Kudos to Amnesty Int’l for Holding Non-State Actors to Task

The Taliban
The Taliban

I was pleased to see an article in which Amnesty International calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate crimes by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

I have long felt that non-state actor groups that wage military style campaigns that intentionally target civilians get more lenient treatment in international criminal law circles.   For example, many international law commentators have called for an investigation into Israel’s three-week military campaign in Gaza Operation Cast Lead.  However, less frequently do have I seen the argument that Hamas should be investigated for the eight years preceding Cast Lead in which it fired thousands of missiles indiscriminately at Israel as a war crime or crime against humanity – except when added as a concession in an call to investigate Israel.

I find the similar is true with Sri Lanka, where there are calls for an investigation into Sri Lanka’s 2009 military campaign against the Tamil Tigers.  Prior to that campaign, I rarely saw arguments that  the Tamils should be investigated for their targeting of civilians, use of child soldiers, assassination of two world leaders, ethnic cleansing campaigns and abuse of prisoners of war in contravention of customary international law.

Should states be held to a higher standard than non-state actors?  Should a protracted terror campaign should be viewed less critically than a state military campaign?




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