Post-conflict justice : extending international criminal responsibility to non-state entities
International humanitarian law and non-state actors : debates, law and practice
The Hague : Asser Press, 2020
Bibliography : p. 258-262
With the proliferation of non-international armed conflicts, transitional justice has gained increased relevance as a range of judicial mechanisms aimed at punishing the wrongdoers while also aiming to reconcile nations torn by civil wars. In the aftermath of hostilities between States and non-state armed groups or between two or more non-state actors (NSAs), international law obliges the former to prosecute participants in hostilities who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. As far as conventional wisdom goes, criminal responsibility is only attendant to individual perpetrators, but a recent pronouncement by the Special Tribunal of Lebanon (STL), along with development in national law targeting entities, other than States, might be changing this paradigm. Building on arguments proffered in other chapters that NSAs have obligations under international law, this chapter argues that in addition to trying individual perpetrators, international criminal jurisdiction should also extend to non-state armed groups, political parties and other collectives that have orchestrated, directed or executed atrocities through their agents. The chapter first analyses, along the lines of the STL, whether liability of collective entities has become a general principle of international law. It then argues that operationalizing international criminal responsibility of NSAs might serve several important transitional justice objectives.