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Command responsibility

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Title: Command responsibility  
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Subject: Superior orders, International Criminal Law, War crime, Torture and the United States, Crime of aggression
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Command responsibility

Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes committed during wartime.[1][2][3][4]

The term may also be used more broadly to refer to the duty to supervise subordinates, and liability for the failure to do so, both in government, military law, and with regard to corporations and trusts.

The doctrine of "command responsibility" was established by the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and was applied for the first time by the German Supreme Court at the Leipzig War Crimes Trials after World War I, in the 1921 trial of Emil Müller.[5][6][7]

The "Yamashita standard" is based upon the precedent set by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita. He was prosecuted in 1945, in a still controversial trial, for atrocities committed by troops under his command in the Philippines during the Pacific Theater of World War II. Yamashita was charged with "unlawfully disregarding and failing to discharge his duty as a commander to control the acts of members of his command by permitting them to commit war crimes."[8][9]

The "Medina standard" is based upon the 1971 prosecution of U.S. Army Captain Ernest Medina in connection with the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.[10] It holds that a commanding officer, being aware of a human rights violation or a war crime, will be held criminally liable when he does not take action. However, Medina was acquitted of all charges.[8][11][12]


Developing accountability

Hagenbach on trial, from Berner Chronik des Diebold Schilling dem Älteren

In The Art of War, written during the 6th century BC, Sun Tzu argued that it was a commander's duty to ensure that his subordinates conducted themselves in a civilised manner during an armed conflict. Similarly, in the Bible (Kings 1: Chapter 21), within the story of Ahab and the killing of Naboth, King Ahab was blamed for the killing of Naboth on orders from Queen Jezebel, because Ahab (as king) is responsible for everyone in his kingdom.

The trial of Peter von Hagenbach by an ad hoc tribunal of the Holy Roman Empire in 1474, was the first "international" recognition of commanders' obligations to act lawfully.[13][14] Hagenbach was put on trial for atrocities committed during the occupation of Breisach, found guilty of war crimes and beheaded.[15] Since he was convicted for crimes "he as a knight was deemed to have a duty to prevent" Hagenbach defended himself by arguing that he was only following orders[16][17] from the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, to whom the Holy Roman Empire had given Breisach.[18] Despite the fact there was no explicit use of a doctrine of "command responsibility" it is seen as the first trial based on this principle.[15][19]

During the American Civil War, the concept developed further, as is seen in the "Lieber Code". This regulated accountability by imposing criminal responsibility on commanders for ordering or encouraging soldiers to wound or kill already disabled enemies.[16][19] Article 71 of the Lieber Code provided that:

Whoever intentionally inflicts additional wounds on an enemy already wholly disabled, or kills such an enemy, or who orders or encourages soldiers to do so, shall suffer death, if duly convicted, whether he belongs to the Army of the United States, or is an enemy captured after having committed his misdeed.[20][21]

The Hague Convention of 1899 was the first attempt at codifying the principle of command responsibility on a multinational level and was reaffirmed and updated entirely by the Hague Convention of 1907. The doctrine was specifically found within "Laws and Customs of War on Land" (Hague IV); October 18, 1907: "Section I on Belligerents: Chapter I The Qualifications of Belligerents", "Section III Military Authority over the territory of the hostile State",[22] and "Adaptation to Maritime War of the Principles of the Geneva Convention" (Hague X); October 18, 1907.[23] Article 1 of Section I of the 1907 Hague IV stated that:

The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteer corps fulfilling the following conditions:
  • To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
  • To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;
  • To carry arms openly; and
  • To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

Another example of command responsibility is shown in Article 43 of Section III of the same convention which stipulated that:

The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.

In "Adaptation to Maritime War of the Principles of the Geneva Convention" (Hague X), Article 19 stated that:

The commanders in chief of the belligerent fleets must arrange for the details of carrying out the preceding articles, as well as for cases not covered thereby, in accordance with the instructions of their respective Governments and in conformity with the general principles of the present Convention.

While the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 does not explicitly create a doctrine of command responsibility, it does uphold a notion that a superior must account for their actions of his subordinates. It also suggests that military superiors have a duty to ensure that their troops act in accordance with international law and if they fail to command them lawfully, their respective states may be held criminally liable. In turn, those states may choose to punish their commanders. At such, the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 has been viewed as a foundational root of modern doctrine of command responsibility.[21][24] After World War I, the Allied Powers' Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on the Enforcement of Penalties recommended the establishment of an international tribunal, which would try individuals for "order[ing], or, with knowledge thereof and with power to intervene, abstain[ing] from preventing or taking measures to prevent, putting an end to or repressing, violations of the laws or customs of war."[19]

Introducing responsibility for an omission

Command responsibility is an omission mode of individual criminal liability: the superior is responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates and for failing to prevent or punish (as opposed to crimes he ordered). In re Yamashita before a United States military commission in 1945, General Yamashita became the first to be charged solely on the basis of responsibility for an omission. He was commanding the 14th Area Army of Japan in the Philippines during the Pacific Theater of World War II when some of the Japanese troops engaged in atrocities against thousands of civilians and prisoners of war. As commanding officer, he was charged with "unlawfully disregarding and failing to discharge his duty as a commander to control the acts of members of his command by permitting them to commit war crimes."

By finding Yamashita guilty, the Commission adopted a new standard, stating that where "vengeful actions are widespread offences and there is no effective attempt by a commander to discover and control the criminal acts, such a commander may be held responsible, even criminally liable." However, the ambiguous wording resulted in a long-standing debate about the amount of knowledge required to establish command responsibility. The matter was appealed, and was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in 1946.[25] After sentencing, Yamashita was executed.

Following In re Yamashita, courts clearly accepted that a commander's actual knowledge of unlawful actions is sufficient to impose individual criminal responsibility.[8][19]

In the High Command Case (1947–8), the U.S. military tribunal argued that in order for a commander to be criminally liable for the actions of his subordinates "there must be a personal dereliction" which "can only occur where the act is directly traceable to him or where his failure to properly supervise his subordinates constitutes criminal negligence on his part" based upon "a wanton, immoral disregard of the action of his subordinates amounting to acquiescence".[6][8][19]

In the Hostage Case (1947–8), the U.S. military tribunal seemed to limit the situations where a commander has a duty to know to instances where he has already had some information regarding subordinates' unlawful actions.[6][8][19]

After World War II, the parameters of command responsibility were thus increased, imposing liability on commanders for their failure to prevent the commission of crimes by their subordinates. These cases – the latter two part of the Nürnberg tribunals – discussed explicitly the requisite standard of mens rea, and were unanimous in finding that a lesser level of knowledge than actual knowledge may be sufficient.[19]


The first international treaty to comprehensively codify the doctrine of command responsibility was the Additional Protocol I ("AP I") of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.[5][7][8] Article 86(2) states that:

the fact that a breach of the Conventions or of this Protocol was committed by a subordinate does not absolve his superiors from ... responsibility ... if they knew, or had information which should have enabled them to conclude in the circumstances at the time, that he was committing or about to commit such a breach and if they did not take all feasible measures within their power to prevent or repress the breach.

Article 87 obliges a commander to "prevent and, where necessary, to suppress and report to competent authorities" any violation of the Conventions and of AP I.

In Article 86(2) for the first time a provision would "explicitly address the knowledge factor of command responsibility".[6][8][19]


In the discussion regarding "command responsibility" the term "command" can be defined as

A. De jure (legal) command, which can be both military and civilian. The determining factor here is not rank but subordination. Four structures are identified:[5][6]

  1. Policy command: heads of state, high-ranking government officials, monarchs
  2. Strategic command: War Cabinet, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  3. Operational command: military leadership. In Yamashita it was established that operational command responsibility cannot be ceded for the purpose of the doctrine of command responsibility; operational commanders must exercise the full potential of their authority to prevent war crimes – failure to supervise subordinates or non-assertive orders does not exonerate the commander.
  4. Tactical command: direct command over troops on the ground

International case law has developed two special types of "de jure commanders."

  1. Prisoners-of-war (POW) camp commanders: the ICTY established in Aleksovski that POW camp commanders are entrusted with the welfare of all prisoners, and subordination in this case is irrelevant.
  2. Executive commanders: supreme governing authority in the occupied territory. Subordination is again irrelevant – their responsibility is the welfare of the population in the territory under their control, as established in the High Command and Hostages cases after World War II.

B. De facto (factual) command, which specifies effective control, as opposed to formal rank. This needs a superior-subordinate relationship. Indicia are:[5][6]

  1. Capacity to issue orders.
  2. Power of influence: influence is recognized as a source of authority in the Ministries case before the US military Tribunal after World War II.
  3. Evidence stemming from distribution of tasks: the ICTY has established the Nikolic test – superior status is deduced from analyzing distribution of tasks within the unit, and the test applies both to operational and POW camp commanders.

Additional Protocol I and the Statutes of the ICTY, the ICTR, and the ICC makes prevention or prosecution of crimes mandatory.[5]

Application of command responsibility

Nuremberg Tribunal

Following World War II, communis opinio was that the atrocities committed by the Nazis were so severe a special tribunal had to be held. However, contemporary jurists such as Harlan Fiske Stone criticized the Nuremberg Trials as victor's justice. The Nuremberg Charter determined the basis to prosecute people for:[16]

Crime Description
Crimes against peace the planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.
War crimes violations of the laws and customs of war. A list follows with, inter alia, murder, ill-treatment or deportation into slave labour or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, the killing of hostages, the plunder of public or private property, the wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
Crimes against humanity murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhuman acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

The [16]

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

The ICTY statute article 7 (3) establishes that the fact that crimes "were committed by a subordinate does not relieve his superior of criminal responsibility if he knew or had reason to know that the subordinate was about to commit such acts or had done so and the superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators."[19]

In The Prosecutor v. Delalić et al. ("the Čelebići case") first considered the scope of command responsibility by concluding that "had reason to know" (article 7(3)) means that a commander must have "had in his possession information of a nature, which at the least, would put him on notice of the risk of ... offences by indicating the need for additional investigation in order to ascertain whether ... crimes were committed or were about to be committed by his subordinates."[6][8][19]

In The Prosecutor v. Blaškić ("the Blaškić case") this view was corroborated. However, it differed regarding mens rea required by AP I. The Blaškić Trial Chamber concluded that "had reason to know", as defined by the ICTY Statute, also imposes a stricter "should have known" standard of mens rea.[8][19]

The conflicting views of both cases were addressed by the Appeals Chambers in Čelebići and in a separate decision in Blaškić. Both rulings hold that some information of unlawfal acts by subordinates must be available to the commander following which he did not, or inadequately, discipline the perpetrator.[5][6][8][19]

The concept of command responsibility has developed significantly in the jurisprudence of the ICTY. One of the most recent judgements that extensively deals with the subject is the Halilović judgement [1] of 16 November 2005 (para. 22-100).

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 955 (1994) set up an international criminal tribunal to judge people responsible for the Rwandan Genocide and other serious violations of international law in Rwanda, or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states, between 1 January and 31 December 1994;[26] additional later resolutions expanded the scope and timeline of the tribunal. The tribunal has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The judgement against Jean-Paul Akayesu established rape as a war crime. Rape was placed in line with "other acts of serious bodily and mental harm"[27] rather than the historical view of rape as "a trophy of war."[28] Akayesu was held responsible for his actions and non-actions as mayor and police commander of a commune in which many Tutsis were killed, raped, tortured, and otherwise persecuted.

Another case prosecuted persons in charge of a radio station and a newspaper that incited and then encouraged the Rwandan genocide. The defendants were charged with genocide, incitement to genocide, and crimes against humanity for their positions of control and command in the "hate media," although they physically had not committed the acts.

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court in The Hague

Following several ad hoc tribunals, the international community decided on a comprehensive court of justice for future crimes against humanity. This resulted in the International Criminal Court, which identified four categories.[16]

  1. Genocide
  2. Crimes against humanity
  3. War crimes
  4. Crimes of aggression

Article 28 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court codified the doctrine of command responsibility.[8] With Article 28(a) military commanders are imposed with individual responsibility for crimes committed by forces under their effective command and control if they:

either knew or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that the forces were committing or about to commit such crimes.[7][8][19]

It uses the stricter "should have known" standard of mens rea, instead of "had reason to know," as defined by the ICTY Statute.[6][19]

The Bush administration has adopted the American Servicemembers' Protection Act and entered in Article 98 agreements in an attempt to protect any US citizen from appearing before this court. As such it interferes with implementing the command responsibility principle when applicable to US citizens.[29]

War on terror

Manfred Nowak, United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, 2004-2010

A number of commentators have advanced the argument that the principle of "command responsibility" could make high-ranking officials within the Bush administration guilty of war crimes committed either with their knowledge or by persons under their control.[30]

As a reaction to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. government adopted several controversial measures (e.g., asserting "unlawful combatant" status and "enhanced interrogation methods"[31]).

Alberto Gonzales and others argued that detainees should be considered "unlawful combatants" and as such not be protected by the Geneva Conventions in multiple memoranda regarding these perceived legal gray areas.[32]

Gonzales' statement that denying coverage under the Geneva Conventions "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act" suggests, at the least, an awareness by those involved in crafting policies in this area that U.S. officials are involved in acts that could be seen to be war crimes.[33] The U.S. Supreme Court overruled the premise on which this argument is based in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in which it ruled that Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions applies to detainees in Guantanamo Bay, and that the Guantanamo military commission used to try these suspects were in violation of U.S. and international law because it was not created by Congress.[34]

On April 14, 2006, [38] This allegedly prompted recently retired Donald Rumsfeld to cancel a planned visit to Germany.

Former Army Lt. Ehren Watada refused to be deployed to Iraq based on his claims of command responsibility. Although his own deployment was not ordered until after Security Council Resolution 1511 authorized a multinational force in Iraq,[39] Watada argued that the invasion of Iraq was illegal, and as such he claimed he was bound by command responsibility to refuse to take part in an illegal war. He was discharged from the Army in 2009.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is seen as an amnesty law for crimes committed in the War on Terror by retroactively rewriting the War Crimes Act[40] and by abolishing habeas corpus, effectively making it impossible for detainees to challenge crimes committed against them.[41]

[42] even though under the Rome Statute the ICC has no jurisdiction over Bush, since the United States is not a State Party to the relevant treaty—unless Bush were accused of crimes inside a State Party, or the UN Security Council (where the United States has a veto) requested an investigation. However, Blair does fall under ICC jurisdiction as Britain is a State Party.

Nat Hentoff wrote on August 28, 2007, that a leaked report by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the July 2007 report by Human Rights First and Physicians for Social Responsibility, titled Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality, might be used as evidence of American war crimes if there was a Nuremberg-like trial regarding the War on Terror.[43]

Shortly before the end of President Bush's second term, newsmedia in other countries started opining that under the head of state immunity and under international law, the United States would now be mandated to start criminal proceedings against all those involved in these violations of the UN Convention Against Torture.[45] Law professor Dietmar Herz explained Nowak's comments by saying that under U.S. and international law former President Bush is criminally responsible for adopting torture as an interrogation tool.[45]

War in Darfur

Human Rights Watch commented on this conflict by stating that:

... individual commanders and civilian officials could be liable for failing to take any action to end abuses by their troops or staff ... The principle of command responsibility is applicable in internal armed conflicts as well as international armed conflicts.[46]

The Sunday Times in March 2006, and the Sudan Tribune in March 2008, reported that the UN Panel of Experts determined that Salah Gosh and Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein

had "command responsibility" for the atrocities committed by the multiple Sudanese security services.[47]

Following an inquiry by the United Nations, regarding allegations of involvement of the Government in genocide, the dossier was referred to the International Criminal Court.[47] On May 2, 2007, the ICC issued arrest warrants for militia leader Ali Muhammad al-Abd al-Rahman, of the Janjaweed, a.k.a. Ali Kushayb, and Ahmad Muhammad Haroun for crimes against humanity and war crimes.[47] To this day Sudan has refused to comply with the arrest warrants and has not turned them over to the ICC.[48]

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced on July 14, 2008, ten criminal charges against President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of sponsoring war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.[49] The ICC's prosecutors have charged al-Bashir with genocide because he "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part" three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity.[49] The ICC's prosecutor for Darfur, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is expected within months to ask a panel of ICC judges to issue an arrest warrant for Bashir.[49]


For his conduct as President of Zimbabwe, including allegations of torture and murder of political opponents, it is suggested Robert Mugabe may be prosecuted using this doctrine.[50] Because Zimbabwe has not subscribed to the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction it may be authorised by the United Nations Security Council. The precedent for this was set by its referral to bring indictments relating to the crimes committed in Darfur.[51] Otherwise, a Zimbabwean regime following Mugabe's would have jurisdiction over his alleged crimes (in the absence of any amnesty law) as would the numerous countries with universal jurisdiction over torture, including the UK.

See also


  1. ^ Guilty Associations: Joint Criminal Enterprise, Command Responsibility, and the Development of International Criminal Law Archived September 10, 2006 at the Wayback Machine by Allison Marston Danner and Jenny S. Martinez, September 15, 2004
  2. ^ Command Responsibility - An International Focus by Anne E. Mahle, PBS
  3. ^ Command, superior and ministerial responsibility by Robin Rowland, CBC News Online, May 6, 2004
  4. ^ Superior responsibility (Prosecutor v. Popović et al, ICTY TC II, 10 June 2010 (case no. IT-05-88-T). p. 511)
  5. ^ a b c d e f Command Responsibility: The Contemporary Law at the Wayback Machine by Iavor Rangelov and Jovan Nicic, Humanitarian Law Center, February 23, 2004
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Contemporary Law of Superior Responsibility by Ilias Bantekas American Journal of International Law, No 3 July 1999
  7. ^ a b c Joint Criminal Enterprise and Command Responsibility by Kai Ambos, Professor of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Comparative Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Göttingen; Judge at the State Court (Landgericht) Göttingen, Journal of International Criminal Justice, originally published online on January 25, 2007
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Command Responsibility and Superior Orders in the Twentieth Century - A Century of Evolution by, Stuart E Hendin, Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law
  9. ^ The Yamashita standard
    • Sugamo and the River Kwai By Robin Rowland, Paper presented to Encounters at Sugamo Prison, Tokyo 1945–52, The American Occupation of Japan and Memories of the Asia-Pacific War, Princeton University, May 9, 2003
    • The Yamashita Standard by Anne E. Mahle, PBS
  10. ^ United States v. Captain Ernest L. MedinaExcerpt of the Prosecution Brief on the Law of Principals in
  11. ^ The Medina standard
    • Human Rights and the Commander By Barry McCaffrey, autumn 1995
    • The My Lai Massacre: A Case Study By MAJ. Tony Raimondo, Human Rights Program, School of the Americas, Fort Benning, Georgia
  12. ^ "1971 Year in Review,"
  13. ^ The evolution of individual criminal responsibility under international law By Edoardo Greppi, Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Turin, Italy, International Committee of the Red Cross No. 835, p. 531–553, October 30, 1999.
  14. ^ Exhibit highlights the first international war crimes tribunal by Linda Grant, Harvard Law Bulletin.
  15. ^ a b An Introduction to the International Criminal Court William A. Schabas, Cambridge University Press, Third Edition
  16. ^ a b c d e Similarly, in the Bible (Kings 1: Chapter 21), with the story of Ahab and the killing of Naboth, Ahab was blamed for killing Naboth even though he didn't literally kill him. Just like Hagenbach, Ahab was blamed for killing Naboth because Ahab (the king) is responsible for everyone in his kingdom, including Jezebel (the queen) who literally gave the orders to kill Naboth. Also, even though Ahab claimed that he didn't know anything about it, he really did know that it was his wife (Jezebel) who gave the orders to kill Naboth. He knew this because it says in the bible (Kings 1: Chapter 21: Verse 7)"And Jezebel his wife said unto him: 'Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thy heart be merry; I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite." 1 The evolution of individual criminal responsibility under international law By Edoardo Greppi, Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Turin, Italy, International Committee of the Red Cross No. 835, p. 531–553, October 30, 1999.
  17. ^ Judge and master By Don Murray, CBC News, July 18, 2002.
  18. ^ The Perennial Conflict Between International Criminal Justice and Realpolitik February 10, 2006 Draft by M. Cherif Bassiouni -Distinguished Research Professor of Law and President, Georgia State University Law Review
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Command Responsibility The Mens Rea Requirement, By Eugenia Levine, Global Policy Forum, February 2005
  21. ^ a b Antonio Cassese (April 30, 2008). International Criminal Law.  
  22. ^ "Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land. The Hague, 18 October 1907.".  
  23. ^ "Adaptation to Maritime War of the Principles of the Geneva Convention (Hague X); October 18, 1907".  
  24. ^ Sienho Yee, ed. (2003). International Crime and Punishment: Selected Issues, Volume 1.  
  25. ^ U.S. Supreme Court (4 February 1946), APPLICATION OF YAMASHITA, 327 U.S. 1 (1946) [Full text of the opinion] 
  26. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 955. S/RES/955(1994) 8 November 1994. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  27. ^ The Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu (Trial Judgement), ICTR-96-4-T, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), 2 September 1998, p. 166 ¶.733. Available at: [accessed 13 April 2010]
  28. ^ Quoted in citation for honorary doctorate, Rhodes University, April 2005 accessed at [2] March 23, 2007
  29. ^ American Servicemembers' Protection Act
    • The Nuremberg Tribunal: Background Reading about the International Criminal Court by Michael P. Scharf
    • American Disengagement with the International Criminal Court: Undermining International Justice and U.S. Foreign Policy Goals by Emily Krasnor, The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution
    • The International Criminal Court: American Concerns About an International Prosecutor by Benjamin R. Dolin, Law and Government Division, Library of The Parliament of Canada, 14 May 2002
    • Chapter 9: Individual Accountability for Violations of Human Dignity: International Criminal Law and Beyond
  30. ^ US officials
    • Getting Away with Torture? Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees Human Rights Watch, April 2005 Vol. 17, No. 1
    • Accountability Absent in Prisoner Torture by John D. Hutson, Pioneer Press, February 28, 2006
    • THE MEMO How an internal effort to ban the abuse and torture of detainees was thwarted, by JANE MAYER, The New Yorker, Issue of February 27, 2006
    • War Crimes and Commanders-in-Chief George Bush and Tomoyuki Yamashita, By DAVE LINDORFF, CounterPunch, February 9, 2006
    • The Quaint Mr. Gonzales by Marjorie Cohn in La Prensa San Diego, November 19, 2004
    • Rumsfeld, Bush, and 'command responsibility'
    • From John Ashcroft's Justice Department to Abu Ghraib by Joe Conason article in Salon May 22, 2004
  31. ^ Prisoner abuse
    • Command's Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan at the Wayback Machine (archived October 2, 2006) by Human Rights First
    • Command Responsibility? by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith,Published by Institute for Policy Studies (IPS, online at, January 10, 2006
    • Abu Ghraib is a Command Responsibility By Ray McGovern Former CIA analyst, CounterPunch, October 1 / 2, 2005
  32. ^ "Parsing Pain" Walter Shapiro, Salon
  33. ^ War Crimes warnings
    • Torture and Accountability by Elizabeth Holtzman article in The Nation posted June 28, 2005 (July 18, 2005 issue) about The Geneva Convention
    • Former NY Congress member Holtzman Calls For President Bush and His Senior Staff To Be Held Accountable for Abu Ghraib Torture Thursday, June 30, 2005 on Democracy Now
    • Memos Reveal War Crimes Warnings By Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, May 19, 2004
    • US Lawyers Warn Bush on War Crimes Global Policy Forum January 28, 2003
  34. ^ The Gitmo Fallout: The fight over the Hamdan ruling heats up—as fears about its reach escalate. Michael Isikoff and Stuart Taylor, Jr., Newsweek, July 17, 2006
  35. ^ U.S.: Rumsfeld Potentially Liable for Torture Defense Secretary Allegedly Involved in Abusive Interrogation Human Rights Watch, April 14, 2006
  36. ^ The Real Meaning of the Hamdan Ruling Supreme Court: Bush Administration Has Committed War Crimes By Dave Lindorff, CounterPunch, July 3, 2006
  37. ^ Could Bush Be Prosecuted for War Crimes? By Jan Frel, AlterNet, July 10, 2006.
  38. ^ Universal jurisdiction
    • Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse By ADAM ZAGORIN, Time
    • War Crimes Suit Prepared against Rumsfeld Democracy Now, November 9th, 2006
    • War Criminals, Beware by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith, The Nation, November 3, 2006
  39. ^ Security Council Resolution 1511, October 16, 2003
  40. ^ Pushing Back on Detainee Act by Michael Ratner is president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Nation, October 4, 2006
  41. ^ Military Commissions Act of 2006
    • Why The Military Commissions Act is No Moderate Compromise By MICHAEL C. DORF, FindLaw, Oct. 11, 2006
    • The CIA, the MCA, and Detainee Abuse By JOANNE MARINER, FindLaw, November 8, 2006
    • Europe's Investigations of the CIA's Crimes By JOANNE MARINER, FindLaw, Februari 20, 2007
    • The John McCain Charade by Robert Kuttner, the Boston Globe, October 1, 2006
    • Republican Torture Laws Will Live in History By Larisa Alexandrovna, AlterNet, October 2, 2006.
  42. ^ Court 'can envisage' Blair prosecution By Gethin Chamberlain, Sunday Telegraph, March 17, 2007
  43. ^ History Will Not Absolve Us - Leaked Red Cross report sets up Bush team for international war-crimes trial Nat Hentoff, Village Voice, August 28th, 2007
  44. ^ Other countries may start prosewcution
    • Overseas, Expectations Build for Torture Prosecutions By Scott Horton, No Comment, January 19, 2009
    • Die leere Anklagebank - Heikles juristisches Erbe: Der künftige US-Präsident Barack Obama muss über eine Strafverfolgung seiner Vorgänger entscheiden. Mögliche Angeklagte sind George W. Bush und Donald Rumsfeld.
    Von Wolfgang Kaleck Süddeutschen Zeitung, January 19, 2009 (German)
  45. ^ a b Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment calls for prosecution
    • UN torture investigator calls on Obama to charge Bush for Guantanamo abuses Ximena Marinero, JURIST, January 21, 2009
    • UN Rapporteur: Initiate criminal proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld now By Scott Horton, No Comment, January 21, 2009
  46. ^ Responsibility for crimes committed in Darfur
    • Entrenching Impunity - Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur Human Rights Watch, December 2005, Volume 17, No. 17(A)
    • HRW Letter to Prime Minister Harper of Canada Regarding the Crisis in Darfur Human Rights Watch, Nur Muhammed-Ally, Co-Chair
    Teja Rachamalla, Co-Chair, On behalf of the Human Rights Watch Toronto Network
  47. ^ a b c Times and Sudan Tribune report on UN Panel
    • Massacres suspect let into Britain Hala Jaber, The Sunday Times, March 12, 2006
    • Darfur, The $64 Question By Mahmoud A. Suleiman, Sudan Tribune, March 3, 2008
  48. ^ Sudan president refuses to turn over war crimes suspects wanted by ICC by Deirdre Jurand, JURIST, June 08, 2008
  49. ^ a b c Bashir indicted
    • "Darfur genocide charges for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir" Peter Walker, James Sturcke, The Guardian, July 14, 2008
    • ICC prosecutor seeking arrest warrant for the President of Sudan by Dominik Zimmermann, International Law Observer, July 14, 2008
  50. ^ Mugabe unlikely to pay for his crimes Brisbane Times, April 4, 2008
  51. ^ Robert Mugabe may be prosecuted


  • The interests of States versus the doctrine of superior responsibility Ilias Bantekas, International Review of the Red Cross No. 838, p. 391–402
  • The Haditha Double Standard by Victor Hansen, JURIST
  • The Last Line of Defense: The Doctrine of Command Responsibility, Gender Crimes in Armed Conflict, and the Kahan Report (Sabra & Shatilla) The Berkeley Electronic Press
  • YAMASHITA v. STYER, Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces, Western Pacific, Findlaw
  • Yamashita v. Styer, 327 U.S. 1 (1946) or [3]
  • The Yamashita Standard by Anne E. Mahle, PBS
  • Command Responsibility in the United States by Anne E. Mahle, PBS
  • FROM THE TOP ON DOWN at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2007) BY JOHN D. HUTSON AND JAMES CULLEN
  • Guilty Associations: Joint Criminal Enterprise, Command Responsibility, and the Development of International Criminal Law by Allison Marston Danner† and Jenny S. Martinez, CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW
  • Command Responsibility and Superior Orders in the Twentieth Century - A Century of Evolution by Stuart E Hendin BA, MA, LLB, LLM, QC, Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, Volume 10, Number 1 (March 2003)
  • The Last Line of Defense: The Doctrine of Command Responsibility
  • Sugamo and the River Kwai By Robin Rowland, Paper presented to Encounters at Sugamo Prison, Tokyo 1945–52, The American Occupation of Japan and Memories of the Asia-Pacific War, Princeton University, May 9, 2003
  • ROLE OF THE ARMED FORCES IN THE PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS General McCaffrey presented the following on 18 November 1995 during "Nuremberg and the Rule of Law: A Fifty-Year Verdict."
  • THE CONTEMPORARY LAW OF SUPERIOR RESPONSIBILITY By Ilias Bantekas, the American Journal of International Law v.93, no. 3, July 1999

External links

  • Human Rights First; Private Security Contractors at War: Ending the Culture of Impunity (2008)
  • Human Rights First; Command's Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan
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