THE HAGUE | 13.04.2012.

DUTCH SUPREME COURT CONFIRMS ‘ABSOLUTE IMUNITY’ OF UN

The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that the UN cannot be summoned before any national court because the UN enjoys immunity. The Supreme Court handed down its decision on an appeal filed as a last recourse by the Mothers of Srebrenica association, which sued the UN and the UN Dutch Battalion for their alleged failure to prevent genocide in July 1995

The Dutch Supreme Court ruled today that because ‘there is the most far-reaching immunity […] the U.N. cannot be summoned before any national court’

The Supreme Court ruled on the appeal filed by the Mothers of Srebrenica, a group that sued the UN and the Netherlands before the District Court in The Hague on behalf of the 6,000 survivors from Srebrenica. In its suit, the association claimed that the UN Dutch Battalion soldiers had failed to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity: torture, rape and deportation of Bosnian Muslims in July 1995.

Taking their case before the Dutch Supreme Court was the last legal recourse for the Mothers of Srebrenica in the Netherlands. The Supreme Court’s decision states that proceedings against the Netherlands and ‘those who committed genocide’ may go on.

The press release issued by the Mothers of Srebrenica association immediately after the judgment was handed down, notes that the UN as ‘champions of the protection of human rights at an international level should not be above the law and should bear responsibility for the role they had played in the Srebrenica genocide’. The decision of the Dutch Supreme Court was described as ‘a violation of the basic human rights […] running counter to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice’.

The counsel representing the Mothers of Srebrenica association, lawyer Axel Hagedorn indicated the association would take the case before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The key argument in the appeal will be that the Dutch soldiers and the UN had violated human rights and that ‘giving immunity to a group purporting to defend human rights is tantamount to a distortion of facts’.