A lot of my current work is concerned with the legal aspects of peace support operations. It was therefore with much anticipation that I accepted an invitation to present on the challenges of attribution in the context of peace operations as part of a one-day workshop on the ‘Rule of Law and Accountability in Peacekeeping’ held on 28 January 2014 in Berlin. The workshop was jointly convened by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the United Nations Association of Germany and the Center for International Peace Operations.
I have written on various aspects of the attribution problem before, including the Behrami case and on some of the shortcomings of DARIO. However, on this occasion I decided to take a step back and look at the recent case-law as a whole. The striking thing is that international practice does not seem to be converging around a single model of attribution, but remains utterly inconsistent. The gulf between the approaches taken at the different stages of the Nuhanović case, for instance, or the approaches adopted by the Dutch and the German courts, is remarkable and calls for further work. Many thanks to the participants for a fascinating discussion and the organizers for convening a great event!
Below follows ZIF’s write-up of the event.
Who is Accountable in Peace Operations? Joint Workshop by ZIF, FES and DGVN
Entitled „Rule of Law and Accountability in Peacekeeping“, the workshop on January 28, 2014 brought together researchers and practitioners as well as policy makers and public administrators for an exchange of ideas and to discuss questions of accountability and compensation in peace operations.
Various things can go wrong in peace operations – thinking of car accidents, or even an outbreak of a pandemic, as the recent Cholera epidemic in Haiti has demonstrated. Questions of compensation and liability often remain unclear – both within the United Nations as well as within other International Organizations. Verdicts like the one recently reached by a Dutch court on the Srebrenica case are still the exception rather than the rule, but are a case in point.
Moreover, during the workshop new research projects in the areas of rule of law and accountability of peacekeepers were introduced and participants discussed broader developments in peace operations both within the United Nations or directly on the ground. Specifically, young academics used the opportunity to present their work and to discuss with a bigger audience.
Additionally, the workshop featured a presentation of the Annual Review of Global Peace Operations 2013 published by the Center on International Cooperation at New York University (CIC). CIC’s Alischa Kugel outlined the major developments in the peacekeeping field during the year 2013. Looking ahead, ZIF’s Tobias von Gienanth charted some possible future developments and crucial dates to watch in the year 2014, trying to provide the audience with some “headlines before they happen.”