European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Court rejects UN immunity Srebrenica massacre complaint

Judges have rejected a complaint regarding the United Nation’s immunity from national jurisdiction in a civil case concerning the Srebrenica massacre.

In its decision in the case of Stichting Mothers of Srebrenica and Others v. the Netherlands (application no. 65542/12), the European Court of Human Rights unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final.

The case concerned the complaint by relatives of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, and by an NGO representing victims’ relatives, of the Netherlands courts’ decision to declare their case against the United Nations (UN) inadmissible on the ground that the UN enjoyed immunity from national courts’ jurisdiction.

The applicants alleged in particular that their right of access to court had been violated by that decision.

The court found that the NGO had not itself been affected by the matters complained of and could thus not claim to be a “victim” of a violation of the convention.

As regards the individual applicants, the court rejected the complaint as manifestly illfounded, as the granting of immunity to the UN served a legitimate purpose.

It held in particular: that bringing military operations under Chapter VII of the Charter of the UN within the scope of national jurisdiction would mean allowing States to interfere with the key mission of the UN to secure international peace and security; that a civil claim did not override immunity for the sole reason that it was based on an allegation of a particularly grave violation of international law, even genocide; and, that in the circumstances the absence of alternative access to a jurisdiction did not oblige the national courts to step in.

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