions, penal sanctions imposed by the State and penal sanctions imposed by the group itself.