Date of Award
Doctor of Law (SJD)
Professor Dr. Sompong Sucharitkul
Professor Dr. Sophie Clavier
Professor Dr. Jiri Toman
In the past, the responsibility of head of State and of Government was national competence. There were no international rules which established their responsibilities in international law. If they committed crimes, this remained exclusively the matter of the State and if there was the responsibility for the wrong behavior, it was the responsibility of the States themselves and not of the leaders as persons.
It was only very slowly that the State leaders started to be called to responsibility. One of the first attempts, which failed, was the 1919 Treaty of Versailles which wanted to prosecute the German Emperor. The second attempt, after the end of the World War II, was much more successful and was prepared already during the war itself. The Nuremberg and Tokyo Military Tribunals brought severe condemnation of the leaders of Germany, Japan and some other countries. This attempt was followed by a long period of silence.
The end of the cold war changed the environment. The responsibility of the leaders was becoming a requirement. The leaders were not only receiving the gratitude and privileges, but are also asked to present a full account of what they had accomplished during the privileged position which was given to them.
Two major catastrophic situations that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall were the civil war in Yugoslavia and genocide in Rwanda. Both of these major humanitarian disasters led to the creation of the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. This tendency was followed by an effort to enlarge the international jurisdiction to other regions of the world: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and others. Two former heads of State, Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Ghankay Taylor were held responsible. Examples will be provided for these two leaders to demonstrate the new responsibility which substantially modifies the position of the heads of States in international law.
Shilunga, Julia A., "Dissertation on The Prosecution and the Trial of Heads of State under International Law: The case of Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Ghankay Taylor" (2009). Theses and Dissertations. 48.