The armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia1 have been in many respects a turning point and a challenge for international law. For International Humanitarian Law2 this is true not only because it has been systematically violated, as in many other past and contemporary conflicts, but also particularly because never before has International Humanitarian Law so frequently been invoked by the parties to the conflicts and, to a lesser extent, by third States and often abusively or at least wrongly. In addition, in no other conflict has International Humanitarian Law been so often mentioned in resolutions of the UN Security Council—and neither always correctly nor consistently. Finally, this is true because never before have the international society, i.e., States, and the international community deployed so many efforts to enforce International Humanitarian Law, including establishing for the first time since World War II a tribunal to try the violators: the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).3 In this tribunal, the late Judge and Professor Li Haopei played an important role as a member of the Appeals Chamber. It may therefore be appropriate to honour his memory with a contribution enquiring into how the
* This article was completed in August 1999. The views expressed in this article are exclusively those of the author who would like to thank his former colleague Ms. Laura Olson for having revised and edited a first version of this text.
1 For a brief history, see Part IV below.
2 International humanitarian law of armed conflicts is the branch of international law protecting the victims of armed conflicts.
3 The International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, established by the Security Council through Resolution 827 (1993) of 25 May 1993 and functioning under a Statute originally published as an Annex to the Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 2 of Security Council resolution 808 (1993), S/25704, and approved by the Security Council.