Full text: Responsibility of states for damage caused in their territory to the person or property of foreigners

(a) The issue of State responsibility is, indeed, the current leading prob- 
lem of International Law. It may be stated that it involves practically the 
entire scope of international conduct, since it originates from a definite prin- 
ciple of law and comprises divers features, such as the definition of the State 
as an international character, its rights, its obligations, and its powers. In 
other words, responsibility covers the solution of matters which deal with the 
activities of the State and the securities which it affords. This unique prob- 
lem is now assuming the importance which it commands, having been 
brought to light out of its former exclusive status in political and lay circles. 
Until just recently, responsibility was confined to special claim proceedings 
instituted through diplomatic channels, arising out of a one-sided conception 
of the alleged injury, and their decision was dependent in most cases upon 
coercion on the part of the States with preponderant power, or, at the 
most, upon direct settlement or arbitration proceedings that were not in 
themselves strictly based upon juridical principles. Even to this day there 
are many who confuse the problem of substantive law involving responsi- 
bility with the claim proceedings instituted through diplomatic channels, 
whereas they are not altogether two inseparable subjects. There are certain 
cases in which a person may institute an international action; and the present 
tendency is to establish a court with international jurisdiction, to which indi- 
viduals may have recourse whenever the State raises questions of public 
policy in order to become immune from its municipal jurisdiction; or when- 
ever there is a manifest denial of justice. In any event, the possibility of pri- 
vate citizens resorting to such international jurisdiction evidently shows that 
no relation necessarily exists between the principle of responsibility and diplo- 
matic claim proceedings. 
(b) Responsibility on the part of the State may, or may not, exist; and 
its definition and scope may vary, depending upon whatever conception of 
the law is entertained as regards the State itself. If such right should be 
derived from the will of the State, and if such will purports to comprise 
peremptory sovereignty of the State in its ancient form, then there is no 
Nore—The author’s original manuscript in Spanish has been translated into English 
for this publication by G. Marquez, LL.B.

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