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Refusal to obey orders of an obviously criminal nature: Providing for a procedure available to subordinates

31-03-2002 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 845, by Jacques Verhaegen

 Abstract of the article "   Le refus d'obéissance aux ordres manifestement criminels  "  


The XIVth Congress of the International Society of Military Law and the Law of War, held in Athens in May 1997, adopted the following recommendation : “Disciplinary regulations should provide for a procedure allowing subordinates to exercise, with no prejudice to themselves and without breaching discipline, their right and duty not to obey orders whose execution would obviously lead to the commission of a war crime.”

In the year 2000, the Belgian Seminar of Military Law and the Law of War set up a working group with the task of preparing a draft text that would give effect to this recommendation and could be incorporated in the Belgian army’s disciplinary regulations.