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Reporter(s)

Bérénice Boutin

Netherlands (Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs) v Nuhanović, Final appeal judgment, ECLI/NL/HR/2013/BZ9225, ILDC 2061 (NL 2013), 12/03324, 6th September 2013, Netherlands; Supreme Court [HR]

Parties:
Netherlands (Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs) (Netherlands [nl])
Hasan Nuhanović (Bosnia and Herzegovina [ba])
Judges/Arbitrators:
FB Bakels (President); CA Streefkerk; MA Loth; CE Drion; MV Polak
Procedural Stage:
Final appeal judgment
Previous Procedural Stage(s):
First instance judgment; HN v Netherlands (Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs), LJN: BF0181/265615; ILDC 1092 (NL 2008), 10 September 2008Appeal judgment; Nuhanović v Netherlands, LJN: BR5388; ILDC 1742 (NL 2011), 5 July 2011
Related Development(s):
Final appeal judgment; Mustafić v Netherlands, ECLI/NL/HR/2013/BZ9228, 6 September 2013 (identical judgment in a case involving a comparable situation)
Subject(s):
Human rights — International organizations, attribution — United Nations (UN) — Attribution — Responsibility of states — Extraterritorial application of treaties — Peace keeping
Core Issue(s):
Whether the forced removal of two individuals by the Dutch contingent to the United Nations Protection Force from a compound where it was stationed was attributable to the Dutch state under international law.
Whether the international human rights obligations of the Dutch state were applicable to its extraterritorial military activities.

Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts is edited by:

Professor André Nollkaemper, University of Amsterdam and  August Reinisch, University of Vienna.

Facts

F1  ‘Dutchbat’ was a Dutch contingent which was part of the United Nations Protection Force (‘UNPROFOR’) in charge of protecting the safe area of Srebrenica during the Balkan War. Dutchbat units were stationed in a compound near the city of Srebrenica. In July 1995, the Bosnian-Serb army, under the command of General Mladic, conducted an attack on the Srebrenica enclave. About 32,000 civilians fled the city and sought refuge in the compound.

F2  Dutchbat admitted more than 5,000 refugees into the compound, while a larger number had to stay outside. After Srebrenica was lost, the Dutch government and UNPROFOR commanders agreed to evacuate the compound and withdraw forces. Dutchbat commander Karremans met with Mladic to attempt to negotiate the safe evacuation of the refugees. The Bosnian-Serb army started to evacuate refugees by bus. The Dutchbat troops received reports that the Bosnian-Serbs were committing crimes against the male refugees in particular.

F3  Hasan Nuhanović was a United Nations (‘UN’) interpreter working for Dutchbat. His father Ibro, mother Nasiha, and brother Muhamed were among the refugees who had sought refuge and were admitted into the compound. Hasan, who had a UN pass, was included on a list of local personnel who were allowed to be evacuated along with Dutchbat. His relatives were not on this list; his attempts to get them included were refused. Muhamed and Nasiha were forced to leave the compound. Ibro was allowed to stay but chose to leave with his son and wife. All were taken away by the Bosnian-Serbs and murdered.

F4  Hasan Nuhanović brought an action before the District Court of the Hague seeking a declaratory ruling that the Netherlands was responsible for the damage suffered by his relatives and himself on the grounds of wrongful conduct. The District Court upheld the Netherlands’ argument that the conduct of Dutchbat was attributable exclusively to the United Nations (‘UN’) and rejected the claim.

F5  The Hague Court of Appeal overturned the decision and held the Netherlands responsible for the death of Ibro and Muhamed Nuhanović. The Court of Appeal found that, during the transitional period of evacuation, the Netherlands had been exercising effective control over the conduct of Dutchbat. It considered it ‘generally accepted that more than one party [could] have effective control’ and did not enquire whether the UN also had effective control over the conduct of Dutchbat. On the question of wrongfulness, it ruled that forcing the two men to leave while knowing the risks to which they would be exposed was unlawful under both Bosnian law and international human rights law. Nasiha had faced less risk and her removal was not wrongful.

F6  The Netherlands appealed in cassation against the Court of Appeal decision, arguing that the disputed conduct was not attributable to the state and was not wrongful. Concerning attribution, it argued that Dutchbat was an organ of the UN, and as such its conduct should, ‘in principle, always [have been] attributed’ to the UN pursuant to Article 6 of the Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations, Report of the International Law Commission on the Work of its Sixty-Third Session, UN Doc A/66/10 and Add 1, GAOR 66th Session Suppl No 10, chap V, 54–68, UN General Assembly, 2011 (‘ARIO’). Further, it submitted that the possibility of multiple attribution was excluded in international law, notably under the test of effective control, and that a state could only have effective control over the conduct of its contingent if it issued direct orders contradicting the UN’s instructions. The Netherlands also argued that, in the circumstances of the case, it had not had effective control over the impugned conduct.

F7  Concerning wrongfulness, the Netherlands argued that it could not be assessed with regard to the human rights enshrined in Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (4 November 1950) 213 UNTS 222; 312 ETS 5, entered into force on 3 September 1953 (‘European Convention on Human Rights’, ‘ECHR’) and Articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (16 December 1966) 999 UNTS 171, entered into force 23 March 1976 (‘ICCPR’), because the Netherlands did not have extraterritorial jurisdiction in the compound. Finally, the Netherlands submitted that judicial restraint should have been favoured when considering responsibility for military actions in a ‘war situation’.

Held

H1  The question of whether the conduct of Dutchbat was attributable to the Netherlands was to be answered solely in accordance with international law, in particular the Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, Report of the International Law Commission on its Fifty-Third Session, UN Doc A/56/10, GAOR 56th session, Supp No 10, chap IV, 26–30, UN General Assembly, 2001 (‘ARS’) and the ARIO. (paragraphs 3.6.2, 3.7)

H2  Dutchbat was placed at the disposal of the UN by the Netherlands, its conduct was therefore to be attributed pursuant to Article 7 of the ARIO and not Article 6 of the ARIO. According to the International Law Commission’s (‘ILC’) Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations, with commentaries, Report of the International Law Commission on the Work of its Sixty-Third Session, UN Doc A/66/10 and Add 1, GAOR 66th Session Suppl No 10, chap V, 69–172, UN General Assembly, 2011 (‘ARIO commentaries’), Article 7 of the ARIO applied when a state transferred command over its troops to the UN, but retained full ‘organic command’ in the form of disciplinary powers and criminal jurisdiction. (paragraph 3.10.2)

H3  Dual attribution of conduct between a state and an international organization was not precluded under international law. According to the ARIO commentaries, Articles 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the ARIO left open the possibility of attributing conduct to both an international organization and a state. (paragraph 3.9.4) In particular, Article 7 of the ARIO, in conjunction with Article 48 of the ARIO, allowed multiple attribution of the same conduct. Therefore, it was not necessary to inquire whether the UN had effective control, as it would not mean that this control was exclusive. (paragraph 3.11.2)

H4  The exercise of effective control over peacekeepers by a state was not limited to situations where it ‘countermanded the command structure of the United Nations by giving instructions’ or ‘exercised operational command independently’. Rather, according to the ARIO commentaries, Article 7 of the ARIO required the ascertainment of whether the state or the international organization had ‘factual control over the specific conduct’, taking account of ‘all factual circumstances and the special context of the case’. (paragraph 3.11.3)

H5  The Netherlands had been exercising effective control over the disputed conduct of Dutchbat. Since the UN and the Netherlands had mutually agreed to terminate the mission after it failed, the circumstances surrounding the conduct differed from the ‘normal situation’ of troops that had been contributed to the UN. During this transitional period, the Dutch state had been closely involved in the operation of Dutchbat, and had given instructions on the way to carry out the evacuation. The Netherlands had ‘actually exercised’ control over Dutchbat, and could have prevented the forced removal of the victims. (paragraph 3.12.2) The conduct of Dutchbat was thus attributable to the Netherlands, and thereby qualified as conduct of the state. (paragraph 3.13)

H6  Under Bosnian torts law—which was applicable pursuant to Dutch private international law—the Netherlands had acted wrongfully by forcing Muhamed Nuhanović and hence Ibro Nuhanović to leave the compound. The forced removal of Muhamed from the compound caused his death, but also caused the departure and death of Ibro. The Netherlands was therefore responsible for the damage suffered by Hasan as a result of the death of his brother and father. (paragraph 3.15.3)

H7  The wrongfulness of the conduct had been independently established under Bosnian law, and thus it was not necessary to enquire into the wrongfulness under international law. (paragraph 3.15.5) It could nonetheless be ‘observe[d], by way of obiter dictum’, that the conduct of the Dutch state had been in breach of its applicable human rights obligations. (paragraph 3.16) Under the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’), the ECHR could, in limited circumstances, apply extraterritorially (Al Skeini and ors v United Kingdom, Judgment, App no 55721/07, 7 July 2011). (paragraph 3.17.2) The Netherlands had been formally entitled to exercise jurisdiction over the area by the Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Status of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (15 May 1993) 1722 UNTS 77, entered into force 15 May 1993 (‘SOFA’), and had not been factually prevented from exercising it, as the Bosnian-Serb army had respected its authority. Therefore, ‘the state, through Dutchbat, was actually able to ensure compliance’ with human rights. (paragraph 3.17.3)

H8  Judicial restraint in assessing the responsibility of states for the conduct of soldiers involved in peace operations had no basis in human rights treaties or customary international law, and was unacceptable. The possible effect on the willingness of states to contribute troops should not have prevented judicial review as long as the court was taking account of the war situation. (paragraph 3.18.3)

Date of Report: 08 November 2013
Reporter(s):
Bérénice Boutin

Analysis

A1  In this highly anticipated decision, the Dutch Supreme Court confirmed that, in the specific circumstances of this case, the Netherlands was responsible for the conduct of Dutchbat in Srebrenica. This decision was remarkable both for the theoretical development and the concrete implementation of international responsibility in peace operations, because it decided on a number of issues central to the debate on the responsibility of states and international organizations for the conduct of peacekeepers, while ultimately providing a remedy to some victims.

A2  Given the limited grounds of review in cassation, the Supreme Court did not re-examine the facts. Relying heavily on the ARIO commentaries, it upheld—with the value attached to highest domestic courts decisions—the findings of the Court of Appeal concerning the attribution of the conduct of peacekeepers.

A3  In previous instances, Nuhanović had argued that Bosnian law was exclusively applicable to the question of attribution, probably to circumvent the application of the test of ‘ultimate authority and control’ developed by the ECtHR in Behrami and Behrami v France, and Saramati v France, Germany and Norway, Admissibility decision, App no 71412/01 and App no 78166/0 ECHR, 2 May 2007, [51], which would have led to an attribution to the UN. Since the Hague Court of Appeal had not been inclined to follow this widely criticized decision, Nuhanović did not challenge the application of international law in cassation. (paragraph 3.6.2)

A4  In line with the ILC, the Supreme Court first confirmed that Article 7 of the ARIO applied to the attribution of conduct of troops placed at the disposal of an international organization. (paragraph 3.10.2) This finding weakened the position—long maintained by the UN, adopted by the Netherlands in this case, and refuted by the ILC—that peacekeeping missions are UN subsidiary organs, which conduct was attributed under Article 6 of the ARIO.

A5  Second, the Supreme Court adopted an unequivocal and reasoned recognition of the possibility of multiple attribution within the ILC theoretical framework. While the Court of Appeal had assumed, without justification, that the possibility of multiple attribution was ‘generally accepted’ (Nuhanović v Netherlands, Appeal judgment, LJN: BR5388 [5.9]; ILDC 1742 (NL 2011), 5 July 2011 (‘Nuhanović Appeal judgment’), the Supreme Court analysed the issue in terms of independent and non-exclusive responsibility, in line with the ARIO commentaries. By holding that the responsibility of the Netherlands could be determined independently without regard to the responsibility of the UN, and that the potential attribution of the conduct to the UN did not mean that the UN would be exclusively responsible, it contributed to the progressive acceptance that the system of international responsibility allows multiple attribution. (paragraph 3.11.2)

A6  Third, the Supreme Court confirmed the interpretation of the test of effective control upheld in appeal, as covering more than direct contradictory orders. (paragraph 3.11.3) This clarifies that the notion of control in Article 7 of the ARIO is to be distinguished from the rule codified in Article 8 of the ASR, which was interpreted by the International Court of Justice (‘ICJ’) in Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua,Nicaragua v United States, Judgment, Merits, ICJ GL No 70, [1986] ICJ Rep 14, ICGJ 112 (ICJ 1986), 27 June 1986 as requiring direct orders.

A7  The Supreme Court mentioned, without elaborating upon, the notion of ‘power to prevent’ developed by the Court of Appeal in the Nuhanović Appeal judgment. (paragraph 3.12.2) It seems that the Supreme Court found the criteria of the capacity of the Netherlands to prevent Dutchbat’s conduct to be dubious and in any case, not decisive. The critical element was the actual control exercised by the state through instructions on how to carry out the evacuation.

A8  Overall, the Supreme Court’s interpretation was sound, and progressive enough to envisage attribution to the state of the acts of peacekeepers when warranted. It was not unreasonable, as states were only to be found responsible if they actually exercised control. By overlooking the notion of ‘power to prevent’, the Supreme Court refrained from upholding that a state would be responsible for every wrong it could have hypothetically prevented. Rather, it analysed whether the acts and omissions of the Dutch state were actually relevant in controlling the conduct of Dutchbat. In the present case, it was not unreasonable to hold that the close and direct involvement of the Netherlands during the evacuation had been concretely providing it with effective control.

A9  The facts in this case were very specific, and the findings could not automatically apply to other victims of Srebrenica. However, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of effective control was not tied to the facts of the case and could apply to other factual scenarios. (paragraph 3.11.3) Indeed, in a ‘normal’ peacekeeping situation, the question would also be whether a state actually exercised control, for instance when approving targets. The precise circumstances in which the control formally retained or factually exercised by a state would amount to effective control during ordinary phases of military operations remained unclear.

A10  One of the most interesting parts of this decision was formulated in an obiter dictum‎. The Supreme Court did not need to address wrongfulness under international law, but chose to clarify its views on the extraterritorial applicability of human rights and judicial restraint. Seemingly addressing circumspect domestic and regional courts, it asserted that states undertaking peace operations were not alleviated from their international obligations, and that conduct deviating from these standards should be addressed in courts. (paragraph 3.18.3)

A11  Although a firm stance on the extraterritorial applicability of human rights treaties was welcomed, it was unclear why the Supreme Court justified the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the Netherlands on the basis of the provisions of the SOFA, which, unlike what the Court considered, did not comport a formal transfer of jurisdiction to the UN or contributing states. (paragraph 3.17.3) The idea behind the Supreme Court’s reasoning appeared to be that a formal entitlement to exercise jurisdiction combined with the actual capacity of exercising it resulted in the applicability of human rights obligations of the state.

A12  The decision was not subject to appeal.

Date of Analysis: 08 November 2013
Analysis by: Bérénice Boutin

Instruments cited in the full text of this decision:

International

Charter of the United Nations (26 June 1945) 59 Stat 1031; TS 993; 3 Bevans 1153, entered into force 24 October 1945, Chapter VII

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (4 November 1950) 213 UNTS 222; 312 ETS 5, entered into force on 3 September 1953, Articles 1, 2, 3

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (16 December 1966) 999 UNTS 171, entered into force 23 March 1976, Articles 2, 6, 7

UNSC Resolution 819, UN Doc S/RES/819, UN Security Council, 16 April 1993

Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Status of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (15 May 1993) 1722 UNTS 77, entered into force 15 May 1993

Resolution 836, UN Doc S/RES/836, UN Security Council, 4 June 1993

Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, Report of the International Law Commission on its Fifty-Third Session, UN Doc A/56/10, GAOR 56th session, Supp No 10, UN General Assembly, 2001, Articles 4, 8

Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations, Report of the International Law Commission on the Work of its Sixty-Third Session, UN Doc A/66/10 and Add 1, GAOR 66th Session Supp No 10, UN General Assembly, 2011, Articles 6, 7, 48

Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations, with commentaries, Report of the International Law Commission on the Work of its Sixty-Third Session, UN Doc A/66/10 and Add 1, GAOR 66th Session Suppl No 10, chap V, 69–172, UN General Assembly, 2011

Cases cited in the full text of this decision:

To access full citation information for this document, see the Oxford Law Citator record

Decision - English translation

. The proceedings before the courts of fact

For an account of the course of the proceedings before the courts of fact, the Supreme Court would refer to the following documents:

  1. a)  the judgment in case 265618/HA ZA 06-1671 of The Hague District Court of 10 September 2008;

  2. b)  the judgments in case 200.020.174/01 of The Hague Court of Appeal of 5 July 2011 and 26 June 2012.

The judgments of the Court of Appeal have been attached to this judgment.

. The cassation proceedings

The State has appealed in cassation against the judgments of the Court of Appeal of 5 July 2011 and 26 June 2012. The notice of appeal in cassation has been attached to this judgment and forms part of it.

Nuhanović has applied for the appeal to be dismissed.

The case has been pleaded orally on behalf of the parties by their counsel and also by L. Zegveld, attorney-at-law in Amsterdam, on behalf of Nuhanović.

In his advisory opinion Advocate-General P. Vlas has recommended that the appeal be dismissed.

Houtzagers, counsel for the State, has responded to this advisory opinion by letter of 31 May 2013. Tjittes and Den Dekker, counsel for Nuhanović, have also commented on this opinion by letter of 31 May 2013.

. Assessment of the grounds of appeal in cassation

3.1  This case concerns events that occurred shortly after the fall of the Srebrenica enclave on 11 July 1995.

Hasan Nuhanović (below: Nuhanović) was in the employment of the United Nations. He worked as an interpreter at the compound in Potočari where Dutchbat was stationed. He had a UN pass and was on the list of local personnel who could be evacuated with Dutchbat. After the fall of the enclave his father Ibro, mother Nasiha and brother Muhamed had sought refuge in the compound. They were not on the list of local personnel and were informed on 13 July 1995 that they had to leave the compound. Shortly afterwards they were murdered by the Bosnian-Serb army or related paramilitary groups. Nuhanović is holding the State responsible for the harmful consequences. According to Nuhanović, Dutchbat acted wrongfully by not taking the members of his family with them when the Dutch battalion was evacuated, and instead sending them away from the compound.

The proceedings before the Supreme Court turn on two central issues: (i) Can Dutchbat’s conduct be attributed to the State? And (ii) Was Dutchbat’s conduct wrongful?

3.2  In the cassation proceedings the facts as described in findings 2.1–2.34 of the interim judgment of the Court of Appeal of 5 July 2011 can be taken as established. In summary, these facts are as follows:

  1. (i)  In connection with the fighting which had broken out in the former republic of Yugoslavia in 1991 the Security Council of the United Nations (below: the Security Council) resolved in 1992 to establish the United Nations Protection Force (below: UNPROFOR), with its headquarters in Sarajevo.

  2. (ii)  Srebrenica is a city situated in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a result of the armed conflict a Muslim enclave was created in Srebrenica. From early 1993 the Srebrenica enclave was surrounded by the Bosnian-Serb army.

  3. (iii)  In Resolution 819 of 16 April 1993 the Security Council designated Srebrenica as a ‘safe area’ and demanded that the Bosnian-Serb army withdraw from the surrounding areas. In Resolution 836 of 4 June 1993 the Security Council called upon the Member States to contribute armed troops and logistic support to UNPROFOR.

  4. (iv)  The Netherlands placed a battalion of the Airborne Brigade at the disposal of UNPROFOR. The main force of this battalion (below: Dutchbat) was stationed in the Srebrenica enclave. One infantry company was quartered in the city of Srebrenica, and the other units were quartered outside the city at an abandoned industrial site in Potočari (referred to below as the compound). The commander of Dutchbat was Lieutenant Colonel Karremans. The Deputy Commander was Major Franken.

  5. (v)  On 5 and 6 July 1995 the Bosnian-Serb army under the command of General Mladić mounted an attack on the Srebrenica enclave. Srebrenica was captured by the Bosnian-Serb army on 11 July 1995. Subsequently a stream of refugees started leaving the town. Dutchbat allowed more than 5,000 of these refugees to enter the compound, including 239 men of military age (i.e. men between the ages of 16 and 60). The refugees within the compound were accommodated in an abandoned factory. A far larger number of refugees (probably around 27,000) had to stay in Potočari outside the compound in the open air.

  6. (vi)  On 11 July 1995, in the late afternoon, Dutch Defence Minister Voorhoeve agreed to the evacuation of the refugees in a telephone conversation with General Nicolai, Chief of Staff of UNPROFOR HQ (the headquarters of UNPROFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina, previously known as ‘BH Corrunand’). Later that day, at 18.45 hrs., Karremans received a fax message from General Gobillard, Deputy Commander of UNPROFOR HQ, instructing him to enter into negotiations with the Bosnian-Serb army and to protect the refugees.

  7. (vii)  In the evening of 11 July 1995 General Janvier (Force Commander of UNPF, which was the new name from 1 April 1995 of what had originally been known as UNPROFOR) received Dutch Chief of the Defence Staff Van den Breemen and Deputy Commander of the Royal Netherlands Army Van Baal, who had travelled from the Netherlands to Zagreb for consultations on the situation that had arisen in Srebrenica. The persons who took part in that meeting agreed that both Dutchbat and the refugees needed to be evacuated and that UNHCR would have primary responsibility for the evacuation of the refugees.

  8. (viii)  In the evening of 11 July 1995 Karremans held two meetings with Mladić. In the first meeting Karremans stated, among other things, that he had been requested by BH Command and by the national authorities to negotiate, in connection with the fall of the enclave, on the withdrawal of the Dutch battalion and to arrange for the (safe) withdrawal of the refugees.

  9. (ix)  In the early morning of 12 July 1995, Karremans spoke on the telephone to Defence Minister Voorhoeve. During this phone conversation Voorhoeve told Karremans to ‘save whatever can be saved’. In the course of that morning Karremans had a last meeting with Mladić about the evacuation of the refugees. At this meeting one of the people accompanying Karremans was Ibro Nuhanović, the father of Nuhanović. Mladić agreed that Karremans would take the local personnel along with Dutchbat. Dutchbat then drew up a list of approximately 29 persons who belonged to their local personnel and who would be evacuated along with Dutchbat.

  10. (x)  After Minister Voorhoeve had been informed about this last meeting, he instructed his staff to inform UNPROFOR that under no circumstances was Dutchbat allowed to cooperate in separate treatment of the men.

  11. (xi)  In the early afternoon of 12 July 1995 the first refugees who had remained outside the compound were taken away by buses of the Bosnian-Serbs. By the end of the morning of 13 July 1995 all refugees who had remained outside the compound had been taken away. Subsequently, the refugees who had been in the compound were also taken away that afternoon in vehicles of the Bosnian Serbs.

  12. (xii)  During the period in which the refugees were being removed, the Dutchbat troops received reports at various times that the Bosnian Serbs were committing crimes against the male refugees in particular. Before the end of the afternoon of 13 July 1995 it was learned, among other things, that the bodies of murdered men had been discovered, that the male refugees (of military age) had been taken to what was referred to as the ‘white house’ some 300–400 metres outside the compound, where they had been interrogated using physical force, and that outside the house the possessions of the male refugees, including their identity papers, had been thrown on to a pile and that Muslim men with a look of mortal fear in their eyes had been seen in the house.

  13. (xiii)  Nuhanović worked as an interpreter for the United Nations Military Observers (UNMO) , who were attached to UNPROFOR and formed part of Dutchbat. As such he was in the employment of the United Nations. After the fall of Srebrenica, Nuhanović’s father (Ibro Nuhanović), mother (Nasiha Nuhanović-Mehinagić) and minor brother (Muhamed) had sought refuge in the compound. Nuhanović had a UN pass and was on the list of local personnel allowed to be evacuated with Dutchbat. His father, mother and brother were not on this list. Nuhanović made various attempts to get his relatives, particularly his brother Muhamed, added to the list. This was refused by Major Franken because Muhamed did not have a UN pass and Franken thought that such a pass could also not be made by Dutchbat.

  14. (xiv)  After Nuhanović’s father, mother and brother had learned that they were not allowed to stay, they made their way towards the exit of the compound at around 19.30 hours on 13 July 1995. Franken then told Nuhanović’s father (Ibro) that he was allowed to stay, because he had been a member of the civilian committee that had held consultations with Mladić. Nuhanović’s mother and brother were not offered that opportunity. Ibro chose to leave the compound together with his wife and his son Muhamed. All three of them were taken away by the Bosnian Serbs and murdered by the Bosnian Serb Army or related paramilitary groups.

  15. (xv)  Dutchbat left the compound on 21 July 1995.

  16. (xvi)  The great majority of the men of military age removed by the Bosnian Serbs were murdered by them. It is thought that the Bosnian Serbs killed over 7,000 men in total, many of them in mass executions.

3.3  The relief sought by Nuhanović in these proceedings includes a declaratory ruling that the State is responsible on the grounds of wrongful conduct for the damage suffered by Muhamed and/or Ibro and/or Nasiha Nuhanović and/or Nuhanović himself, and that the State is liable to pay damages to Nuhanović for the damage he has suffered and will continue to suffer in consequence of this. In so far as relevant to the cassation proceedings, Nuhanović has based his claim on (1) the allegation that the State (Dutchbat) wrongly refused to put his brother Muhamed on the list of local personnel and consequently did not take him along when the Dutch battalion was evacuated, and (ii) the allegation that the State (Dutchbat) sent his brother Muhamed and hence his father Ibro away from the compound.

3.4  The District Court rejected the application for relief sought by Nuhanović. It upheld the State’s defence that Dutchbat’s conduct was exclusively attributable to the United Nations, and hence not (even partly) to the State, and held that this meant that the State could not be held responsible for any wrongful act committed by Dutchbat.

3.5.1  The Court of Appeal has set aside the judgment of the District Court and held, in a declaratory ruling, that the State is responsible to Nuhanović on account of wrongful conduct for the damage he has suffered and will continue to suffer as a consequence of the death of Muhamed and Ibro Nuhanović. The Court of Appeal held that the disputed conduct of Dutchbat could be attributed to the State.

3.5.2  The Court of Appeal gave the following reasons for this attribution (findings of law 5.1–5.20 interim judgment).

The criterion for determining whether Dutchbat’s conduct should be attributed to the United Nations or to the State is which of them had effective control over Dutchbat at the time of the conduct referred to in these proceedings. The generally accepted view is that where a State has placed troops at the disposal of the United Nations to carry out a peace mission, the answer to the question as to which of them specific conduct of such troops must be attributed depends on which of them had effective control over the conduct in question. As it is generally accepted that more than one party can have effective control, the possibility cannot be excluded that application of this criterion could result in attribution to more than one party. This led the Court of Appeal to examine only whether the State had effective control over the disputed conduct and to leave open whether the United Nations too had effective control.

The Court of Appeal then concluded that the State had effective control over the conduct of which Dutchbat is accused by Nuhanović and that this conduct could therefore be attributed to the State.

3.5.3  As regards the alleged unlawfulness of Dutchbat’s conduct, the Court of Appeal has held, inter alia, as follows (findings of law 6.1–6.21 interim judgment).

Dutchbat should not have caused Muhamed to leave the compound in the early evening of 13 July 1995 since it already knew of the risks to which Muhamed would thereby be exposed. This does not mean that the same applies to the other refugees who had left the compound earlier. The Court of Appeal has not given a ruling on this. In view of the grave consequences for Muhamed of leaving the compound — which were known to Dutchbat — and also in view of the pressing requests which Nuhanović had previously made on behalf of his brother, Dutchbat should have reassessed the matter separately in the light of the situation at that time. There is insufficient evidence that possession of a UN pass was a condition set by the Bosnian Serbs for evacuation with Dutchbat. The Court of Appeal has also assumed that a UN pass could have been made for Muhamed at the compound.

The Court of Appeal has concluded that by causing Muhamed to leave the compound and by not arranging for him to be taken with Dutchbat to a safe area, thereby resulting in Muhamed’s death, the State acted wrongfully towards Nuhanović both under the domestic law of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the grounds of a violation of rights under treaty law, namely the right to life and the prohibition of inhuman treatment. The State is responsible under the law of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the conduct of the members of Dutchbat. Attribution to the State also follows from the principle of effective control.

The Court of Appeal also considers that the State is responsible for the damage which Nuhanović has suffered on account of his father’s death. Ibro’s death is attributable to the State in consequence of the wrongful conduct towards Muhamed. In these circumstances, it was, after all, foreseeable that Ibro would choose to accompany his minor son.

The Court of Appeal has found that the allegation that the State acted wrongfully towards Nasiha Nuhanović has not been sufficiently substantiated. It has gone on to find that as a woman Nasiha did not — according to Nuhanović — have anything to fear from the Serbs and in the absence of further explanation, which is lacking, there does not appear to be any reason why Dutchbat was not entitled to allow her to leave the compound. The Court of Appeal’s ruling in relation to the State’s conduct towards Nasiha has not been disputed in the cassation proceedings.

Can Dutchbat’s conduct be attributed to the State?

3.6.1  Parts 1–3 of the grounds of appeal in cassation are directed against the findings and decisions of the Court of Appeal in findings of law 5.7–5.20 of the interim judgment in relation to the attribution of Dutchbat’s conduct to the State.

3.6.2  The Court of Appeal has rejected Nuhanović’s submission that this attribution should take place in accordance with the rules not of international law but of national Bosnian law. It has held in this connection that the question is not whether Dutchbat military personnel acted wrongfully towards Nuhanović but whether the conduct of troops placed at the disposal of the United Nations, whether or not pursuant to an agreement concluded between the State and the United Nations, should be attributed to the State, the United Nations or possibly to both. The question of whether such an agreement has been concluded and, if so, what it involves and what consequences it has, for example in relation to the issue of which party is liable under civil law for Dutchbat’s conduct, should be judged according to international law (finding of law 5.3 interim judgment).

These rulings have not been disputed in the cassation proceedings. This means that when the State’s grounds for challenging the ruling that Dutchbatvs disputed conduct must be attributed to the State are assessed it must be assumed that the question of attribution should be answered solely in accordance with the rules of international law.

3.7  In establishing the rules developed in unwritten international law for deciding on what conditions conduct can be attributed to a State or to an international organization, the Supreme Court will refer to two sets of rules drawn up by the International Law Commission (ILC) of the United Nations, namely the Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts of 2001 (below: DARS) and the Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations of 2011 (below: DARIO).

3.8.1  What is of importance in the first place in determining whether Dutchbat’s disputed conduct can be attributed to the State is the provisions of DARS, Part One ‘The internationally wrongful act of a State’, Chapter II ‘Attribution of conduct to a State’, of which articles 4 and 8, in so far as relevant here, read as follows:

Article 4  Conduct of organs of a State

  1. . The conduct of any State organ shall be considered an act of that State under international law, whether the organ exercises legislative, executive, judicial or any other functions, whatever position it holds in the organization of the State, and whatever its character as an organ of the central Government or of a territorial unit of the State.

  2. . (…)

Article 8  Conduct directed or controlled by a State

The conduct of a person or group of persons shall be considered an act of a State under international law if the person or group of persons is in fact acting on the instructions of, or under the direction or control of, that State in carrying out the conduct.

3.8.2  It follows from articles 4 and 8 DARS that Dutchbat’s conduct can be attributed to the State if Dutchbat should be considered as an organ of the State (art. 4 (1) DARS) or if Dutchbat in fact acted on the instructions or under the direction or control of the State (art. 8 DARS).

3.9.1  In the proceedings before the Court of Appeal the debate between the parties focused on the question of whether the circumstance that Dutchbat had been placed at the disposal of the United Nations by the State meant that Dutchbat’s conduct could be attributed not to the State pursuant to article 4 (1) or article 8 DARS but only to the United Nations. The provisions of the DARIO are of relevance in connection with the latter point.

3.9.2  Articles 6 and 7 DARIO, which are contained in Part Two ‘The internationally wrongful act of an international organization’, Chapter II ‘Attribution of conduct to an international organization’, read as follows:

Article 6  Conduct of organs or agents of an international organization

  1. . The conduct of an organ or agent of an international organization in the performance of functions of that organ or agent shall be considered an act of that organization under international law, whatever position the organ or agent holds in respect of the organization.

  2. . The rules of the organization shall apply in the determination of the functions of its organs and agents.

Article 7  Conduct of organs of a State or organs or agents of an international organization placed at the disposal of another international organization

The conduct of an organ of a State or an organ or agent of an international organization that is placed at the disposal of another international organization shall be considered under international law an act of the latter organization if the organization exercises effective control over that conduct.

Article 48 DARIO, which is contained in Part Four ‘The implementation of the international responsibility of an international organization’, Chapter I ‘Invocation of the responsibility of an international organization’, reads, in so far as relevant here, as follows:

Article 48  Responsibility of an international organization and one or more States or international organizations

  1. . Where an international organization and one or more States or other international organizations are responsible for the same internationally wrongful act, the responsibility of each State or organization may be invoked in relation to that act.

  2. . (…)

3.9.3  The commentary on article 7 DARIO (at 1) explains how this provision relates to article 6 DARIO as follows:

‘When an organ of a State is placed at the disposal of an international organization, the organ may be fully seconded to that organization. In this case the organ’s conduct would clearly be attributable only to the receiving organization. The same consequence would apply when an organ or agent of one international organization is fully seconded to another organization. In these cases, the general rule set out in article 6 would apply. Article 7 deals with the different situation in which the seconded organ or agent still acts to a certain extent as organ of the seconding State or as organ or agent of the seconding organization. This occurs for instance in the case of military contingents that a State places at the disposal of the United Nations for a peacekeeping operation, since the State retains disciplinary powers and criminal jurisdiction over the members of the national contingent. In this situation the problem arises whether a specific conduct of the seconded organ or agent is to be attributed to the receiving organization or to the seconding State or organization.’

3.9.4  The Commentary on Part Two, Chapter II DARIO (at 4) notes that articles 6–9 DARIO do not necessarily mean that conduct must be exclusively attributed to an international organization — thereby resulting in exclusive responsibility of the international organization — but instead leave open the possibility of conduct being attributed to an international organization and a State, which would then result in dual attribution to the international organization and the State concerned:

‘Although it may not frequently occur in practice, dual or even multiple attribution of conduct cannot be excluded. Thus, attribution of a certain conduct to an international organization does not imply that the same conduct cannot be attributed to a State; nor does attribution of conduct to a State rule out attribution of the same conduct to an international organization. One could also envisage conduct being simultaneously attributed to two or more international organizations, for instance when they establish a joint organ and act through that organ.’

Article 48 (1) DARIO therefore expressly leaves open the possibility of more than one State or organization being held responsible for the consequences of an internationally wrongful act.

3.9.5  Finally, the Commentary notes as follows in respect of article 7 DARIO (at 4):

‘The criterion for attribution of conduct either to the contributing State or organization or to the receiving organization is based according to article 7 on the factual control that is exercised over the specific conduct taken by the organ or agent placed at the receiving organization’s disposal. As was noted in the comment by one State, account needs to be taken of the “full factual circumstances and particular context”.’

3.10.1  Part 1 of the cassation appeal submits that in findings of law 5.7 and 5.8 of the interim judgment the Court of Appeal has failed to recognise that a UN troop contingent that has been established in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter and has been placed under the command and control of the United Nations — in this case UNPROFOR, of which Dutchbat formed part — is an organ of the United Nations. This means that attribution of the conduct of such a troop contingent should be made by reference to article 6 DARIO and not by reference to article 7 DARIO. According to this part of the appeal, application of article 6 DARIO means that Dutchbat’s conduct should, in principle, always be attributed to the United Nations.

3.10.2  It is apparent from the Commentary on article 7 DARIO (see above at 3.9.3) that this attribution rule applies, inter alia, to the situation in which a State places troops at the disposal of the United Nations in the context of a UN peace mission, and command and control is transferred to the United Nations, but the disciplinary powers and criminal jurisdiction (the ‘organic command’) remain vested in the seconding State. It is implicit in the findings of the Court of Appeal that this situation occurs in the present case. After all, in finding of law 5.10 of the interim judgment the Court of Appeal has held — and this has not been disputed in the cassation appeal — that it is not at issue that the Netherlands, as the troop-contributing State, retained control over the personnel affairs of the military personnel concerned, who had remained in the service of the Netherlands, and retained the power to punish these military personnel under disciplinary and criminal law. The submission in part 1 of the cassation appeal that the Court of Appeal has failed to apply the attribution rule of article 6 DARIO and has instead wrongly applied the attribution rule of article 7 DARIO therefore fails.

3.11.1  Part 2 of the cassation appeal consists of a series of submissions directed against findings of law 5.8–5.20 of the interim judgment, in which the Court of Appeal has defined the criterion of effective control in applying the attribution rule of article 7 DARIO to the present case.

3.11.2  In so far as these grounds of appeal are based on the submission that international law excludes the possibility that conduct can be attributed both to an international organization and to a State and that the Court of Appeal therefore wrongly proceeded on the assumption that there was a possibility that both the United Nations and the State had effective control over Dutchbat’s disputed conduct, they are based on an incorrect interpretation of the law. As held above at 3.9.4, international law, in particular article 7 DARIO in conjunction with article 48 (1) DARIO, does not exclude the possibility of dual attribution of given conduct.

It follows that the Court of Appeal was able to leave open whether the United Nations had effective control over Dutchbat’s conduct in the early evening of 13 July 1995. Even if this was the case, it does not necessarily mean that the United Nations had exclusive responsibility.

3.11.3  In so far as it is submitted in these grounds of the cassation appeal that the Court of Appeal has applied an incorrect criterion in assessing whether the State had effective control over Dutchbat at the moment of the disputed conduct, they too are based on an incorrect interpretation of the law. For the purpose of deciding whether the State had effective control it is not necessary for the State to have countermanded the command structure of the United Nations by giving instructions to Dutchbat or to have exercised operational command independently. It is apparent from the Commentary on article 7 DARIO as referred to above at 3.9.5 that the attribution of conduct to the seconding State or the international organization is based on the factual control over the specific conduct, in which all factual circumstances and the special context of the case must be taken into account. In the disputed findings of law the Court of Appeal has examined, in the light of all circumstances and the special context of the case, whether the State had factual control over Dutchbat’s disputed conduct. The Court of Appeal has not therefore interpreted or applied the law incorrectly.

3.12.1  Part 3 of the cassation appeal consists of a series of submissions directed against findings of law 5.8–5.20 of the interim judgment that the State had effective control over Dutchbat’s disputed conduct.

3.12.2  This finding of the Court of Appeal is based on, among other things, the following facts and circumstances:

  • —  The context in which Dutchbat’s disputed conduct took place differs in one important respect from the normal situation in which troops made available by a State function under the command of the United Nations. After 11 July 1995 the mission to protect Srebrenica had failed. There was no longer any question of Dutchbat — or UNPROFOR in any other composition — continuing or resuming the mission (finding of law 5.11 of the interim judgment).

  • —  On 11 July 1995 the decision was taken in mutual consultation by the United Nations (i.e. by the UN Force Commander) and the Dutch government to evacuate Dutchbat with the refugees (findings of law 5.11–5.16).

  • —  From 11 July 1995 there was a transitional period in which the business in Potočari was wound up. An important element of Dutchbat’s residual task after 11 July 1995 was the help to and evacuation of the refugees (finding of law 5.17).

  • —  During this transitional period not only the United Nations but also the Dutch government in The Hague had control over Dutchbat and also actually exercised this in practice. The Dutch government was closely involved in the evacuation of Dutchbat and of the refugees as well as in the preparations for this, and it could have prevented the conduct in question if it had been aware of this in good time (finding of law 5.18).

  • —  The allegations made by Nuhanović, as described above at 3.3, are connected with the manner in which Dutchbat carried out the evacuation of the refugees (i.e. the instructions of the Dutch government about this evacuation) (finding of law 5.19).

3.12.3  The Court of Appeal’s ruling that the State had effective control over the conduct of which Dutchbat and hence the State as well are accused by Nuhanović does not reveal an incorrect interpretation or application of the law on the concept of effective control. Moreover, the reasons given for this ruling are couched in perfectly clear terms given the findings on which it has been based by the Court of Appeal, as indicated above at 3.12.2. Although the mission had in fact failed and Dutchbat could therefore no longer exert any influence outside the compound, this does not detract from the fact that the State had effective control over Dutchbat’s conduct in the compound. The grounds of appeal of part 3 therefore fail for this reason.

3.13  The above findings lead to the conclusion that parts 2 and 3 of the cassation appeal oppose in vain the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the State had effective control over the conduct of which Dutchbat — and hence the State as well — is accused by Nuhanović. Given this position, the Court of Appeal was able to find on the basis of the attribution rule of article 7 DARIO, which is applicable to this case, partly in view of what is provided in the attribution rule of article 8 DARS — that Dutchbat’s disputed conduct can be attributed to the State.

3.14  Nor can the other grounds of appeal of parts 2 and 3 result in cassation. Pursuant to section 81, subsection 1, of the Judiciary (Organization) Act no further reasons need be given for this, since these grounds of appeal do not warrant the answering of questions of law in the interests of the uniform application of the law or the development of the law.

Part 4 builds on parts 1–3 and must share their fate.

Was Dutchbat’s conduct wrongful?

3.15.1  Parts 5–9 of the grounds of appeal in cassation are directed against the findings and decisions of the Court of Appeal in findings of law 6.3–6.21 of the interim judgment relating to the assessment of Nuhanović’s allegations against the State.

3.15.2  These allegations are (i) that Dutchbat refused to put Muhamed Nuhanović on the list of local personnel and did not therefore take him along when the Dutch battalion was evacuated, and (ii) that Dutchbat sent Muhamed Nuhanović and hence Ibro Nuhanović as well from the compound. According to finding of law 6.3 of the interim judgment the Court of Appeal has assessed these allegations by reference to two sets of rules. First, the Court of Appeal has assessed Dutchbat’s disputed conduct by reference to the provisions of the domestic law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is the law that is applicable to the alleged wrongful act according to Dutch private international law. Second, the Court of Appeal has assessed this conduct by reference to the legal principles implicit in articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and articles 6 and 7 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (the right to life and the prohibition of inhuman treatment respectively), as these principles should be regarded as rules of customary international law which have universal operation and are binding on the State.

3.15.3  According to finding of law 6.20 of the interim judgment, the Court of Appeal has found that by causing Muhamed to leave the compound and by not taking him along to a safe area, as a result of which Muhamed died, the State acted wrongfully towards Nuhanović both under section 154 of the Law of Obligations Act of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the basis of violation of the right to life and the prohibition of inhuman treatment.

The Court of Appeal went on to hold that under section 171, subsection 1, of the Law of Obligations Act of Bosnia and Herzegovina the State was responsible for the conduct of the members of Dutchbat, who had caused the damage ‘in the course of their work or in connection with work’. According to the Court of Appeal, attribution to the State also followed from the above-mentioned principle of effective control.

In addition, the Court of Appeal has held that the State is responsible under section 155 of the Law of Obligations Act of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the non-pecuniary damage Nuhanović has suffered and may possibly still be suffering as a result of Muhamed’s death.

Finally, the Court of Appeal has held that the State is also responsible for the damage which Nuhanović has suffered as a result of the death of his father, since his death was attributable to the State as a consequence of the wrongful conduct in respect of Muhamed.

3.15.4  In finding of law 6.21 of the interim judgment the Court of Appeal has come to the conclusion that Nuhanović’s claim for relief should be granted in the sense that the Court of Appeal will issue a declaratory ruling that the State is responsible on the grounds of wrongful conduct for the damage which Nuhanović has suffered and will continue to suffer as a consequence of the death of Muhamed and Ibro Nuhanović.

3.15.5  Parts 5–9 of the grounds of appeal in cassation do not challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal, as described above at 3.15.2, to assess Dutchbat’s disputed conduct by reference, on the one hand, to the provisions of the domestic law of Bosnia and Herzegovina and, on the other, to the legal principles implicit in articles 2 and 3 ECHR and articles 6 and 7 ICCPR (the right to life and the prohibition of inhuman treatment respectively).

Nor do parts 5–9 allege that the findings of the Court of Appeal at 3.15.3 above are incorrect in so far as they imply that application of the domestic law of Bosnia and Herzegovina means (i) that the State acted wrongfully towards Nuhanović by causing Muhamed to leave the compound and by not taking him along to a safe area, as a result of which Muhamed went to his death, (ii) that the State is responsible for the conduct of the members of Dutchbat, (iii) that the State is responsible for the non-pecuniary damage which Nuhanović has suffered and may possibly still be suffering as a consequence of Muhamed’s death, and (iv) that the State is also responsible for the damage which Nuhanović has suffered as a consequence of his father’s death. It should be noted incidentally that section 79, subsection 1, opening words and (b), of the Judiciary (Organization) Act prevents the Supreme Court from examining in the cassation proceedings the correctness of these rulings of the Court of Appeal in so far as they are based on application of the domestic law of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In so far as parts 5–9 challenge the reasoning given for assessing the disputed conduct of Dutchbat by reference to the domestic law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it should be noted that such arguments cannot be assessed in this case without including the correctness of the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the content and interpretation of that law, which means that these arguments about the reasoning also fail on account of section 79, subsection 1, opening words and (b), of the Judiciary (Organization) Act.

The above means that the Court of Appeal’s conclusion as set out above at 3.15.4 is independently based on the rulings of the Court of Appeal concerning the domestic law of Bosnia and Herzegovina which have either not been disputed or have been disputed in vain in the cassation proceedings. The submissions in parts 5–9 challenging the assessment of Dutchbat’s disputed conduct by reference to the legal principles implicit in articles 2 and 3 ECHR and articles 6 and 7 ICCPR (the right to life and the prohibition of inhuman treatment respectively) can also therefore not result in cassation.

3.16  The Supreme Court would observe, by way of obiter dictum‎, in respect of parts 5–9 as follows.

3.17.1  Part 5 submits that any assessment of Dutchbat’s disputed conduct by reference to the legal principles implicit in articles 2 and 3 ECHR and articles 6 and 7 ICCPR is prevented by the fact that the State did not have jurisdiction as referred to in article 1 ECHR and article 2 (1) ICCPR either in Srebrenica or in the compound in Potočari. This submission fails.

3.17.2  According to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the possibility is not excluded that a Contracting State may, in exceptional circumstances, have the jurisdiction referred to in article 1 ECHR even outside its territory (cf. ECtHR 7 July 2011, no. 55721/07, NJ 2012/430 (Al-Skeini and Others v. the United Kingdom)).

3.17.3  In this case Dutchbat’s presence in Srebrenica and in the compound in Potočari resulted from the participation of the Netherlands in UNPROFOR, and UNPROFOR derived its right to take action in Srebrenica from the Agreement on the status of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded between the United Nations and Bosnia and Herzegovina (see finding of law 2.6 of the interim judgment). This means that the State was competent, through Dutchbat, to exercise jurisdiction within the meaning of article 1 ECHR in the compound.

Nor can it be said that, after the fall of the enclave on 11 July 1995 and, in particular, at the moment of Dutchbat’s disputed conduct, it was de facto impossible for the State to exercise jurisdiction as referred to above in the compound. According to the facts on which it has based its judgment, the Court of Appeal has assumed that the Bosnian Serb army respected Dutchbat’s authority over the compound to which it had withdrawn until the departure of Dutchbat on 21 July 1995. These facts provide a sufficient basis for the view that the State, through Dutchbat, was actually able to ensure compliance with the human rights enshrined in articles 2 and 3 ECHR and articles 6 and 7 ICCPR in relation to Muhamed and Ibro Nuhanović.

3.18.1  Parts 7 and 9 submit that in findings of law 6.8 and 6.11–6.14 of the interim judgment the Court of Appeal wrongly assessed Dutchbat’s conduct with the benefit of hindsight. They go on to argue that the Court of Appeal should have assessed whether the actual decisions and actions of Dutchbat were reasonable in the light of what was known to its commanders at the moment of the disputed conduct, which is in fact the criterion actually laid down by the Court of Appeal in finding of law 6.18 of the interim judgment. In this respect parts 7 and 8 advocate judicial restraint by the court in its review, particularly as there was a war situation, Dutchbat had no jurisdiction locally, and the Dutchbat command also needed to secure the safety of the persons working for Dutchbat.

3.18.2  These parts of the appeal in cassation lack any factual basis in so far as they argue that the Court of Appeal assessed Dutchbat’s conduct with the benefit of hindsight. It is apparent from findings of law 6.8, 6.11–6.14 and 6.18 of the interim judgment that in each case the Court of Appeal has applied the criterion advocated in these parts of the cassation appeal, namely whether the actual decisions and actions of Dutchbat were reasonable in the light of what was known to Dutchbat at that time.

3.18.3  In so far as these parts of the cassation appeal allege that the Court of Appeal has failed to take account of the need for judicial restraint in its review of what happened, they too must fail since no basis for the exercise of judicial restraint of this kind can be found in unwritten international law, the ECHR or the ICCPR, or indeed in the domestic law of the Netherlands.

The exercise of judicial restraint of this kind in such a review, as advocated in these parts of the appeal, would mean that there would be virtually no scope for the courts to assess the consequences of the conduct of a troop contingent in the context of a peace mission, in this case the conduct of which Dutchbat and hence the State are accused. Such far-reaching restraint is unacceptable. Nor is this altered by the fact that the State expects this to have an adverse effect on the implementation of peace operations by the United Nations, in particular on the willingness of member States to provide troops for such operations. This should not, after all, prevent the possibility of judicial assessment in retrospect of the conduct of the relevant troop contingent. The court should indeed make allowance for the fact that this concerns decisions taken under great pressure in a war situation, but this is not something that has been disregarded by the Court of Appeal.

3.19  Parts 10 and 11 build on the previous parts and must therefore share their fate.

Decision

The Supreme Court:

dismisses the appeal;

orders the State to bear the costs of the cassation proceedings, those of Nuhanović having been estimated up to the time of this judgment at €373.34 in disbursements and €2,200 in fees.

This judgment has been given by vice-president F.B. Bakels as presiding justice and by justices C.A. Streefkerk, M.A. Loth, C.E. Drion and M.V. Polak, and pronounced in public by vice-president F.B. Bakels on 6 September 2013.

Decision - full text

Het geding in feitelijke instanties

Voor het verloop van het geding in feitelijke instanties verwijst de Hoge Raad naar de navolgende stukken:

  1. . het vonnis in de zaak 265618/HA ZA 06-1671 van de rechtbank ’s-Gravenhage van 10 september 2008;

  2. . de arresten in de zaak 200.020.174/01 van het gerechtshof te ’s-Gravenhage van 5 juli 2011 en 26 juni 2012.

De arresten van het hof zijn aan dit arrest gehecht.

Het geding in cassatie

Tegen de arresten van het hof van 5 juli 2011 en 26 juni 2012 heeft de Staat beroep in cassatie ingesteld. De cassatiedagvaarding is aan dit arrest gehecht en maakt daarvan deel uit.

Nuhanović heeft geconcludeerd tot verwerping van het beroep.

De zaak is voor partijen mondeling toegelicht door hun advocaten, alsmede door mr. L. Zegveld, advocaat te Amsterdam, voor Nuhanović.

De conclusie van de Advocaat-Generaal P. Vlas strekt tot verwerping van het beroep.

Mr. Houtzagers heeft bij brief van 31 mei 2013 namens de Staat op die conclusie gereageerd; mrs. Tjittes en Den Dekker hebben eveneens bij brief van 31 mei 2013 namens Nuhanović op die conclusie gereageerd.

Beoordeling het middel

3.1  In deze zaak gaat het om gebeurtenissen die plaatsvonden kort na de val van de enclave Srebrenica op 11 juli 1995.

Hasan Nuhanović (hierna: Nuhanović) was in dienst van de Verenigde Naties. Hij was als tolk werkzaam op de compound in Potočári waar Dutchbat gelegerd was.

Hij beschikte over een VN-pas en stond op de lijst van lokaal personeel dat met Dutchbat mee mocht evacueren. Zijn vader Ibro, zijn moeder Nasiha en zijn broer Muhamed hadden na de val van de enclave hun toevlucht gezocht op de compound. Zij stonden niet op de lijst van lokaal personeel en kregen op 13 juli 1995 te horen dat zij de compound moesten verlaten. Kort daarna zijn zij door het Bosnisch-Servische leger of aanverwante paramilitaire groepen vermoord. Nuhanović stelt de Staat aansprakelijk voor de schadelijke gevolgen hiervan. Volgens Nuhanović heeft Dutchbat onrechtmatig gehandeld door zijn familieleden niet mee te nemen met de evacuatie van het Nederlandse bataljon maar hen van de compound weg te sturen.

In de procedure bij de Hoge Raad staan twee vragen centraal: (i) kan het optreden van Dutchbat aan de Staat worden toegerekend, en (ii) was het optreden van Dutchbat onrechtmatig.

3.2  In cassatie kan worden uitgegaan van de feiten als vermeld in rov. 2.1–2.34 van het tussenarrest van het hof van 5 juli 2011. Samengevat weergegeven houden deze het volgende in.

  1. (i)  In verband met de gevechten die in 1991 in de voormalige republiek Joegoslavië waren uitgebroken, heeft de Veiligheidsraad van de Verenigde Naties (hierna ook: de Veiligheidsraad) in 1992 besloten tot het instellen van de United Nations Protection Force (hierna: UNPROFOR), met hoofdkwartier in Sarajevo.

  2. (ii)  Srebrenica is een stad gelegen in het oosten van Bosnië-Herzegovina. Door het gewapende conflict ontstond in Srebrenica en omgeving een moslimenclave. Vanaf begin 1993 was de enclave Srebrenica omsingeld door het Bosnisch-Servische leger.

  3. (iii)  De Veiligheidsraad heeft in Resolutie 819 van 16 april 1993 Srebrenica aangemerkt als safe area en het Bosnisch-Servische leger opgeroepen zich uit de omringende gebieden terug te trekken. In Resolutie 836 van 4 juni 1993 heeft de Veiligheidsraad de lidstaten opgeroepen gewapende troepen en logistieke ondersteuning ter beschikking te stellen aan UNPROFOR.

  4. (iv)  Nederland heeft een bataljon van de Luchtmobiele Brigade ter beschikking gesteld aan UNPROFOR. De hoofdmacht van dit bataljon (hierna: Dutchbat) werd in de enclave Srebrenica gestationeerd. Eén compagnie infanterie werd in de stad Srebrenica gelegerd, de overige eenheden werden buiten de stad gelegerd op een verlaten fabrieksterrein te Potočári (hierna: de compound). Commandant van Dutchbat was luitenant-kolonel (‘overste’) Karremans. Plaatsvervangend commandant was majoor Franken.

  5. (v)  Op 5 en 6 juli 1995 is het Bosnisch-Servische leger onder aanvoering van generaal Mladić een aanval begonnen op de enclave Srebrenica. Op 11 juli 1995 is Srebrenica gewapenderhand door het Bosnisch-Servische leger ingenomen. Vanuit de stad Srebrenica kwam een vluchtelingenstroom op gang. Door Dutchbat zijn ruim 5.000 van deze vluchtelingen toegelaten op de compound, onder wie 239 weerbare mannen tussen 16 en 60 jaar. De vluchtelingen die op de compound aanwezig waren, werden ondergebracht in een lege fabriekshal. Een veel groter aantal vluchtelingen (vermoedelijk omstreeks 27.000) verbleef te Potočári buiten de compound in de open lucht.

  6. (vi)  Op 11 juli 1995 aan het eind van de middag heeft minister van Defensie Voorhoeve in een telefoongesprek met generaal Nicolai, chef-staf van ‘HQ UNPROFOR’ (het commando van UNPROFOR in Bosnië-Herzegovina, voorheen aangeduid als ‘BH Command’), ingestemd met het evacueren van de vluchtelingen. Karremans ontving later die dag om 18.45 uur een fax van generaal Gobillard, wnd. commandant van HQ UNPROFOR, met daarin de instructie tot het voeren van onderhandelingen met het Bosnisch-Servische leger en het beschermen van de vluchtelingen.

  7. (vii)  In de avond van 11 juli 1995 ontving generaal Janvier (Force Commander van UNPF, sinds 1 april 1995 de naam van het oorspronkelijke UNPROFOR) de Nederlandse chef Defensiestaf Van den Breemen en de plaatsvervangend bevelhebber Van Baal, die vanuit Nederland naar Zagreb waren gekomen om te overleggen over de in Srebrenica ontstane situatie. De deelnemers aan dat gesprek waren het erover eens dat zowel Dutchbat als de vluchtelingen dienden te worden geëvacueerd, waarbij wat de evacuatie van de vluchtelingen aanging, UNHCR de eerstverantwoordelijke zou zijn.

  8. (viii)  In de avond van 11 juli 1995 heeft Karremans twee besprekingen gevoerd met Mladić. Karremans heeft in het eerste gesprek onder meer gezegd dat hij van het BH Command alsmede van de nationale autoriteiten het verzoek had gekregen om in verband met de val van de enclave te onderhandelen over de terugtrekking van het Nederlandse bataljon en zorg te dragen voor de (veilige) terugtrekking van de vluchtelingen.

  9. (ix)  In de vroege ochtend van 12 juli 1995 sprak Karremans telefonisch met Voorhoeve. Voorhoeve zei tegen Karremans: ‘redt wat er te redden valt’. Gedurende die ochtend heeft Karremans een laatste bespreking met Mladić gehad over de evacuatie van de vluchtelingen, waarbij Karremans onder meer vergezeld werd door Ibro Nuhanović, de vader van Nuhanović. Mladić heeft ermee ingestemd dat Karremans het lokale personeel met Dutchbat zou meenemen. Door Dutchbat is een lijst gemaakt van ongeveer 29 personen die behoorden tot het lokale personeel en die met Dutchbat mee zouden evacueren.

  10. (x)  Nadat aan minister Voorhoeve verslag was uitgebracht van deze laatste bespreking, gaf Voorhoeve opdracht aan zijn medewerkers om aan UNPROFOR te laten weten dat Dutchbat onder geen beding mocht meewerken aan een aparte behandeling van de mannen.

  11. (xi)  Aan het begin van de middag van 12 juli 1995 zijn de eerste vluchtelingen die buiten de compound verbleven, met bussen van de Bosnische Serviërs weggevoerd. Tegen het einde van de ochtend van 13 juli 1995 waren alle vluchtelingen die buiten de compound verbleven, weggevoerd. Vervolgens zijn die middag ook de vluchtelingen die op de compound verbleven, met door de Bosnische Serviërs aangevoerde voertuigen weggevoerd.

  12. (xii)  Gedurende de periode waarin de vluchtelingen werden weggevoerd, bereikten militairen van Dutchbat op verschillende tijdstippen signalen dat de Bosnische Serviërs misdaden tegen met name de mannelijke vluchtelingen pleegden. Vóór het eind van de middag van 13 juli 1995 was onder meer geconstateerd dat er lijken van vermoorde mannen waren aangetroffen, dat de (weerbare) mannelijke vluchtelingen naar het ‘witte huis’ 300 à 400 meter buiten de compound werden gebracht en daar met fysiek geweld werden ondervraagd, en dat buiten dit huis de bezittingen van de mannelijke vluchtelingen, waaronder hun identiteitspapieren, op een hoop waren gegooid en binnen dit huis moslimmannen verbleven met doodsangst in de ogen.

  13. (xiii)  Nuhanović was als tolk werkzaam voor de United Nations Military Observers (UNMO) die aan UNPROFOR waren verbonden en deel uitmaakten van Dutchbat. Als zodanig was hij in dienst van de Verenigde Naties. De vader van Nuhanović, Ibro, zijn moeder, Nasiha Nuhanović-Mehinagić, en zijn minderjarige broer Muhamed hadden, na de val van Srebrenica, hun toevlucht gezocht op de compound. Nuhanović beschikte over een VN-pas en stond op de lijst van lokaal personeel dat met Dutchbat mee mocht evacueren. Zijn vader, zijn moeder en zijn broer stonden niet op deze lijst. Nuhanović heeft diverse pogingen gedaan om met name zijn broer Muhamed op de lijst te krijgen. Dit is door majoor Franken geweigerd omdat Muhamed niet over een VN-pas beschikte en, naar Franken meende, een dergelijke pas ook niet door Dutchbat kon worden aangemaakt.

  14. (xiv)  Nadat de vader, moeder en broer van Nuhanović te horen hadden gekregen dat zij niet konden blijven, begaven zij zich op 13 juli 1995 rond 19.30 uur naar de uitgang van de compound. Franken heeft toen nog aan de vader van Nuhanović (Ibro) gezegd dat hij wél kon blijven omdat hij deel had uitgemaakt van het burgercomité dat overleg had gevoerd met Mladić. Aan de moeder en broer van Nuhanović werd die mogelijkheid niet geboden. Ibro koos ervoor om de compound samen met zijn vrouw en Muhamed te verlaten. Zij zijn door de Bosnische Serviërs weggevoerd en door het Bosnisch-Servische leger of aanverwante paramilitaire groepen vermoord.

  15. (xv)  Dutchbat heeft de compound op 21 juli 1995 verlaten.

  16. (xvi)  Het overgrote deel van de weerbare mannen die door de Bosnische Serviërs zijn afgevoerd, is door hen vermoord. In totaal zijn door de Bosnische Serviërs vermoedelijk meer dan 7.000 mannen om het leven gebracht, velen door massa-executies.

3.3  Nuhanović vordert in dit geding onder meer een verklaring voor recht dat de Staat aansprakelijk is voor de schade uit onrechtmatige daad jegens Muhamed en/of Ibro en/of Nasiha Nuhanović en/of jegens Nuhanović zelf, en dat de Staat jegens Nuhanović is gehouden tot vergoeding van de schade die hij als gevolg daarvan heeft geleden en nog zal lijden. Voor zover in cassatie van belang heeft Nuhanović aan zijn vordering ten grondslag gelegd (i) het verwijt dat de Staat (Dutchbat) ten onrechte heeft geweigerd zijn broer Muhamed op de lijst met lokaal personeel te plaatsen en hem dientengevolge niet heeft meegenomen met de evacuatie van het Nederlandse bataljon, en (ii) het verwijt dat de Staat (Dutchbat) zijn broer Muhamed en daarmee zijn vader Ibro van de compound heeft gestuurd.

3.4  De rechtbank heeft de vorderingen van Nuhanović afgewezen. Zij honoreerde het verweer van de Staat dat het optreden van Dutchbat uitsluitend aan de Verenigde Naties — en dus niet (mede) aan de Staat — moet worden toegerekend, en oordeelde dat dit betekent dat de Staat niet aansprakelijk kan worden gehouden voor een eventueel door Dutchbat gepleegde onrechtmatige daad.

3.5.1  Het hof heeft het vonnis van de rechtbank vernietigd en voor recht verklaard dat de Staat jegens Nuhanović uit hoofde van onrechtmatige daad aansprakelijk is voor de schade die hij heeft geleden en zal lijden als gevolg van de dood van Muhamed en Ibro Nuhanović. Het hof oordeelde dat het aan Dutchbat verweten optreden aan de Staat kan worden toegerekend.

3.5.2  Het hof heeft deze toerekening als volgt gemotiveerd (rov. 5.1–5.20 tussenarrest).

Het criterium met betrekking tot de vraag of het optreden van Dutchbat aan de Verenigde Naties dan wel aan de Staat moet worden toegerekend, is wie van beiden effective control over Dutchbat had op het moment van het in dit geding bedoelde optreden. De algemeen aanvaarde opvatting is dat, indien een Staat troepen ter beschikking stelt aan de Verenigde Naties voor het uitvoeren van een vredesmissie, het antwoord op de vraag aan wie een specifiek optreden van dergelijke troepen moet worden toegerekend ervan afhankelijk is wie van beiden effective control heeft over het desbetreffende optreden. Algemeen aanvaard wordt dat het mogelijk is dat meer dan een partij effective control heeft zodat niet uitgesloten is dat toepassing van dit criterium ertoe leidt dat toerekening aan meer dan één partij kan plaatsvinden. Dit bracht het hof ertoe alleen te onderzoeken of de Staat effective control uitoefende over het verweten optreden en in het midden te laten of ook de Verenigde Naties effective control bezat.

Vervolgens heeft het hof geconcludeerd dat de Staat effective control bezat over het optreden dat Nuhanović aan Dutchbat verwijt, zodat dit optreden aan de Staat kan worden toegerekend.

3.5.3  Ten aanzien van de gestelde onrechtmatigheid van het optreden van Dutchbat heeft het hof onder meer het volgende overwogen (rov. 6.1–6.21 tussenarrest).

Dutchbat had aan het begin van de avond van 13 juli 1995 niet mogen bewerkstelligen dat Muhamed de compound verliet, vanwege de wetenschap die Dutchbat inmiddels bezat over de risico’s waaraan Muhamed daardoor zou worden blootgesteld. Dit betekent niet dat hetzelfde geldt ten aanzien van de andere vluchtelingen die de compound reeds eerder hadden verlaten. Het hof heeft daarover geen uitspraak gedaan. Gelet op de — voor Dutchbat kenbare — ernstige consequenties die voor Muhamed aan het verlaten van de compound waren verbonden en gelet op de indringende verzoeken die Nuhanović namens zijn broer eerder had gedaan, had Dutchbat nogmaals, beoordeeld naar de situatie van dat moment, een afzonderlijke afweging moeten maken. Onvoldoende is gebleken dat het bezit van een VN-pas een voorwaarde voor evacuatie samen met Dutchbat was die de Bosnische Serviërs hadden gesteld. Bovendien is het hof ervan uitgegaan dat op de compound een VN-pas voor Muhamed had kunnen worden gemaakt.

Het hof heeft geconcludeerd dat de Staat, door te bewerkstelligen dat Muhamed de compound verliet en hem niet mee te nemen naar veilig gebied, als gevolg waarvan Muhamed de dood heeft gevonden, onrechtmatig jegens Nuhanović heeft gehandeld, zowel op grond van het nationale recht van Bosnië-Herzegovina als op grond van schending van het op verdragenrecht berustende recht op leven en het verbod op onmenselijke behandeling. De Staat is op grond van het nationale recht van Bosnië-Herzegovina aansprakelijk voor het optreden van de leden van Dutchbat. Toerekening aan de Staat volgt tevens uit het beginsel van effective control.

Ook voor de schade die Nuhanović heeft geleden wegens het overlijden van zijn vader acht het hof de Staat aansprakelijk. De dood van Ibro valt als gevolg van het onrechtmatig handelen inzake Muhamed aan de Staat toe te rekenen. In de gegeven omstandigheden was het immers voorzienbaar dat Ibro ervoor zou kiezen mee te gaan met zijn minderjarige zoon.

Ter toelichting van de stelling dat de Staat jegens Nasiha onrechtmatig heeft gehandeld, is volgens het hof onvoldoende gesteld. Als vrouw had zij volgens Nuhanović van de Serviërs niets te vrezen en zonder nadere toelichting, die ontbreekt, valt niet in te zien waarom Dutchbat haar niet van de compound had mogen laten vertrekken, aldus nog steeds het hof. Het oordeel van het hof met betrekking tot het handelen van de Staat jegens Nasiha is in cassatie niet bestreden.

Kan het optreden van Dutchbat aan de Staat worden toegerekend?

3.6.1  De onderdelen 1–3 van het middel richten klachten tegen de overwegingen en beslissingen van het hof in rov. 5.7–5.20 van het tussenarrest met betrekking tot de toerekening van het optreden van Dutchbat aan de Staat.

3.6.2  Het hof heeft het betoog van Nuhanović verworpen dat deze toerekening niet naar regels van internationaal gewoonterecht, maar naar nationaal Bosnisch recht moet plaatsvinden. Het overwoog daartoe dat het niet gaat om de vraag of militairen van Dutchbat jegens Nuhanović onrechtmatig hebben gehandeld, maar om de vraag of op grond van een al dan niet tussen de Staat en de Verenigde Naties gesloten overeenkomst tot het ter beschikking stellen van troepen, het optreden van deze militairen moet worden toegerekend aan de Staat, de Verenigde Naties of eventueel aan beide. De vraag of een dergelijke overeenkomst is gesloten, wat deze inhoudt en welke gevolgen deze heeft, ook voor de vraag welke partij civielrechtelijk voor het optreden van Dutchbat aansprakelijk is, moet worden beantwoord naar internationaal recht. (rov. 5.3 tussenarrest)

Deze oordelen worden in cassatie niet bestreden.

Dit betekent dat bij de beoordeling van de klachten die de Staat richt tegen het oordeel van het hof dat het verweten optreden van Dutchbat aan de Staat kan worden toegerekend, ervan moet worden uitgegaan dat deze toerekeningsvraag uitsluitend naar regels van internationaal recht dient te worden beantwoord.

3.7  Voor de vaststelling van de in het ongeschreven internationaal recht ontwikkelde regels die bepalen onder welke voorwaarden gedragingen kunnen worden toegerekend aan een staat respectievelijk een internationale organisatie, zal worden aangesloten bij twee door de International Law Commission van de Verenigde Naties (ILC) opgestelde regelingen: de Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts van 2001 (hierna: DARS) en de Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations van 2011 (hierna: DARIO).

3.8.1  Bij de beantwoording van de vraag of het verweten optreden van Dutchbat aan de Staat kan worden toegerekend, is in de eerste plaats van belang hetgeen is bepaald in de DARS, Part One ‘The internationally wrongful act of a State’, Chapter II ‘Attribution of conduct to a State’, waarvan art. 4 en 8, voor zover thans van belang, als volgt luiden:

Article 4  Conduct of organs of a State

  1. . The conduct of any State organ shall be considered an act of that State under international law, whether the organ exercises legislative, executive, judicial or any other functions, whatever position it holds in the organization of the State, and whatever its character as an organ of the central Government or of a territorial unit of the State.

  2. . (…)

Article 8  Conduct directed or controlled by a State

The conduct of a person or group of persons shall be considered an act of a State under international law if the person or group of persons is in fact acting on the instructions of, or under the direction or control of, that State in carrying out the conduct.

3.8.2  Uit art. 4 en 8 DARS volgt dat het optreden van Dutchbat aan de Staat kan worden toegerekend, indien Dutchbat dient te worden aangemerkt als organ van de Staat (art. 4 lid 1 DARS) dan wel indien Dutchbat bij zijn optreden feitelijk handelde on the instructions or under the direction or control van de Staat (art. 8 DARS).

3.9.1  In de procedure voor het hof heeft het debat tussen partijen zich toegespitst op de vraag of de omstandigheid dat Dutchbat door de Staat ter beschikking was gesteld aan de Verenigde Naties, meebrengt dat het optreden van Dutchbat niet — op de voet van art. 4 lid 1 of 8 DARS — aan de Staat kan worden toegerekend, maar uitsluitend aan de Verenigde Naties. In verband met dit laatste is van belang hetgeen is bepaald in de DARIO.

3.9.2  De art. 6 en 7 DARIO, die staan in Part Two ‘The internationally wrongful act of an international organization’, Chapter II ‘Attribution of conduct to an international organization’, luiden als volgt:

Article 6  Conduct of organs or agents of an international organization

  1. . The conduct of an organ or agent of an international organization in the performance of functions of that organ or agent shall be considered an act of that organization under international law, whatever position the organ or agent holds in respect of the organization.

  2. . The rules of the organization shall apply in the determination of the functions of its organs and agents.

Article 7  Conduct of organs of a State or organs or agents of an international organization placed at the disposal of another international organization

The conduct of an organ of a State or an organ or agent of an international organization that is placed at the disposal of another international organization shall be considered under international law an act of the latter organization if the organization exercises effective control over that conduct.

Art. 48 DARIO, dat staat in Part Four

‘The implementation of the international responsibility of an international organization’, Chapter I ‘Invocation of the responsibility of an international organization’, luidt, voor zover thans van belang, als volgt:

Article 48  Responsibility of an international organization and one or more States or international organizations

  1. . Where an international organization and one or more States or other international organizations are responsible for the same internationally wrongful act, the responsibility of each State or organization may be invoked in relation to that act.

  2. . (…)

3.9.3  In het bij art. 7 DARIO behorende Commentary wordt (onder 1) de verhouding van deze bepaling tot art. 6 DARIO als volgt toegelicht:

‘When an organ of a State is placed at the disposal of an international organization, the organ may be fully seconded to that organization. In this case the organ’s conduct would clearly be attributable only to the receiving organization. The same consequence would apply when an organ or agent of one international organization is fully seconded to another organization. In these cases, the general rule set out in article 6 would apply. Article 7 deals with the different situation in which the seconded organ or agent still acts to a certain extent as organ of the seconding State or as organ or agent of the seconding organization. This occurs for instance in the case of military contingents that a State places at the disposal of the United Nations for a peacekeeping operation, since the State retains disciplinary powers and criminal jurisdiction over the members of the national contingent. In this situation the problem arises whether a specific conduct of the seconded organ or agent is to be attributed to the receiving organization or to the seconding State or organization.’

3.9.4  In het Commentary bij Part Two, Chapter II DARIO (onder 4) wordt opgemerkt dat art. 6–9 DARIO niet noodzakelijkerwijs ertoe leiden dat een gedraging uitsluitend wordt toegerekend aan een internationale organisatie — hetgeen leidt tot exclusive responsibility van de internationale organisatie — maar dat deze bepalingen de mogelijkheid openlaten dat een gedraging wordt toegerekend aan een internationale organisatie én een staat — hetgeen dan leidt tot dual attribution aan de internationale organisatie en die staat:

‘Although it may not frequently occur in practice, dual or even multiple attribution of conduct cannot be excluded. Thus, attribution of a certain conduct to an international organization does not imply that the same conduct cannot be attributed to a State; nor does attribution of conduct to a State rule out attribution of the same conduct to an international organization. One could also envisage conduct being simultaneously attributed to two or more international organizations, for instance when they establish a joint organ and act through that organ.’

Hiermee strookt dat art. 48 lid 1 DARIO uitdrukkelijk de mogelijkheid openlaat dat meer dan één staat of organisatie in geval van een internationale onrechtmatige daad voor de gevolgen daarvan kan worden aangesproken.

3.9.5  Ten slotte wordt in het Commentary bij art. 7 DARIO (onder 4) opgemerkt:

‘The criterion for attribution of conduct either to the contributing State or organization or to the receiving organization is based according to article 7 on the factual control that is exercised over the specific conduct taken by the organ or agent placed at the receiving organization’s disposal. As was noted in the comment by one State, account needs to be taken of the “full factual circumstances and particular context”.’

3.10.1  Onderdeel 1 klaagt dat het hof in rov. 5.7 en 5.8 van het tussenarrest heeft miskend dat een VN-troepenmacht die is ingesteld krachtens Hoofdstuk VII van het VN-Handvest en onder command and control van de Verenigde Naties is gesteld — zoals in dit geval UNPROFOR, waarvan Dutchbat deel uitmaakte — een organ van de Verenigde Naties vormt. Dit betekent dat de toerekening van het optreden van een dergelijke troepenmacht moet geschieden aan de hand van art. 6 DARIO en niet aan de hand van art. 7 DARIO. Toepassing van art. 6 DARIO brengt mee dat het optreden van Dutchbat in beginsel steeds en uitsluitend aan de Verenigde Naties moet worden toegerekend, aldus het onderdeel.

3.10.2  Uit het Commentary bij art. 7 DARIO (zie hiervoor in 3.9.3) blijkt dat deze toerekeningsregel onder meer van toepassing is op de situatie dat een staat in het kader van een VN-vredesmissie troepen ter beschikking stelt aan de Verenigde Naties, waarbij command and control (de gezagsen bevelsverhouding) aan de Verenigde Naties worden overgedragen, maar de disciplinary powers and criminal jurisdiction (het organieke bevel) bij de zendstaat blijven berusten. In de vaststellingen van het hof ligt besloten dat deze situatie zich in het onderhavige geval voordoet. In rov. 5.10 van het tussenarrest heeft het hof immers — in cassatie onbestreden — vastgesteld dat niet in geschil is dat Nederland als troepenleverende staat zeggenschap behield over de personele aangelegenheden van de ter beschikking gestelde militairen, die bij de Staat in dienst bleven, alsmede de bevoegdheid behield deze militairen disciplinair en strafrechtelijk te straffen. De klacht van onderdeel 1 dat het hof heeft verzuimd de toerekeningsregel van art. 6 DARIO toe te passen en ten onrechte de toerekeningsregel van art. 7 DARIO heeft toegepast, treft dan ook geen doel.

3.11.1  Onderdeel 2 richt een reeks van klachten tegen de rov. 5.8–5.20 van het tussenarrest, waarin het hof bij de toepassing van de toerekeningsregel van art. 7 DARIO op het onderhavige geval, invulling heeft gegeven aan de maatstaf van effective control.

3.11.2  Voor zover aan deze klachten het betoog ten grondslag ligt dat het internationaal recht uitsluit dat een gedraging wordt toegerekend zowel aan een internationale organisatie als aan een staat, en dat het hof aldus ten onrechte ervan is uitgegaan dat de mogelijkheid zich voordeed dat zowel de Verenigde Naties als de Staat effective control over het verweten optreden van Dutchbat uitoefenden, berusten zij op een onjuiste rechtsopvatting. Zoals hiervoor in 3.9.4 is overwogen, sluit het internationaal recht, in het bijzonder art. 7 DARIO in verbinding met art. 48 lid 1 DARIO, de mogelijkheid van dual attribution van een bepaalde gedraging niet uit.

Daarom kon het hof in het midden laten of de Verenigde Naties effective control uitoefenden over het optreden van Dutchbat in de vroege avond van 13 juli 1995. Ook als dat het geval was, leidt dat immers niet noodzakelijkerwijs tot exclusive responsibility van de Verenigde Naties.

3.11.3  Voor zover deze klachten betogen dat het hof een onjuiste maatstaf heeft gehanteerd bij zijn beoordeling of de Staat op het moment van het verweten optreden effective control over Dutchbat uitoefende, berusten zij eveneens op een onjuiste rechtsopvatting. In dit verband is van belang dat voor het aannemen van effective control door de Staat niet is vereist dat de Staat door het geven van instructies aan Dutchbat de bevelsstructuur van de Verenigde Naties heeft doorbroken dan wel zelfstandig operationele bevelsbevoegdheid heeft uitgeoefend. Blijkens het hiervoor in 3.9.5 aangehaalde Commentary bij art. 7 DARIO komt het bij de toerekening van een gedraging aan de zendstaat of de internationale organisatie aan op de feitelijke zeggenschap (factual control) over het specifieke gedrag, waarbij alle feitelijke omstandigheden en de bijzondere context van het geval in ogenschouw moeten worden genomen. In de bestreden rechtsoverwegingen heeft het hof, in het licht van alle omstandigheden en de bijzondere context van het geval, onderzocht of de Staat de feitelijke zeggenschap had over het verweten optreden van Dutchbat. Aldus heeft het hof geen blijk gegeven van een onjuiste rechtsopvatting.

3.12.1  Onderdeel 3 komt met een reeks van klachten op tegen het oordeel van het hof in rov. 5.8–5.20 van het tussenarrest dat de Staat effective control had over het verweten optreden van Dutchbat.

3.12.2  Dit oordeel van het hof berust onder meer op de volgende feiten en omstandigheden:

  • —  De context waarin het verweten optreden van Dutchbat zich heeft afgespeeld, verschilt in een belangrijk opzicht van de normale situatie waarin door een staat ter beschikking gestelde troepen onder bevel van de Verenigde Naties functioneren. Na 11 juli 1995 was de missie om Srebrenica te beschermen mislukt. Er was geen sprake meer van dat Dutchbat of UNPROFOR in een andere samenstelling de missie zou voortzetten of hervatten. (rov. 5.11 tussenarrest)

  • —  Op 11 juli 1995 is door (de Force Commander van) de Verenigde Naties en de Nederlandse regering in onderling overleg besloten Dutchbat met de vluchtelingen te evacueren (rov. 5.11–5.16).

  • —  Vanaf 11 juli 1995 trad een overgangsperiode in, waarin de zaken in Potočári werden afgewikkeld.

    Een belangrijk onderdeel van de na 11 juli 1995 resterende taak van Dutchbat vormde de hulp aan en de evacuatie van de vluchtelingen. (rov. 5.17)

  • —  Tijdens deze overgangsperiode had naast de Verenigde Naties ook de Nederlandse regering in Den Haag zeggenschap over Dutchbat en oefende deze in de praktijk daadwerkelijk uit. De Nederlandse regering was nauw betrokken bij de evacuatie van Dutchbat en van de vluchtelingen alsmede de voorbereidingen daarop, en zij had de verweten gedragingen kunnen voorkomen indien zij daarvan tijdig op de hoogte was geweest. (rov. 5.18)

  • —  De verwijten van Nuhanović, vermeld hiervoor in 3.3, houden verband met de wijze waarop door Dutchbat uitvoering is gegeven aan (instructies van de Nederlandse regering ten aanzien van) de evacuatie van de vluchtelingen (rov. 5.19).

3.12.3  Het oordeel van het hof dat de Staat effective control had over de door Nuhanović aan Dutchbat — en daarmee aan de Staat — verweten gedragingen geeft geen blijk van een onjuiste rechtsopvatting over het begrip effective control. Dat oordeel is ook alleszins begrijpelijk gemotiveerd, gelet op de daaraan door het hof ten grondslag gelegde overwegingen, zoals hiervoor in 3.12.2 weergegeven. De omstandigheid dat de missie in feite was mislukt en dat Dutchbat daarom geen invloed meer kon doen gelden buiten de compound, doet niet eraan af dat de Staat wel effective control over de gedragingen van Dutchbat op de compound had. Daarop stuiten de klachten van onderdeel 3 af.

3.13  Hetgeen hiervoor is overwogen, leidt tot de slotsom dat de onderdelen 2 en 3 tevergeefs opkomen tegen het oordeel van het hof dat de Staat effective control had over de door Nuhanović aan Dutchbat — en daarmee aan de Staat — verweten gedragingen. Bij deze stand van zaken kon het hof op grond van de toerekeningsregel van art. 7 DARIO, die op dit geval van toepassing is — mede in het licht van hetgeen is bepaald in de toerekeningsregel van art. 8 DARS — tot het oordeel komen dat naar regels van internationaal recht het verweten optreden van Dutchbat aan de Staat kan worden toegerekend.

3.14  De overige klachten van de onderdelen 2 en 3 kunnen evenmin tot cassatie leiden. Dit behoeft, gezien art. 81 lid 1 RO, geen nadere motivering nu die klachten niet nopen tot beantwoording van rechtsvragen in het belang van de rechtseenheid of de rechtsontwikkeling.

Onderdeel 4 bouwt voort op de onderdelen 1–3 en moet hun lot delen.

Was het optreden van Dutchbat onrechtmatig?

3.15.1  De onderdelen 5–9 van het middel richten klachten tegen de overwegingen en beslissingen van het hof in rov. 6.3–6.21 van het tussenarrest met betrekking tot de beoordeling van de verwijten die Nuhanović aan de Staat heeft gemaakt.

3.15.2  Deze verwijten zijn (i) dat Dutchbat heeft geweigerd Muhamed Nuhanović op de lijst met lokaal personeel te plaatsen en hem dientengevolge niet heeft meegenomen met de evacuatie van het Nederlandse bataljon en (ii) dat Dutchbat Muhamed Nuhanović en daarmee Ibro Nuhanović van de compound heeft gestuurd. Blijkens rov. 6.3 van het tussenarrest heeft het hof deze verwijten beoordeeld aan de hand van twee normenstelsels. In de eerste plaats heeft het hof het verweten optreden van Dutchbat getoetst aan de bepalingen van het nationale recht van Bosnië-Herzegovina, welk recht volgens het hof naar Nederlands internationaal privaatrecht op de gestelde onrechtmatige daad van toepassing is. In de tweede plaats heeft het hof dit optreden getoetst aan de rechtsbeginselen die besloten liggen in art. 2 en 3 EVRM en art. 6 en 7 IVBPR (respectievelijk het recht op leven en het verbod op onmenselijke behandeling), omdat deze beginselen moeten worden beschouwd als regels van internationaal gewoonterecht die universele gelding hebben en waaraan de Staat is gebonden.

3.15.3  Blijkens rov. 6.20 van het tussenarrest heeft het hof geoordeeld dat de Staat, door te bewerkstelligen dat Muhamed de compound verliet en hem niet mee te nemen naar veilig gebied, waardoor Muhamed de dood heeft gevonden, onrechtmatig jegens Nuhanović heeft gehandeld, zowel op grond van art. 154 Wet op het Verbintenissenrecht van Bosnië-Herzegovina als op grond van schending van het recht op leven en het verbod op onmenselijke behandeling.

Vervolgens was het hof van oordeel dat de Staat op grond van art. 171 lid 1 Wet op het Verbintenissenrecht van Bosnië-Herzegovina aansprakelijk is voor het optreden van de leden van Dutchbat, die de schade in the course of their work or in connection with work hebben veroorzaakt. Toerekening aan de Staat volgt volgens het hof tevens uit het voormelde beginsel van effective control.

Voorts heeft het hof geoordeeld dat de Staat op grond van art. 155 Wet op het Verbintenissenrecht van Bosnië-Herzegovina aansprakelijk is voor de immateriële schade die Nuhanović als gevolg van de dood van Muhamed heeft geleden en mogelijk nog lijdt.

Ten slotte heeft het hof de Staat ook aansprakelijk geacht voor de schade die Nuhanović heeft geleden wegens het overlijden van zijn vader, omdat diens dood als gevolg van het onrechtmatig handelen ten aanzien van Muhamed, aan de Staat valt toe te rekenen.

3.15.4  In rov. 6.21 van het tussenarrest is het hof tot de slotsom gekomen dat de vordering van Nuhanović in die zin zal worden toegewezen dat voor recht wordt verklaard dat de Staat jegens Nuhanović uit hoofde van onrechtmatige daad aansprakelijk is voor de schade die hij heeft geleden en zal lijden als gevolg van de dood van Muhamed en Ibro Nuhanović.

3.15.5  De onderdelen 5–9 van het middel bestrijden niet de hiervoor in 3.15.2 weergegeven beslissing van het hof om het verweten optreden van Dutchbat te beoordelen aan de hand van, enerzijds, het nationale recht van Bosnië-Herzegovina en, anderzijds, de rechtsbeginselen die besloten liggen in art. 2 en 3 EVRM en art. 6 en 7 IVBPR (respectievelijk het recht op leven en het verbod op onmenselijke behandeling).

Evenmin klagen de onderdelen 5–9 over onjuistheid van de hiervoor in 3.15.3 weergegeven oordelen van het hof voor zover deze inhouden dat toepassing van het nationale recht van Bosnië-Herzegovina meebrengt (i) dat de Staat jegens Nuhanović onrechtmatig heeft gehandeld, door te bewerkstelligen dat Muhamed de compound verliet en hem niet mee te nemen naar veilig gebied, waardoor Muhamed de dood heeft gevonden, (ii) dat de Staat aansprakelijk is voor het optreden van de leden van Dutchbat, (iii) dat de Staat aansprakelijk is voor de immateriële schade die Nuhanović als gevolg van de dood van Muhamed heeft geleden en mogelijk nog lijdt, en (iv) dat de Staat ook aansprakelijk is voor de schade die Nuhanović heeft geleden wegens het overlijden van zijn vader. Overigens belet art. 79 lid 1, aanhef en onder b, RO dat in cassatie de juistheid wordt onderzocht van deze oordelen van het hof voor zover zij berusten op toepassing van het nationale recht van Bosnië-Herzegovina.

Voor zover de onderdelen 5–9 zich met motiveringsklachten keren tegen de beoordeling van het verweten optreden van Dutchbat aan de hand van het nationale recht van Bosnië-Herzegovina, verdient opmerking dat dergelijke klachten zich in dit geval niet laten beoordelen zonder daarbij ook de juistheid van het oordeel van het hof omtrent de inhoud en de uitleg van dat recht te betrekken, hetgeen meebrengt dat deze motiveringsklachten eveneens afstuiten op art. 79 lid 1, aanhef en onder b, RO.

Het vorenstaande brengt mee dat de hiervoor in 3.15.4 weergegeven slotsom waartoe het hof is gekomen, zelfstandig steunt op de in cassatie niet dan wel tevergeefs bestreden oordelen van het hof met betrekking tot het nationale recht van Bosnië-Herzegovina.

De klachten die de onderdelen 5–9 richten tegen de beoordeling van het verweten optreden van Dutchbat aan de hand van de rechtsbeginselen die besloten liggen in art. 2 en 3 EVRM en art. 6 en 7 IVBPR (respectievelijk het recht op leven en het verbod op onmenselijke behandeling), kunnen dan ook niet tot cassatie leiden.

3.16  De Hoge Raad ziet aanleiding om naar aanleiding van de onderdelen 5–9 ten overvloede het navolgende te overwegen.

3.17.1  Onderdeel 5 strekt ten betoge dat aan beoordeling van het verweten optreden van Dutchbat aan de hand van de rechtsbeginselen die besloten liggen in art. 2 en 3 EVRM en art. 6 en 7 IVBPR in de weg staat dat de Staat in Srebrenica en op de compound in Potočári geen rechtsmacht als bedoeld in art. 1 EVRM en art. 2 lid 1 IVBPR had. Dit betoog faalt.

3.17.2  Blijkens rechtspraak van het EHRM is niet uitgesloten dat een verdragsluitende staat in buitengewone omstandigheden ook buiten zijn grondgebied de in art. 1 EVRM bedoelde rechtsmacht heeft (vgl. EHRM 7 juli 2011, nr. 55721/07, NJ 2012/430 (Al-Skeini e.a./Verenigd Koninkrijk)).

3.17.3  In dit geval vloeide de aanwezigheid van Dutchbat in Srebrenica en op de compound in Potočári voort uit de deelname van Nederland aan UNPROFOR, terwijl UNPROFOR zijn bevoegdheid tot optreden in Srebrenica ontleende aan de tussen de Verenigde Naties en Bosnië-Herzegovina gesloten Agreement on the status of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (zie rov. 2.6 van het tussenarrest). Een en ander brengt mee dat de Staat bevoegd was om door middel van Dutchbat op de compound rechtsmacht in de zin van art. 1 EVRM uit te oefenen.

Voorts kan niet worden gezegd dat de Staat na de val van de enclave op 11 juli 1995 en meer in het bijzonder op het moment van het aan Dutchbat verweten optreden, in de feitelijke onmogelijkheid verkeerde om op de compound rechtsmacht als vorenbedoeld uit te oefenen. Het hof is blijkens de door hem tot uitgangspunt genomen feiten ervan uitgegaan dat het Bosnisch-Servische leger het gezag van Dutchbat over de compound waarop Dutchbat zich had teruggetrokken, tot het vertrek van Dutchbat op21 juli 1995 heeft gerespecteerd. Die feiten bieden voldoende grondslag voor het oordeel dat de Staat, door middel van Dutchbat, daadwerkelijk in staat is geweest toe te zien op de naleving jegens Muhamed en Ibro Nuhanović van de in art. 2 en 3 EVRM en art. 6 en 7 IVBPR verankerde mensenrechten.

3.18.1  De onderdelen 7 en 9 betogen dat het hof in rov. 6.8 en 6.11–6.14 van het tussenarrest ten onrechte met kennis achteraf het optreden van Dutchbat heeft beoordeeld. Het hof had dienen te beoordelen of Dutchbat, gelet op hetgeen de leiding daarvan op het moment van het verweten optreden bekend was, in redelijkheid heeft kunnen besluiten en handelen zoals het heeft gedaan, welke maatstaf het hof in rov. 6.18 van het tussenarrest wél heeft aangelegd. In dit verband bepleiten de onderdelen een ‘terughoudende toetsing’ door de rechter, in het bijzonder nu sprake was van een oorlogssituatie, Dutchbat ter plaatse geen rechtsmacht had en de leiding van Dutchbat ook diende te waken voor de veiligheid van de personen werkzaam bij Dutchbat.

3.18.2  De onderdelen missen feitelijke grondslag voor zover zij klagen dat het hof het optreden van Dutchbat met kennis achteraf heeft beoordeeld. Blijkens rov. 6.8, 6.11–6.14 en 6.18 van het tussenarrest heeft het hof telkens de in de onderdelen bepleite maatstaf aangelegd of Dutchbat, gelet op hetgeen Dutchbat destijds bekend was, in redelijkheid heeft kunnen besluiten en handelen zoals het heeft gedaan.

3.18.3  Voor zover de onderdelen het hof verwijten de noodzaak van een terughoudende toetsing te hebben miskend, treffen zij evenmin doel, nu voor een dergelijke terughoudende toetsing geen grondslag kan worden gevonden in het ongeschreven internationaal recht, het EVRM dan wel het IVBPR, en overigens ook niet in het nationale Nederlandse recht.

De door de onderdelen bepleite terughoudende toetsing zou meebrengen dat voor de beoordeling door de rechter van de gevolgen van het optreden van een troepenmacht in het kader van een vredesmissie — in dit geval: de aan Dutchbat en daarmee de Staat verweten gedragingen — nagenoeg geen ruimte zou bestaan. Een zo vergaande terughoudendheid is onaanvaardbaar. Dat wordt niet anders doordat de Staat hiervan nadelige gevolgen verwacht voor de uitvoering van vredesoperaties door de Verenigde Naties en meer in het bijzonder voor de bereidheid van lidstaten om troepen voor dergelijke operaties ter beschikking te stellen. Dit behoort immers niet in de weg te staan aan de mogelijkheid van rechterlijke beoordeling achteraf van gedragingen van de desbetreffende troepenmacht. Daarbij dient de rechter inderdaad te verdisconteren dat het hier gaat om onder grote druk in een oorlogssituatie genomen beslissingen, maar dit heeft het hof niet miskend.

3.19  De onderdelen 10 en 11 bouwen voort op de voorafgaande onderdelen en moeten dus hun lot delen.

Beslissing

De Hoge Raad:

verwerpt het beroep;

veroordeelt de Staat in de kosten van het geding in cassatie, tot op deze uitspraak aan de zijde van Nuhanović begroot op € 373,34 aan verschotten en € 2.200,— voor salaris.

Dit arrest is gewezen door de vice-president F.B. Bakels als voorzitter en de raadsheren C.A. Streefkerk, M.A. Loth, C.E. Drion en M.V. Polak, en in het openbaar uitgesproken door de vice-president F.B. Bakels op 6 september 2013.