Posted on July 19, 2019
The case hinges on around 300 Muslim men who were executed by Bosnian Serb forces after being handed over by Dutch UN troops. The Serb forces killed a total of 8,000 Muslim men in the town of Srebrenica in 1995.The Dutch had been guarding a UN safe zone when it was overrun.
It is rare for a state to be held liable for failures in UN peacekeeping work.
In 2002, a report into the Netherlands’ role at Srebrenica caused the entire Dutch government to resign.
The UN itself was ruled to be immune from prosecution.
During the Bosnian War (1992-1995), the Serb army was engaged in an ethnic-cleaning operation. Thousands of Muslims sought safety in Srebrenica, which the UN was protecting with the Dutch forces. But the lightly armed peacekeepers capitulated during a violent offensive and expelled hundreds of men from the UN base.
A lower court has previously ruled that the Dutch were liable, as the soldiers should have known that giving in to the Serb demands would condemn the Muslims to death. In 2017, an appeals court largely upheld that ruling, but declared that the state could not be completely responsible as many of the men would have been killed regardless. Since the killings, Dutch governments have argued that their troops were on a “mission impossible”.