The ‘Clean Hands’ Doctrine

Chittharanjan F. Amerasinghe

in Diplomatic Protection

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199212385
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191707230 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Monographs in International Law

 The ‘Clean Hands’ Doctrine

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This chapter examines the application of the ‘clean hands’ (mains propres) doctrine to diplomatic protection. The effect of the doctrine is mainly to prevent, at some stage in the proceedings, an action being brought where such action arises from or is involved with the wilful wrongdoing of the complainant. The problems in defining and applying the ‘clean hands’ doctrine are discussed. Two points are highlighted. The first is that the doctrine is not an absolute one. It is a flexible doctrine subject to adaptation. It is relevant and viable, but only to the extent that its application promotes the cause of justice and does not result in injustice. The second point is that it remains unclear whether the doctrine, when applied in direct inter-State cases, must result in dismissal of the case or could work as a source of mitigation or extenuation of offences.

Keywords: international law; mains propes; inter-state relations; unclean hands

Chapter.  6775 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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