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Labial, Jay-AR Louis B.


February 2, 2013 IS26 XB

How Individuals can be held liable for violations of International Law

By looking at the world today, it becomes clear that a large number of states are repeatedly violating their international obligations. Since there is no international police, states at times act as if they are above the law. The basic principle of state responsibility in international law provides that any state that violates its international obligations must be held accountable for its acts. More concretely, the notion of state responsibility means that states, which do not respect their international duties, are responsible to immediately stop their illegal actions, and make reparations to the injured. This is a fundamental principle, which forms part of international customary law, and is binding upon all states. The rules on "state responsibility" do not specify the content of a state's obligations under international law, for example that torture is forbidden, or that a state must provide medical services to the civilian population. These obligations are specified in numerous international law treaties and in international customary law. The rules on state responsibility merely identifies when a state can be held responsible for violating those obligations, and what are the consequences if it fails to fulfill its responsibility.

It is a long-standing rule of customary International Law that a State is responsible for all acts or violations of International Law attributable to it, including: violations committed by its organs, including armed forces; violations committed by persons or entities empowered to exercise elements of Governmental authority; violations committed by persons or groups acting in fact on its instructions, or under its direction or control; and violations committed by private persons or groups it acknowledges and adopts as its own conduct. A state violates international law when it commits an internationally wrongful act", which breaches an international obligation that the state was bound by at the time when the act took place. A state is bound to act according to international treaties it signed. States have legal responsibilities both towards states and individuals according to different sources of international law. If a state violates international law it is responsible to immediately cease the unlawful conduct, and offer appropriate guarantees that it will not repeat the illegal actions in the future. The state also has a responsibility to make full reparations for the injury caused, including both material and moral damages.

An individual can also be held liable if the state where it came from, is one of the signatory in a convention or treaty among International community in which the violation belong and it is liable if the act itself violates humanitarian principles like crimes just like genocide, war crimes, or mass murders. It is not the person who committed a crime or any violations that will be the direct person to file the complaint but, it is channelled through a diplomatic representative and it will be presented by the state where the person who violated or committed a crime originates to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Before, only states can be held liable, but due to the Holocaust, where 10 million people lost their lives during World War II, they included the individuals to held liable for violations of International Law.