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The International Law of State Responsibility

Robert Kolb

This highly readable book examines the law of State responsibility, presenting it as a fundamental aspect of public international law. Covering the key aspects of the topic, it combines a clear overview with use of specific case studies in order to provide a deeper understanding.
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Chapter 5: Legal effects of responsibility

Robert Kolb


There are two main consequences of an IWA: first, the duty of the wrongdoing party to make reparation; and second, residually, the faculty of the aggrieved party to take CM. The first limb adds a new obligation to the primary obligation which has been breached, i.e. the obligation to make reparation. The second limb allows the aggrieved State to take material action in order to safeguard its interests. Consequently, the first is based on a legal obligation with a correlative legal right, and the second on a legal faculty with no correlative legal burden. The first is addressed directly to the responsible State; and the second is addressed directly to the aggrieved State. The first tells the responsible State what it must do; and the second tells the aggrieved State what it could do.

The duty of reparation enjoys some legal primacy. If the State or subject violating the primary obligation accepts the consequences of the breach and makes reparation, the issue is settled. The aggrieved State can demand no more than that. Responsibility is about re-equilibrating the sheets of a relationship; it is not concerned with punishing, an issue left to criminal law. Conversely, if the responsible State does not accept the demand of reparation or does not fully meet the quantum of reparation demanded, the injured State may take CM if a series of strict conditions are fulfilled. Thus, the claim of responsibility is settled in one of the following three ways:...

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