Practice Relating to Rule 150. Reparation
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book III, Volume 2 (Instruction of second-year trainee officers):
III.1. Collective responsibility
Collective responsibility of a belligerent party for a violation of the law of armed conflicts [LOAC] takes several forms.
- The third type of collective responsibility lies in the financial responsibility of States for damages caused by their illegal acts. In 1907, this form of responsibility of the State was formally included in Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land. According to Article 3, a belligerent party which has committed a violation of the provisions of the Regulations “shall, if the case demands, be liable to pay compensation”. The article specifies further that that party “shall be responsible for all acts committed by persons forming part of its armed forces”.
In practice, it is rare that the financial responsibility of the State in case of breaches of the Law of Armed Conflicts has important effects. At the most, a peace treaty can impose on the vanquished party the obligation to pay a global sum to the victor, in reparation of financial losses the latter has suffered due to the war.
The main interest of the diverse modalities relating to the responsibility of the State probably lies in their dissuasive effect. The fact that every violation of the law of armed conflicts engages the responsibility of the State can prompt the authorities to respect the provisions of the LOAC.
III.4. Mechanisms to engage the responsibility of the State
… A party to a conflict which violates the provisions of the law of armed conflicts can, if necessary, be called upon to pay compensation.
Breaches of international humanitarian law by members of the armed forces engage the international responsibility of the State concerned. Consequently, a State will have to answer for the consequences of every act contrary to the law committed by every soldier vis-à-vis the State that suffered the breach. It must restore the situation and, if need be, is bound to indemnify the State which has suffered the breach.
In 2009, in its report to the UN Human Rights Council, Côte d’Ivoire stated: “[T]he political and military crises faced by Côte d’Ivoire since 1999, exacerbated by the war which broke out in September 2002, have had many grave consequences in the political, economic and social spheres.”
Côte d’Ivoire also stated: “A draft law to compensate war victims has … been prepared and is being transmitted to Parliament.”