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Title: Command responsibility in international law : the boundaries of criminal liability for military commanders and civilian leaders
Author: Mettraux, Guenael
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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Born in the aftermath of the Second World War, the doctrine of command or superior responsibility provides that a military commander or a civilian leader may be held criminally responsible in relation to crimes committed by subordinates even where he has taken no direct or personal part in the commission of these crimes. The basis of this type of liability lies in a grave and culpable failure on the part of a superior to fulfill his duty to prevent or punish crimes of subordinates. Command responsibility is not a form of objective liability, nor is it a form of accomplice liability although it borrows elements from various types and forms of liability. It is a form of liability that is personal in nature and which is triggered by a personal and culpable dereliction of duty. Liability is entailed, however, not for a specific crime of 'dereliction of duty', but instead in relation to the underlying offence that has been committed by subordinates of the superior. In that sense, the responsibility of a superior is entailed and is closely linked to the crimes of his subordinates for which he may be convicted. Contrary to most other forms of criminal liability, the doctrine of command responsibility first developed as a norm of international law, rather than under domestic law. It is central to the ability of international law to ensure compliance with standards of humanitarian law and it remains a most important legal instrument in the fight against impunity. The present thesis provides a comprehensive and insightful dissection of that doctrine, its scope of application, its elements as well as the evidential difficulties involved in establishing those elements in the context of criminal prosecutions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available