Netherlands International Law Review


Civilian Superior Responsibility in the Kordic Case

Maria Nybondas  1

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With Miloševic on trial, the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (hereinafter: ICTY) continues as does the need to solve insufficiently answered questions of international law. As most of the accused used to hold positions of high authority in the military or in the civil sphere, the doctrine of superior responsibility has been considered in several of the cases decided by the Tribunal. These cases, together with cases decided by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (hereinafter: ICTR), have led to a discussion of whether also civilian superiors can incur responsibility under the doctrine of superior responsibility. Namely, the doctrine used to be applied more in the military sphere to commanders that were part of the hierarchical command structure, and was as such of less importance to considerations of responsibility of non-military leaders.

Key Words: humanitarian law; international criminal law; ICC; Kordic Case; superior responsibility; non-superior responsibility; superior-subordinate relationship.


1 LL M (University of Utrecht), Researcher, T.M.C. Asser Instituut, The Hague, the Netherlands. The author would like to thank Professor T.D. Gill, University of Utrecht, for his tireless support and supervision and Mr Morten Bergsmo, Senior Legal Adviser (International Law), ICC, whose thought-provoking remarks have been, and always are, invaluable.