Besides State responsibility for violations of international law, individuals may be held criminally responsible for international crimes (i.e., war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide).

Each member of the armed forces is directly responsible for breaches he or she commits and can be held individually responsible before a criminal court for violations of the laws of war. The principle of individual criminal responsibility for war crimes can be dated back to the Lieber Code and is a long-standing rule of customary international law. Not only is it possible to hold accountable individuals who actually commit a war crime, but different forms of individual criminal responsibility allow persons who attempt, assist, facilitate, aid, abett, plan or instigate the commission of a war crime to face accountability for their actions. Finally, the law of armed conflict assigns responsibility to military commanders who order their subordinates to violate IHL or who fail to prevent or repress such violations.

See International Criminal Law; War crimes; Grave breaches; Accused; Command responsibility; Repression of breaches; Violations;





Suggested readings:

(Remark: for manuals on International Criminal Law, see International Criminal Law)
ABELLÀN HONRUBIA Victoria, “La responsabilité internationale de l’individu”, in Collected Courses, Vol. 280, 1999, pp. 139-428.
BONAFE Beatrice I., The Relationship Between State and Individual Responsibility for International Crimes, Leiden, M. Nijhoff, 2009, 281 pp.
FERNANDES FLORES Y DE FUNES José Luis, “Repression of Breaches of the Law of War Committed by Individuals”, in IRRC, No. 282, May-June 1991, 47 pp.

Further readings:

DUTLI Maria Teresa & PELLANDINI Cristina, “The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Implementation of a System to Repress Breaches of International Humanitarian Law”, in IRRC, No. 300, May-June 1994, 15 pp.
FALLAH Katherine, “Perpetrators and Victims: Prosecuting Children for the Commission of International Crimes, in African Journal of International and Comparative Law, T. 14, No. 1, 2006, pp. 83-103.
FLECK Dieter, “International Accountability for Violations of the Ius in Bello: the Impact of the ICRC Study on Customary International Humanitarian Law”, in Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2006, pp. 179-199.
FREELAND Steven, “Child Soldiers and International Crimes: How Should International Law Be Applied?”, in New ZealandJournal of Public and International Law, Vol. 3, Issue 2, November 2005, pp. 303-328.
RATNER Steven R., ABRAMS Jason S., & BISCHOFF James L., Accountability for Human Rights Atrocities in International Law: Beyond the Nuremberg Legacy, Oxford, OUP, 3rd ed., 2009, 483 pp.