Home » Articles » Superior Responsibility of Civilians for International Crimes Committed in Civilian Settings

Superior Responsibility of Civilians for International Crimes Committed in Civilian Settings

PDF · Yaël Ronen · Jul-6-2012 · 43 VAND. J. TRANSNAT'L L. 313 (2010)

This Article examines the notion of superior responsibility of civilians for international crimes committed in civilian settings.  The doctrine of superior responsibility grew out of the military doctrine of command responsibility, and its evolution is informed by this origin.  Jurisprudence and academic writers emphasize that the doctrine is applicable to civilian superiors of military or paramilitary organizations, but there has never been a detailed analysis of the doctrine’s relevance and applicability in civilian settings.  The Article argues that the claim that customary international law extends the doctrine of superior responsibility to civilians, let alone in civilian settings, is inaccurate.  In judicial practice, including recent rulings, civilians have rarely been convicted under the doctrine even as leaders of military organizations, and when they have, these convictions were generally secondary to their direct responsibility.  The Article elaborates various challenges to the application of the doctrine in civilian settings, particularly in the determination of the existence of a superior–subordinate relationship.  Despite the difficulties in transposing the doctrine to the civilian sphere, the Article argues that, as a matter of policy, civilians should also be subject to the doctrine.  It also contends that the normative distinctions between civilians and military superiors, today entrenched in Article 28 of the International Criminal Court Statute, are neither absolutely necessary nor practicable.




Leave a Reply

ExpressO Top 10 Law Review

ANNOUNCEMENTS

We are pleased to announce the 2014-2015 Board of Editors and 2014-2015 Editorial Staff Members.

Please join us in congratulating the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 2013-2014 Annual Award Winners.

Coming up:

The Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law invites you to its 2015 Symposium, This is Not a Drill: Confronting Legal Issues in the Wake of International Disasters.

Recent and dire international disasters, both environmental and humanitarian, have left legacies not only of destruction and destitution, but also of an uncertain legal landscape. The Symposium will address current and pressing international-disaster-response topics. These will include environmental effects, disaster assistance, humanitarian assistance, and criminal processes and sanctions in the wake of various types of international disasters. Symposium participants will include leading scholars from across the country.

The 2015 Symposium will take place on Friday, February 13, 2015 at Vanderbilt Law School, 131 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203. A detailed schedule will be available soon.

For information on the 2015 Symposium, as well as past symposia hosted by the Journal, please visit the Symposium page.

Explore Other Vanderbilt Law Resources