Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of
Practice Relating to Rule 7. The Principle of Distinction between Civilian Objects and Military Objectives
The Report on the Practice of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) states that the “armed conflict in Croatia in which [the] YPA [Yugoslav People’s Army] participated was particularly characterized by the disregard of the obligation to respect the distinction between civilian objects and military objectives”. The report considers, however, that:
In evaluating the official position of [the] FRY, it is important to point out that during October 1991 [the] Chief of General Staff of the YPA issued two orders instructing troops to strictly comply with rules of humanitarian law … The fact that the YPA had sent a commission of inquiry to Dubrovnik to establish the effects of [the] shelling indicates the awareness of the need to respect the distinction between civilian objects and military objectives. Opinio juris
existed, however, the relevant rule was not respected in practice.
In the Legality of Use of Force cases
in 1999, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia initiated proceedings before the ICJ against ten NATO member States (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) on the ground, inter alia
, that “by taking part in attacks on civilian targets, [the respective States had] acted against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in breach of [their] obligation to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects”.
In its memorial submitted to the ICJ in 2000, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia further specified:
- by attacks on civilian targets, and by inflicting damage, injuries and losses to civilians and civilian objects, [the respective States had] acted against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in breach of [their] obligation to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.
The ICJ had found in 1999 that it manifestly lacked jurisdiction in the cases against Spain and the United States and had ordered the removal of these cases from the ICJ’s general list.
The ICJ further found, in its judgments on the preliminary objections in 2004, that it lacked jurisdiction also with regard to the remaining eight cases.