Accountability of Armed Opposition Groups in International Law

By Liesbeth Zegveld | Go to book overview
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4
Accountability of armed opposition
groups as such

In order to enforce international law applicable to armed opposition groups effectively, we should be able to involve the group itself as a collectivity. Indeed, the acts that are labelled as international crimes find their basis in the collectivity. These crimes are unlikely to be prevented nor will compliance with the relevant provisions of international law be significantly improved through punishment of one single individual. Therefore, the most challenging level of accountability is the accountability of armed opposition groups as such.

To make armed opposition groups themselves accountable under international law raises a host of problems. The principle that armed opposition groups may be held accountable for wrongful acts committed by them has been recognized.1 But a number of difficulties remain to be resolved. For one thing, there is the important threshold question of defining armed groups, namely the threshold as to their level of organization

____________________
1
Article 14(3) of the International Law Commission Draft Articles on State Responsibility, A/51/10 (1996) (Draft Articles provisionally adopted by the Commission on first reading), text available on www.law.cam.ac.uk/rcil/ILCSR/Statresp.htm (visited, 1 January 2001) (hereafter, ILC Draft Articles on State Responsibility 1996) provides: 'Similarly, paragraph 1 is without prejudice to the attribution of the conduct of the organ of the insurrectional movement to that movement in any case in which such attribution may be made under international law.' This paragraph has been deleted in the Draft Articles provisionally adopted on second reading by the Drafting Committee in 1998, UN Doc. A/CN.4/L.569 (4 August 1998) (hereafter, ILC Draft Articles on State Responsibility 1998). The reason is, according to the report of the Special Rapporteur, that this provision is concerned with movements, which are, 'ex hypothesi', not states. Therefore it falls outside the scope of the Draft Articles. The Rapporteur observed that, while the responsibility of insurrectional movements can be envisaged, for example, for violations of international humanitarian law, it can be dealt with in the commentary to the Draft Articles, First Report on State Responsibility by James Crawford, Special Rapporteur A/CN.4/490 (1998) (hereafter, 1998 First Report Special Rapporteur on State Responsibility).

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