State Responsibility by Pranav K @lexcliq


States have a responsibility to perform the rights and duties under International Law. Since rights and duties are correlated, a right of one State is a duty of another. If the latter violates its duties as provided by the roles of International Law it becomes responsible to the former. It means that whenever a duty is established by any rule of International Law is breached by any act or omission of a State it is held responsible to which the act is imputed. State Responsibility may incur during the time of war as well as during the time of peace.

KINDS OF RESPONSIBILTY: State responsibility may incur in two ways either by the act of a State or by the act of Individuals. Responsibility of a State of the former kind has been defined by Oppenheim as ‘Original’ responsibility and the latter as ‘Vicarious’ Responsibility. The use of the expression vicarious responsibility is ‘surely erroneous’. State responsibility for the acts of private individuals cannot be aptly called vicarious. It is appropriate to distinguish them into direct and indirect responsibility since in the former the State is responsible and in the latter responsibility involved is indirect.

  1. Direct State Responsibility: When the breach of an international obligation is caused by a State it becomes responsible to that State whose right has been infringed. In International Law direct responsibility is attributed to a State for an internationally wrongful act. A state shall be responsible for its organs and entities which includes the following-
  • Executive and Administration Organs: When an act causing injury to another state is committed by the head of the Government of a State, or an official or other Individuals commanded or authorized by the Head of the Government, a State becomes responsible. Such acts are called ‘International Delinquency’. Unreasonable acts of violence by a police officer and failure to take the appropriate steps to punish the culprit will constitute State Responsibility.
  • Acts of Diplomatic Envoys: Even though Diplomatic Envoys enjoy immunities in States where they are sent and are excluded from the jurisdiction of the receiving State for their acts, A State becomes responsible for those acts which are performed by them at the command or with the authorization of his home State. For such acts, diplomatic agents cannot be blamed.
  • Acts of Members of Armed Forces: A State shall be responsible for all injurious acts of members of its armed forces if the act has been commanded or authorized by the State. If the act is committed by the members of armed forces in the exercise of their official functions without that State’s command or authorization it is not regarded as a state act and as such a State will not be held responsible for such Acts.
  • Acts of Judiciary: It is a fundamental principle of the municipal law that judiciary remains independent. However, it is irrelevant from the International Law point of view. If the courts give any judgement which is contrary to the international obligation of a State, responsibility of a State shall be involved.
  • Constituent Units of Federal States: It is generally accepted that a Federal State is responsible for the wrongful acts of its constituent units. A federal state cannot evade its responsibility by alleging that its constitutional powers if control over them is insufficient. A state is held responsible for the wrongful acts of the above organs and entities.
  1. Indirect State Responsibility: It is an obligation of A State to prevent its own subjects as well as foreign subjects living within its territory from committing acts which may cause injury to other States. However, if any individual or a group of individuals commits a wrongful act, a State to which they belong to are held responsible. Such acts of individuals for which a State may be held responsible may be as follows: –
  • Mob Violence: A State is responsible for the damage caused by a group of individuals or by mob. Responsibility of a State for mob violence may arise two ways. Firstly, a State shall be responsible if foreign public or private property is damaged by the mob violence due to substantial neglect to take reasonable precaution or preventive action. Secondly, State is also responsible where mob violence takes place due to indifferent attitude of its organs that is if the wrongful act is done with the connivance of its organs.
  • Violence in Insurrections and in Civil Wars: A State remains responsible for the injuries caused to an alien in the consequence of civil strife. The above principle is based on the presumption that it is a duty of a State to prevent violent acts of revolutions on its own territory by taking due diligence. Thus, the responsibility of a State for acts of insurgents and rioters is the same as for acts of other private individuals. Responsibility of a State ceases in such cases also because it amounts to unjustifiable inequality between nationals and foreigners.

By: Pranav K @Lexcliq


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