State Responsibility

Silvia Borelli

in International Law

ISBN: 9780199796953
Published online March 2012 | | DOI:
State Responsibility

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  • International Law
  • International Courts and Tribunals
  • Private International Law and Conflict of Laws
  • Public International Law


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State responsibility constitutes a central institution of the system of public international law. The law of state responsibility encompasses a variety of issues. First, it defines the circumstances in which a state will be held to have breached its international obligations, as well as the limited catalogue of justifications and defenses a state may rely upon in order to avoid responsibility for an otherwise wrongful act. Second, it covers the consequences of the breach of an international obligation, including in particular the central obligation to make full reparation, as well as the obligation to put an end to continuing wrongful acts. Finally, it deals with the way the responsibility arising from breach of an international obligation is implemented, in particular governing which states may invoke the responsibility of the wrongdoing state, as well as the means by which responsibility may be implemented, in particular through the adoption of countermeasures. The primary point of reference in relation to the law of state responsibility is the Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (the ILC Articles), adopted by the International Law Commission (ILC) in 2001, which constitute the fruit of the ILC’s attempt to codify and progressively develop the law in this area. The work of the ILC on the topic has exerted a profound influence in setting the terms of the debate. Since 2001, discussion of particular issues of state responsibility has generally been framed by—or is avowedly a reaction to—the approach taken by the ILC. Even prior to 2001, and in particular since the early 1970s, much of the literature discussed questions of state responsibility primarily by reference to the state of the ILC’s work as it stood at the time. To the extent that the approach of the ILC on specific questions evolved over the course of its work, some caution is necessary in referring to older literature. That is not to say, however, that literature prior to the adoption of the ILC Articles has been entirely superseded. In relation to a number of issues, in particular questions of the theory of state responsibility, some of the older literature remains of great relevance. Similarly, to the extent that particular questions, for instance the notion of “state crimes” or the classification of obligations, were eventually not included in the final version of the ILC Articles, the older literature remains the primary source of reference.

Article.  18417 words. 

Subjects: International Law ; International Courts and Tribunals ; Private International Law and Conflict of Laws ; Public International Law

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