Binding order

Notion(s) Filing Case
Judgement on Request of Croatia for Review - 29.10.1997 BLAŠKIĆ Tihomir
(IT-95-14-AR108 bis)

41. […] It is well known that customary international law protects the internal organization of each sovereign State: it leaves it to each sovereign State to determine its internal structure and in particular to designate the individuals acting as State agents or organs. Each sovereign State has the right to issue instructions to its organs, both those operating at the internal level and those operating in the field of international relations, and also to provide for sanctions or other remedies in case of non-compliance with those instructions. The corollary of this exclusive power is that each State is entitled to claim that acts or transactions performed by one of its organs in its official capacity be attributed to the State, so that the individual organ may not be held accountable for those acts or transactions. […]

[…]

43. The Appeals Chamber therefore finds that, both under general international law and the Statute itself, Judges or Trial Chambers cannot address binding orders to State officials. […] It follows that if a Judge or a Chamber intends to order the production of documents, the seizure of evidence, the arrest of suspects etc., being acts involving action by a State, its organs or officials, they must turn to the relevant State.

See also para. 45.

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ICTY Statute Article 29 ICTY Rule Rule 54
Notion(s) Filing Case
Judgement on Request of Croatia for Review - 29.10.1997 BLAŠKIĆ Tihomir
(IT-95-14-AR108 bis)

26. […] [I]t is self-evident that the International Tribunal, in order to bring to trial persons living under the jurisdiction of sovereign States, not being endowed with enforcement agents of its own, must rely upon the cooperation of States. The International Tribunal must turn to States if it is effectively to investigate crimes, collect evidence, summon witnesses and have indictees arrested and surrendered to the International Tribunal. The drafters of the Statute realistically took account of this in imposing upon all States the obligation to lend cooperation and judicial assistance to the International Tribunal. This obligation is laid down in Article 29[1] and restated in paragraph 4 of Security Council resolution 827 (1993)[2]. Its binding force derives from the provisions of Chapter VII and Article 25 of the United Nations Charter and from the Security Council resolution adopted pursuant to those provisions. The exceptional legal basis of Article 29 accounts for the novel and indeed unique power granted to the International Tribunal to issue orders to sovereign States (under customary international law, States, as a matter of principle, cannot be “ordered” either by other States or by international bodies). Furthermore, the obligation set out - in the clearest of terms - in Article 29 is an obligation which is incumbent on every Member State of the United Nations vis-à-vis all other Member States. The Security Council, the body entrusted with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, has solemnly enjoined all Member States to comply with orders and requests of the International Tribunal. The nature and content of this obligation, as well as the source from which it originates, make it clear that Article 29 does not create bilateral relations. Article 29 imposes an obligation on Member States towards all other Members or, in other words, an “obligation erga omnes partes”[3]. By the same token, Article 29 posits a community interest in its observance. In other words, every Member State of the United Nations has a legal interest in the fulfilment of the obligation laid down in Article 29[4] (on the manner in which this legal interest can be exercised, see below, paragraph 36).

As for States which are not Members of the United Nations, in accordance with the general principle embodied in Article 35 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties[5], they may undertake to comply with the obligation laid down in Article 29 by expressly accepting the obligation in writing. […]

See also paras 27-29.

[1]           “1. States shall cooperate with the International Tribunal in the investigation and prosecution of persons accused of committing serious violations of international humanitarian law.

2. States shall comply without undue delay with any request for assistance or an order issued by a Trial Chamber, including, but not limited to:

(a) the identification and location of persons;

(b) the taking of testimony and the production of evidence;

(c) the service of documents;

(d) the arrest or detention of persons;

(e) the surrender or the transfer of the accused to the International Tribunal.”

[2]           “The Security Council, . . . Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

4. Decides that all States shall cooperate fully with the International Tribunal and its organs in accordance with the present resolution and the Statute of the International Tribunal and that consequently all States shall take any measures necessary under their domestic law to implement the provisions of the present resolution and the Statute, including the obligation of States to comply with requests for assistance or orders issued by a Trial Chamber under Article 29 of the Statute”.

[3]           As is well known, in the Barcelona Traction, Power & Light Co. case, the International Court of Justice mentioned obligations of States “towards the international community as a whole” and defined them as obligations erga omnes (I.C.J. Reports 1970, p. 33, para. 33). The International Law Commission has rightly made a distinction between such obligations and those erga omnes partes (Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1992, vol. II, Part Two, p. 39, para. 269). This distinction was first advocated by the Special Rapporteur, G. Arangio-Ruiz, in his Third Report on State Responsibility (see ibid., 1991, vol. II, Part One, p. 35, para. 121; see also his Fourth Report, ibid, 1992, vol. Two, Part One, p. 34, para. 92).

[4]           It is worth mentioning that in the Lockerbie case, the United States contended before the International Court of Justice that “irrespective of the right claimed by Libya under the Montreal Convention, Libya has a Charter-based duty to accept and carry out the decisions in the Security Council resolution [784 (1992)], and other States have a Charter-based duty to seek Libya’s compliance” (I.C.J. Reports 1992, p. 126, para. 40). The Court did not however take any stand on this contention, in its Order of 14 April 1992 (ibid.). The fact that the obligation is incumbent on all States while the correlative “legal interest” is only granted to Member States of the United Nations should not be surprising. Only the latter category encompasses the “injured States” entitled to claim the cessation of any breach of Article 29 or to promote the taking of remedial measures. See on this matter Article 40 of the Draft Articles on State Responsibility adopted on first reading by the International Law Commission (former art. 5 of Part Two). It provides as follows in para. 2 (c): “[injured State means] if the right infringed by the act of a State arises from a binding decision of an international organ other than an international court or tribunal, the State or States which, in accordance with the constituent instrument of the international organisation concerned, are entitled to the benefit of that right”, in International Law Commission, Report to the Forty-eighth Session of the General Assembly, 1996, Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/51/10), (“I.L.C. Draft Articles”).

[5]           This Article provides that:

“An obligation arises for a third State from a provision of a treaty if the parties to the treaty intend the provision to be the means of establishing the obligation and the third State expressly accepts that obligation in writing.”

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ICTY Statute Article 29 ICTY Rule Rule 54
Notion(s) Filing Case
Judgement on Request of Croatia for Review - 29.10.1997 BLAŠKIĆ Tihomir
(IT-95-14-AR108 bis)

48. The spirit and purpose of the Statute, as well as the aforementioned provisions, confer on the International Tribunal an incidental or ancillary jurisdiction over individuals other than those whom the International Tribunal may prosecute and try. These are individuals who may be of assistance in the task of dispensing criminal justice entrusted to the International Tribunal. Furthermore, as stated above, Article 29 also imposes upon States an obligation to take action required by the International Tribunal vis-à-vis individuals subject to their jurisdiction.

See also para. 47; paras 50-51 on the meaning of “individuals acting in their private capacity”; and paras 55-56 on the modalities of how to address these individuals.

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ICTY Rule Rule 54