ICJ welcomes UN expert report on military tribunals

The ICJ welcomes the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers presented to the UN General Assembly today.

The report calls for the adoption by the Human Rights Council of the draft principles governing the administration of justice through military tribunals, known as the ‘Decaux Principles’.

“This is a major step forward towards the establishment of universally applicable minimum standards to regulate the use and operation of military courts and tribunals”, said Alex Conte, Director of the ICJ’s International Law and Protection Programmes.

“The investigation and prosecution of alleged offences involving serious human rights violations is in many countries undertaken by military courts for the purpose of avoiding the accountability of perpetrators of such acts. It is therefore significant that the UN Special Rapporteur has reaffirmed that the jurisdiction of ordinary courts should prevail in such cases,” he added.

“It is also important that the Special Rapporteur has reiterated the recommendation of many human rights experts that the trial of civilians in military courts should in principle not occur and should be limited to strictly exceptional cases,” Conte further said.

The ICJ closely followed and contributed to the development of the Decaux Principles and has repeatedly called for their adoption and implementation by all States.

These principles were elaborated in 2006 in consultation with human rights experts, jurists and military personnel from throughout the world, and include specific provisions relating to the establishment and functioning of military tribunals.

They are based on the principle that military justice should be an integral part of the normal judicial system and should operate in a way that guarantees full compliance with human rights, including the need to ensure accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations.


Alex Conte, ICJ International Law and Protection Programmes Director (Geneva), t: +41 79 957 2733; email: alex.conte(a)icj.org


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