Inter-State Accountability for Violations of Human Rights

Inter-State Accountability for Violations of Human Rights

Inter-State Accountability for Violations of Human Rights

Inter-State Accountability for Violations of Human Rights

Synopsis

Menno T. Kamminga challenges one of the cornerstones of classic international law: the presumption that states are entitled to exercise diplomatic protection only on behalf of their own nationals. Kamminga systematically reexamines this position, arguing that if a state violates its international human rights obligations, other states are entitled to exercise full protection on behalf of the victims, regardless of their nationality.

Excerpt

It is difficult to restrain myself from doing something to stop this attempt to exterminate a race, but I realize that I am here as Ambassador and must abide by the principles of non-interference with the internal affairs of another country.

Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador in Turkey, to the U.S. Secretary of State, 11 August 1915

The subject of diplomatic intercessions on behalf of foreign nationals seems an appropriate point to start our investigation. After all, it is through such direct representations that states first began to express concern about violations of human rights in other states, long before the establishment of institutionalized channels consisting of international organizations and international tribunals. It is state practice with regard to such intercessions that can provide us with the first clues as to whether states consider themselves to have a legitimate legal interest--as opposed to a merely humanitarian interest--in the fate of non-nationals.

Formal diplomatic intercessions on behalf of non-nationals may provide significant evidence of the existence of rules of customary international law. This is because they--unlike, for example, speeches in UN bodies--are more likely to be made after careful consideration of all relevant legal factors. Usually there are strong political or economic arguments that militate against making any representations at all. Few ambassadors fancy the prospect of having to see a senior official of the government to which they are accredited with a view to demanding the release of a political prisoner with whom their . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.