The Dutch supreme court has upheld a ruling that the Netherlands was partially responsible for deaths in Bosnia’s Srebrenica massacre, in which Bosnian Serb forces murdered a total of 8,000 Muslim men in July 1995. The Dutch had been guarding a UN safe zone when it was overrun.
The court ruled that if Dutch forces had given the men the chance to stay in their safe compound, there was just a 10 per cent chance they would not have fallen into the hands of the Serbs, and so the Dutch state should be liable for only that proportion of the damages suffered by the bereaved.
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.
A group of victims’ relatives, the Mothers of Srebrenica, are behind the long-running legal action. Their case originally sought acknowledgement and compensation from the UN as well, but the organisation was ruled to be immune from prosecution.