Critiquing the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission's Interpretation of the Rules on Legitimate Military Objectives: Aerial Bombardment of the Hirgigo Electric Power Station
26 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 14, 2016
On 19 December 2005, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission (the Commission), in a six-page decision, concluded, by majority vote, that ‘… in the circumstances prevailing on May 28, 2000, the Hirgigo power station was a military objective, as defined in Article 52, paragraph 2, of Geneva Protocol I and that Ethiopia’s aerial bombardment of it was not unlawful.’ The award is the only one in the Commission’s fifteen Awards where a decision was made by majority of votes; the rest were decided unanimously. The substance of the majority’s award and the process it followed to arrive at the conclusion, however, raises some important questions regarding the construal of the relevant provisions of Geneva Protocol I and the weighing and balancing of evidence that an international tribunal such as the Commission must employ. This publication will try to highlight some flaws in the award and discuss how the totality of the handling of the dispute by the majority of the Commission and suggest ways how the majority should have interpreted the relevant international humanitarian law instruments.
Keywords: Geneva Protocol I, Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, civilian objects, economic targets, Hirgigo power station
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