The Iran-Iraq War: The Politics of Aggression

By Farhang Rajaee | Go to book overview

7
War Responsibility: Governments or Individuals?

ABDOLRAHMAN ALEM

In the beginning of the ninth decade of the twentieth century, the world once again witnessed open aggression of one state against another. Iraqi armed forces invaded the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran and threatened its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence. The consequences of such flagrant aggression, in accordance with the 1974 United Nations Resolution on Definition of Aggression, entail international responsibility for the aggressor state. I discuss here the responsibility of the Iraqi government vis-à-vis the government of Iran. I examine state responsibility from legal and penal standpoints, then I study questions relating to the responsibility of the Iraqi government and leaders.

The state is the supreme legal institution of a country. Absence of legal responsibility in internal matters relates exclusively to the nationals of the state. At the same time, states are members of an international system while demanding their own sovereignty and legal equality. In order to safeguard this sovereignty, rights and obligations that protect the existing order should be established. In international law, the violation of sovereignty rights by one state creates responsibility for the delinquent state, which has a duty to recognize the consequences of such a responsibility. 1

Until the twentieth century, state responsibility had purely a customary status, and the delinquent state could have remedied the consequences of its actions by paying compensation or making reparations. For the first time, in Article 3 of the Fourth Hague Convention of

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