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The defence of superior orders: does it still exist ?

31-12-2000 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 840, by Geneviève Dufour

 Abstract of the article     "La défense d’ordres supérieurs existe-t-elle vraiment ?"  

The defence of superior orders would appear to be a relatively easy concept to define. Despite its apparent simplicity, however, it causes more confusion among legal experts than one would think. In fact, this defence is based on obedience to the orders of a government or a superior, whether military or civilian. Some people consider it as a justification, others as a mitigating circumstance, others yet as both. In the opinion of the author the debate is purely theoretical, however, since in practice the defence of superior orders is no longer used on its own.