Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of
Practice Relating to Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
Section C. Attacks against civilians
The Report on the Practice of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia states:
There are many examples of direct attacks on civilians … which both parties to the conflict in Croatia in 1991 and 1992 pointed at. The mixed nature of the conflict, being both internal and international, contributed to this as well. Both parties referred to these incidents as violations of international humanitarian law. The fact that the parties did not question this norm [prohibiting attacks against civilians] when speaking about the behaviour of the opposite side is a clear indication of their opinio juris
and a confirmation that such attacks were considered prohibited.
In its counter-memorial submitted to the ICJ in the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide case (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro) in 1997, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia stated:
In [the Applicant’s] Memorial … it is said: “The Council also addressed what is perhaps the most direct manifestation of the policy of genocide: the military attacks directed against civilians, including the bombardment and shelling of civilian centres and even concentrations of displaced persons, and the preclusion of humanitarian aid deliveries as a means of warfare against civilians.” The Respondent disagrees with the Applicant on the legal qualification of the said acts as genocide. Military attacks directed against civilians are certainly prohibited under the 1949 Geneva Conventions but they cannot be qualified as genocide. In order to be qualified as genocide they have to be directed against members of a group protected under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and there must be a genocidal intent.
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 grounds, 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.