Research event

Reconciling command responsibility under Article 28 Rome Statute with individual criminal responsibility: Lessons from Bemba and the individualization of war

A presentation by Alexandre Skander Galand (Hertie School). This event is part of the Fundamental Rights Research colloquium hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights.

Never has the doctrine of command responsibility been shaken as when the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court issued the Bemba Appeal Judgment. The Bemba Majority Judgment solely addresses whether the defendant – Jean-Pierre Bemba, former Commander-in-chief of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo - took reasonable and necessary measures to prevent or punish his subordinates’ crimes perpetrated in the Central African Republic. Yet, the various dissenting, separate and concurring opinions advocate opposing positions on the scope, elements and nature of this notorious doctrine. This paper relocates the ‘sharp disagreements’ that surfaced during the Bemba Appeal Judgment within the broader phenomena of the individualisation of war. Through an in-depth examination of the interpretation of Article 28 of the Rome Statute offered by the appellate judges, it designs a model of command responsibility that properly individualizes Article 28, and, by the same token, reconciles the ICC’s object and purpose with the need to respect the fundamental rights of military commanders.

Alexandre Skander Galand is a postdoctoral researcher at the Hertie School. He is specialised in international criminal law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law. He is a member of the Barreau du Québec (Canada) and holds a PhD in International Law from the European University Institute (EUI). Before joining the Hertie School, he was a postdoctoral research fellow on the ERC-funded project The Individualisation of War: Reconfiguring the Ethics, Law and Politics of Armed Conflict - based at the EUI and University of Oxford. He is an associate editor of the Oxford Reports on International Human Rights Law / UN Treaty Bodies, has consulted for the Case Matrix Network and worked for the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute as part of the War Crimes Justice Project.