The Essentials of International Public Law and Organization

By Amos S. Hershey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
RESPONSIBILITY OF STATES

150. International Delinquencies. -- For a failure to observe its international obligations, as also for a positive violation of the rights of other members of the international community, a State is internationally responsible.1 Such act of commission or omission is called an International Delinquency.2

A State is directly responsible for its own actions or for acts of its officials3 and agents performed at its command or acting under its authority.4 State acts which violate Inter-

____________________
1
Some publicists of the positive or historical school still teach the false and dangerous doctrine that a State is the sole judge of its international responsibilities. But the fact that a State is theoretically sovereign or that there is no International Court of Justice with general obligatory jurisdiction over infractions of the Law of Nations does not free a State from international responsibility or make it the sole judge of its international actions.
2
"International Delinquencies" should be distinguished from "Crimes against the Law of Nations" and "International Crimes." "Crimes against the Law of Nations" are such acts against foreign States as are pronounced criminal by Municipal Law. The phrase "International Crimes" refers to such outrages against mankind as piracy and slave trading, which every State has the right to punish. See 1 Oppenheim, § 151.

International delinquencies should also be distinguished from unfriendly or merely discourteous acts. For examples of international delinquencies, see 1 Oppenheim, §§ 155, 162-63.

3
This responsibility is to States rather than to individuals. In International Law the individual as such has as a rule neither rights nor obligations other than those belonging to him as a citizen or subject of a member of the Family of Nations.
4
This principle applies particularly to diplomatic and administrative officials and military and naval commanders. It does not fully apply to judicial functionaries, for these are more or less independent of the executive in all well-regulated modern States. "All therefore that can be expected of a government in the case of wrongs inflicted by the courts is that compensation shall be made, and if the wrong has been caused by an imperfection in the law of such kind as to prevent a foreigner from getting equal justice with a native of the country, that a recurrence of the wrong shall be prevented by legislation." Hall, § 65, p. 269.

On "State Responsibility for Acts of State Organs," see especially * Borchard, §§ 75-81; 1 Hyde, §§ 286-88; 6 Moore, Digest, §§ 998-1018; and 1 Oppenheim, §§ 157-63.

It should be noted that the international responsibility of a State "does

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