Classification of Armed Conflict in the former Yugoslavia: <i>Nicaragua's</i> Fallout*

Theodor Meron

in War Crimes Law Comes of Age

Published in print January 1999 | ISBN: 9780198268567
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683534 | DOI:
Classification of Armed Conflict in the former Yugoslavia: Nicaragua's Fallout*

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In its opinion and judgement of May 7, 1997, in Prosecutor v. Tadíc the trial chamber of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Former Yugoslavia since 1991 faced the question of whether the conflict in Bosnia–Herzegovina was an international armed conflict. If so, the grave breaches provisions of the Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War would become applicable, in addition to other provisions of international humanitarian law applying to such armed conflicts. In resolving that question, the majority of the trial chamber sought guidance in the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Nicaragua case. That resort was inappropriate because the Nicaragua case dealt with quite a different question: whether, for legal purposes, the contras either constituted an organ of the United States Government or were acting on its behalf. If so, their acts could be attributed to the United States for purposes of state responsibility. The pending appeals of the trial chamber's decision offer the appeals chamber a unique opportunity to correct the course.

Keywords: criminal tribunals; war crimes; former Yugoslavia; armed conflict

Chapter.  4473 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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