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Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

80. […] The international armed conflict element generally attributed to the grave breaches provisions of the Geneva Conventions is merely a function of the system of universal mandatory jurisdiction that those provisions create. The international armed conflict requirement was a necessary limitation on the grave breaches system in light of the intrusion on State sovereignty that such mandatory universal jurisdiction represents. State parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions did not want to give other States jurisdiction over serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in their internal armed conflicts - at least not the mandatory universal jurisdiction involved in the grave breaches system.

81. […] This reference in Article 2 to the notion of "protected persons or property" must perforce cover the persons mentioned in Articles 13, 24, 25 and 26 (protected persons) and 19 and 33 to 35 (protected objects) of Geneva Convention I; in Articles 13, 36, 37 (protected persons) and 22, 24, 25 and 27 (protected objects) of Convention II; in Article 4 of Convention III on prisoners of war; and in Articles 4 and 20 (protected persons) and Articles 18, 19, 21, 22, 33, 53, 57 etc. (protected property) of Convention IV on civilians. Clearly, these provisions of the Geneva Conventions apply to persons or objects protected only to the extent that they are caught up in an international armed conflict. By contrast, those provisions do not include persons or property coming within the purview of common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions.

[…]

84. […] [T]he Appeals Chamber must conclude that, in the present state of development of the law, Article 2 of the Statute only applies to offences committed within the context of international armed conflicts.

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ICTY Statute Article 2 Other instruments Geneva Convention: common Article 3.
Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

24. The doctrines of "political questions" and "non-justiciable disputes" are remnants of the reservations of "sovereignty", "national honour", etc. in very old arbitration treaties. They have receded from the horizon of contemporary international law, except for the occasional invocation of the "political question" argument before the International Court of Justice in advisory proceedings and, very rarely, in contentious proceedings as well. […]

25. The Appeals Chamber does not consider that the International Tribunal is barred from examination of the Defence jurisdictional plea by the so-called "political" or "non-justiciable" nature of the issue it raises.

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Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

18. This power, known as the principle of "Kompetenz-Kompetenz" in German or "la compétence de la compétence" in French, is part, and indeed a major part, of the incidental or inherent jurisdiction of any judicial or arbitral tribunal, consisting of its "jurisdiction to determine its own jurisdiction." It is a necessary component in the exercise of the judicial function and does not need to be expressly provided for in the constitutive documents of those tribunals, although this is often done (see, e.g., Statute of the International Court of Justice, Art. 36, para. 6). But in the words of the International Court of Justice:

"[T]his principle, which is accepted by the general international law in the matter of arbitration, assumes particular force when the international tribunal is no longer an arbitral tribunal […] but is an institution which has been pre-established by an international instrument defining its jurisdiction and regulating its operation." (Nottebohm Case (Liech. v. Guat.), 1953 I.C.J. Reports 7, 119 (21 March).)

This is not merely a power in the hands of the tribunal. In international law, where there is no integrated judicial system and where every judicial or arbitral organ needs a specific constitutive instrument defining its jurisdiction, "the first obligation of the Court - as of any other judicial body - is to ascertain its own competence." (Judge Cordova, dissenting opinion, advisory opinion on Judgements of the Administrative Tribunal of the I.L.O. upon complaints made against the U.N.E.S.C.O., 1956 I.C.J. Reports, 77, 163 (Advisory Opinion of 23 October)(Cordova, J., dissenting).)

[…]

22. In conclusion, the Appeals Chamber finds that the International Tribunal has jurisdiction to examine the plea against its jurisdiction based on the invalidity of its establishment by the Security Council.

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Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

6. This narrow interpretation of the concept of jurisdiction, which has been advocated by the Prosecutor and one amicus curiae, falls foul of a modern vision of the administration of justice. Such a fundamental matter as the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal should not be kept for decision at the end of a potentially lengthy, emotional and expensive trial. All the grounds of contestation relied upon by Appellant result, in final analysis, in an assessment of the legal capability of the International Tribunal to try his case. What is this, if not in the end a question of jurisdiction? And what body is legally authorized to pass on that issue, if not the Appeals Chamber of the International Tribunal? Indeed - this is by no means conclusive, but interesting nevertheless: were not those questions to be dealt with in limine litis, they could obviously be raised on an appeal on the merits. Would the higher interest of justice be served by a decision in favour of the accused, after the latter had undergone what would then have to be branded as an unwarranted trial. After all, in a court of law, common sense ought to be honoured not only when facts are weighed, but equally when laws are surveyed and the proper rule is selected. In the present case, the jurisdiction of this Chamber to hear and dispose of Appellant's interlocutory appeal is indisputable.

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Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

61. Appellant argues that he has a right to be tried by his national courts under his national laws. […] Does it prevent Appellant from being tried […] before an international tribunal? […]

62. As a matter of fact - and of law - the principle advocated by Appellant aims at one very specific goal: to avoid the creation of special or extraordinary courts designed to try political offences in times of social unrest without guarantees of a fair trial.

This principle is not breached by the transfer of jurisdiction to an international tribunal created by the Security Council acting on behalf of the community of nations. No rights of accused are thereby infringed or threatened; quite to the contrary, they are all specifically spelt out and protected under the Statute of the International Tribunal. No accused can complain. True, he will be removed from his "natural" national forum; but he will be brought before a tribunal at least equally fair, more distanced from the facts of the case and taking a broader view of the matter. […]

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Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

59. The principle of primacy of this International Tribunal over national courts must be affirmed; the more so since it is confined within the strict limits of Articles 9 and 10 of the Statute and Rules 9 and 10 of the Rules of Procedure of the International Tribunal. […]

See also para. 58.

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Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

45. […] The important consideration in determining whether a tribunal has been "established by law" is not whether it was pre-established or established for a specific purpose or situation; what is important is that it be set up by a competent organ in keeping with the relevant legal procedures, and that it observes the requirements of procedural fairness. […]

46. An examination of the Statute of the International Tribunal, and of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence adopted pursuant to that Statute leads to the conclusion that it has been established in accordance with the rule of law. The fair trial guarantees in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have been adopted almost verbatim in Article 21 of the Statute. Other fair trial guarantees appear in the Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. For example, Article 13, paragraph 1, of the Statute ensures the high moral character, impartiality, integrity and competence of the Judges of the International Tribunal, while various other provisions in the Rules ensure equality of arms and fair trial.

47. In conclusion, the Appeals Chamber finds that the International Tribunal has been established in accordance with the appropriate procedures under the United Nations Charter and provides all the necessary safeguards of a fair trial. It is thus "established by law."

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Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

36. […] In sum, the establishment of the International Tribunal falls squarely within the powers of the Security Council under Article 41.

See also paras 31, 38.

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Other instruments UN Charter: Article 41.
Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

99. […] When attempting to ascertain State practice with a view to establishing the existence of a customary rule or a general principle, it is difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint the actual behaviour of the troops in the field for the purpose of establishing whether they in fact comply with, or disregard, certain standards of behaviour. This examination is rendered extremely difficult by the fact that not only is access to the theatre of military operations normally refused to independent observers (often even to the ICRC) but information on the actual conduct of hostilities is withheld by the parties to the conflict; what is worse, often recourse is had to misinformation with a view to misleading the enemy as well as public opinion and foreign Governments. In appraising the formation of customary rules or general principles one should therefore be aware that, on account of the inherent nature of this subject-matter, reliance must primarily be placed on such elements as official pronouncements of States, military manuals and judicial decisions.

[…]

126. The emergence of the aforementioned general rules on internal armed conflicts does not imply that internal strife is regulated by general international law in all its aspects. Two particular limitations may be noted: (i) only a number of rules and principles governing international armed conflicts have gradually been extended to apply to internal conflicts; and (ii) this extension has not taken place in the form of a full and mechanical transplant of those rules to internal conflicts; rather, the general essence of those rules, and not the detailed regulation they may contain, has become applicable to internal conflicts. […]

127. Notwithstanding these limitations, it cannot be denied that customary rules have developed to govern internal strife. These rules, as specifically identified in the preceding discussion, cover such areas as protection of civilians from hostilities, in particular from indiscriminate attacks, protection of civilian objects, in particular cultural property, protection of all those who do not (or no longer) take active part in hostilities, as well as prohibition of means of warfare proscribed in international armed conflicts and ban of certain methods of conducting hostilities.

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ICTY Statute Article 3
Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

134. […] [C]ustomary international law imposes criminal liability for serious violations of common Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions of 1949], as supplemented by other general principles and rules on the protection of victims of internal armed conflict, and for breaching certain fundamental principles and rules regarding means and methods of combat in civil strife.

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ICTY Statute Article 3 Other instruments Geneva Convention: common Article 3.
Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

143. […] It should be emphasised again that the only reason behind the stated purpose of the drafters that the International Tribunal should apply customary international law was to avoid violating the principle of nullum crimen sine lege in the event that a party to the conflict did not adhere to a specific treaty. (Report of the Secretary-General, at para. 34.) It follows that the International Tribunal is authorised to apply, in addition to customary international law, any treaty which: (i) was unquestionably binding on the parties at the time of the alleged offence; and (ii) was not in conflict with or derogating from peremptory norms of international law, as are most customary rules of international humanitarian law. […]

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ICTY Statute Article 3
Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

94. […] The following requirements must be met for an offence to be subject to prosecution before the International Tribunal under Article 3 [of the ICTY Statute]:

(i) the violation must constitute an infringement of a rule of international humanitarian law;

(ii) the rule must be customary in nature or, if it belongs to treaty law, the required conditions must be met (see below, para. 143);

(iii) the violation must be "serious", that is to say, it must constitute a breach of a rule protecting important values, and the breach must involve grave consequences for the victim. Thus, for instance, the fact of a combatant simply appropriating a loaf of bread in an occupied village would not amount to a "serious violation of international humanitarian law" although it may be regarded as falling foul of the basic principle laid down in Article 46, paragraph 1, of the Hague Regulations (and the corresponding rule of customary international law) whereby "private property must be respected" by any army occupying an enemy territory;

(iv) the violation of the rule must entail, under customary or conventional law, the individual criminal responsibility of the person breaching the rule.

It follows that it does not matter whether the "serious violation" has occurred within the context of an international or an internal armed conflict, as long as the requirements set out above are met.

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ICTY Statute Article 3
Notion(s) Filing Case
Interlocutory Decision on Jurisdiction - 02.10.1995 TADIĆ Duško
(IT-94-1-AR72)

89. […] Article 3 [of the ICTY Statute] is a general clause covering all violations of humanitarian law not falling under Article 2 or covered by Articles 4 or 5, more specifically: (i) violations of the Hague law on international conflicts; (ii) infringements of provisions of the Geneva Conventions other than those classified as "grave breaches" by those Conventions; (iii) violations of common Article 3 and other customary rules on internal conflicts; (iv) violations of agreements binding upon the parties to the conflict, considered qua treaty law, i.e., agreements which have not turned into customary international law (on this point see below, para. 143).

90. […] It is therefore appropriate to take the expression "violations of the laws or customs of war" to cover serious violations of international humanitarian law.

91. Article 3 thus confers on the International Tribunal jurisdiction over any serious offence against international humanitarian law not covered by Article 2, 4 or 5. Article 3 is a fundamental provision laying down that any "serious violation of international humanitarian law" must be prosecuted by the International Tribunal. In other words, Article 3 functions as a residual clause designed to ensure that no serious violation of international humanitarian law is taken away from the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal. Article 3 aims to make such jurisdiction watertight and inescapable.

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ICTY Statute Article 3