War Crimes

Author:International Law Group

Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission issues partial awards against both parties, citing violations of customary international law and the 1949 Geneva Conventions


The Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, The Netherlands, has issued six partial war-related awards. The 1998-2000 border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia claimed the lives of an estimated 70,000 people. The Commission was established by Eritrea and Ethiopia through an agreement signed on December 12, 2000, in Algiers. The purpose is to decide any damage claims that the two countries have against each other. The Commission issued its first decisions in August 2001

The applicable law of the following awards is customary international law, including customary international humanitarian law as exemplified by relevant parts of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. Eritrea and Ethiopia acceded to the 1949 Geneva Conventions on August 14, 2000. The awards of December 19, 2005 are:

- Partial Award - Prisoners of War - Eritrea's Claim 17: Ethiopia held approximately 2,600 Eritrean Prisoners of War (POWs). Ethiopia is liable for failing to prevent abuse of Eritrean POWs, for frequently depriving Eritrean POWs of footwear during long walks, for forced indoctrination of Eritrean POWs, for deficient nutrition and medical care of Eritrean POWs, and for delaying their repatriation in 2002.

- Partial Award - Prisoners of War - Ethiopia's Claim 4: Eritrea held approximately 1,100 Eritrean POWs. For example, Eritrea is liable for denying the Red Cross access to Ethiopian POWs, for failing to protect the lives of Ethiopian POWs at and after capture, for permitting physical abuse of Ethiopian POWs, for depriving Ethiopian POWs of footwear during long walks, for the confiscation of personal property of the Ethiopian POWs, and for failing to provide for the bare necessities of the Ethiopian POWs.

- Partial Award - Central Front - Eritrea's Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 & 22: Ethiopia is liable, for example, for the actions of its military personnel, including the looting and stripping of buildings in Tserona Town and its cemetery during occupation, for the destruction of several buildings, and for failing to...

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