Attribution – Responsibility – Remedy. Some comments on the EU in different international regimes

Pieter Jan Kuijper

Often in the discussion of the allocation of international responsibility between an international organization and its Member States for unlawful acts pride of place is given to the allocation of powers or competences between the organization and its Member States. … Read more


To Share or Not to Share? The Allocation of Responsibility between International Organizations and their Member States

Christiane Ahlborn

This paper will discuss the costs and benefits of sharing responsibility between states and international organizations for their own internationally wrongful acts. Rules on shared responsibility are sparse in the existing law of international responsibility as codified by the International … Read more


The Relations Between the European Union and its Member States from the Perspective of the ILC Articles on Responsibility of International Organizations

Giorgio Gaja

This article is the text of the SHARES lecture Judge Giorgio Gaja gave at the University of Amsterdam on 11 April 2013, entitled: ‘The relations between the European Union and its member states from the perspective of the ILC Articles on Responsibility of International Organizations’.


A European Law of International Responsibility? The Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations and the European Union

Jean d’Aspremont

The first section of this paper will briefly describe the plea made by the European Union for recognition of special rules of responsibility for regional economic integration organizations, with an emphasis on rules on attribution (Part 1). The paper will … Read more


The Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations: Magnifying the Fissures in the Law of International Responsibility

Jean d’Aspremont

It is against the backdrop of the conceptual impairment inherited from the Articles on State Responsibility (hereafter ASR) that this note, rather than zeroing in on what could have been better devised at the micro-level of the Articles on the … Read more


The Use of Analogies in Drafting the Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations – An Appraisal of the ‘Copy-Paste Approach’ –

Christiane Ahlborn

In view of the adoption and future reception of the Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations (ARIO) on second reading, this contribution seeks to offer some reflections on the ‘copy-paste narrative’ that has characterized the process of drafting the … Read more


Responsibility of international organizations ‘in connection with acts of States’

Nataša Nedeski and André Nollkaemper

This article offers some reflections on the way in which the ILC Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations (ARIO) have addressed the responsibility of international organizations for conduct of member States implementing their normative acts. The ILC has chosen … Read more


The Rules of International Organizations and the Law of International Responsibility

Christiane Ahlborn

This paper discusses the role of the so-called “rules of the organization” in the draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations (DARIO), adopted by the International Law Commission (ILC) on first reading. While the rules of the organization occupy … Read more


Expert Seminar Report – Responsibility in Multinational Military Operations: a Review of Recent Practice

The report summarizes the presentations and following discussions from the Expert Seminar on Responsibility in Multinational Military Operations held in Amsterdam in December 2010. At this meeting, experts discussed the practice of four international organizations engaging in multinational military operations: … Read more


Abuse of the Legal Personality of International Organizations and the Responsibility of Member States

Jean d'Aspremont

This Article makes the argument that when member states abuse the international legal personality of an international organization through the exercise of an excessive control over the decision-making process of the organization, they must be held, together with the organization, … Read more


3 October 2014

SHARES Seminar on Shared Responsibility in Partnerships among International Institutions

On Friday 3 October 2014, the seminar ‘Shared Responsibility in Partnerships among International Institutions’ will be held in Amsterdam.

The seminar will explore whether and on what grounds partnerships between international institutions (involving institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF, the WHO, the OECD and the European Union) may result in a shared responsibility between the participating institutions and/or other involved actors.

As little is known on the practice of such partnerships, a key aim will be to map the relevant practice of partnerships, and to confront that with international principles of responsibility and accountability of international organisations.

See the programme here. See here for the background and aims of the seminar.

The capacity of the venue is limited. If you wish to attend the event, please send an email to Iona Tjiong at: before 5 September 2014. Please indicate your full name and affiliation.

19 September 2013

SHARES/ESIL Lecture ‘Individual and Collective Responsibility of States for Acts of International Organizations’, by James Crawford

On 19 September 2013, Professor James Crawford will give a lecture entitled Individual and Collective Responsibility of States for Acts of International Organizations on the occasion of the publication of his new book State Responsibility. The General Part (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

This lecture will be a combined SHARES lecture and European Society of International Law (ESIL) lecture. (more…)

11 April 2013

SHARES Lecture: ‘The relations between the European Union and its member states from the perspective of the ILC Articles on Responsibility of International Organizations’, by Giorgio Gaja

On Thursday 11 April 2013, Judge Giorgio Gaja will give a lecture entitled: ‘The relations between the European Union and its member states from the perspective of the ILC Articles on Responsibility of International Organizations’.

Giorgio Gaja is currently a Judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). (more…)


8 November 2011

UNESCO Approves Palestinian Membership Bid: A Case for US Countermeasures Against the Organization?

Cross-posted from EJIL:Talk!

On 31 October 2011, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) approved the bid of Palestine for full membership with the necessary two-thirds majority. Although 107 UNESCO States voted in favor of Palestinian membership, the approval also faced notable opposition by 14 States. The overall number of 173 votes cast included 52 abstentions. Among the States voting against the bid were the United States, Canada and several EU member States, including Germany and the Netherlands. While the diverging positions of EU member States thus reveals once again the lack of unanimity in EU external relations policy, the US disapproval of the Palestinian UNESCO membership may have more serious consequences at the level of US-UNESCO relations. For after the approval of Palestine’s membership bid, the US immediately announced that it would cut off its funds to UNESCO, which amount to 60 million USD annually. (more…)

4 April 2011

The MSS Case: Shifting Burdens and Evading Responsibilities?

The European Court of Human Rights issued a landmark ruling in the case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece on 21 January 2011. The case concerned the expulsion of an asylum seeker to Greece by the Belgian authorities in application of European asylum law. Not only is this judgment extraordinarily rich, it also exposes serious flaws in the current European asylum regime.



15 November 2012

Adopted Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products calls for cooperation

On 12 November 2012, the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was adopted under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This Protocol supplements the WHO FCTC with the aim to effectively counter the illicit trade in tobacco products and its grave consequences for public health and well-being. The Protocol contains obligations to cooperate, for instance the obligations under Article 4(1) paragraphs (a)(c-f), and under Part V on international cooperation (Articles 20-31). The Articles under Part V concern amongst others information sharing (Articles 20-21), assistance and cooperation in investigation and prosecution of offences (Article 24), law enforcement cooperation (Article 27), mutual administrative assistance (Article 28) and mutual legal assistance (Article 29).

Source: Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products | FCTC/COP5(1)

7 November 2012

Plans for military intervention in Mali

On 12 October, the United Nations Security Council (UN SC) adopted a resolution, determining that the situation in Mali ‘constitutes a threat to international peace and security’. The UN SC declared its ‘readiness’ to send an international military force to assist the Malian armed forced to drive Islamists out of the north of Mali. After a coup in March 2012, much of the country is occupied and controlled by Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda. The authorities of Mali and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were given a 45 day deadline to formulate a plan for military action led by ECOWAS. The European Union considers assisting ECOWAS with military planning and logistics and sending about 200 troops to train Mali’s army to retake the north of Mali.

Source: Reuters | EU considers sending 200 troops to train Mali army
Source: The Guardian | France to send drones to Mali in fight against al-Qaida-backed insurgents
Source: The Guardian | North Mali prepares for war as refugees dream of liberation from al-Qaida
Source: The Guardian | Islamist rebels vow assault on Malian capital if international forces attack

16 October 2012

EU Imposes New Sanctions on Iran

The European Union (EU) is to impose new sanctions on Iran for its lack of cooperation in disclosing details about its nuclear program, which is suspected to be used as a cover for the development of nuclear weapons. The sanctions will likely include a ban of financial transactions between European and Iranian banks and certain trade bans. They follow earlier sanctions imposed by both the United States and the EU.

Source: BBC | EU imposes new sanctions on Iran

3 September 2012

Turkish Request for Refugee Camps in Syria divides UN Security Council

Turkey’s foreign minister has requested the UN Security Council (SC) to set up refugee camps in Syria, stating that Turkey will soon not be able to cope with the large number of refugees crossing its borders. Setting up safe zones in Syria would require military intervention and installing no-fly zones. Russia and China remain opposed to such measures, blocking SC action. During an emergency session of the SC, France and the United Kingdom nevertheless indicated that they would not rule out following up on Turkey’s request. This has caused media to speculate that they may intervene even without a SC mandate, already comparing the situation with the intervention in Kosovo in the 1990s.

Source: New York Times | Threat to Syrian Civilians Is Growing, Officials Say
Source: BBC | 'Difficult' demand for refugee camps in Syria vexes UN

22 August 2012

Russia joins WTO

After 18 years of negotiations, the Russian Federation joined the World Trade Organization as its 156th member on 22 August 2012. The country will now lower its import duties, limit its export duties and grant greater market access to other WTO members. Moreover, Russia will be subject to the WTO’s dispute settlement system.

Source: BBC | Russia's entry to World Trade Organization hailed by EU

17 August 2012

OIC suspends Syrian membership

On Thursday, 16 August 2012, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) decided to suspend Syrian membership in the organization. The decision was taken in reaction to President Bashar al-Assad’s continuous suppression of the Syrian revolt. Iran was the only member to oppose the decision, claiming that it was contrary to the OIC Charter.

Source: Reuters | Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspends Syria

30 July 2012

Judgment in the matter of Femi Falana v. The African Union

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has ruled in Femi Falana v. African Union that the African Union cannot be sued before the Court on behalf of, or for obligations attributable to, its member states and that it is not subject to obligations arising from the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Source: AfCHPR | Judgment in the matter of Femi Falana v. The African Union

3 July 2012

Negotiations begin on proposed UN arms treaty

On 2 July, talks began at the United Nations over a proposed treaty on global trade in conventional weapons, particularly small arms and ammunition, valued in 2010 at $411 billion. The treaty could ban weapons shipments to conflict areas, as well as areas where they would lead to serious human rights violations.

Source: The Independent | UN talks could finally rein in lawless trade in killing
Source: The Guardian | Why this arms trade treaty is essential

27 May 2012

NATO summit decided on plan to withdraw from Afghanistan

Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) agreed at the recent summit in Chicago on the security transition for Afghanistan, starting in 2013.

President Obama stated at the summit that NATO member states are ‘unified behind a plan to responsibly wind down the war in Afghanistan’. The plan of withdrawing 130.000 NATO troops by 2014 is ‘irreversible’. He however also stated that Afghanistan will not be abandoned, at least some troops will stay after 2014.

France will withdraw its combat troops from Afghanistan already at the end of this year.

Source: New York Times | NATO Agrees on Afghan Security Transition in 2013

21 May 2012

Russia wants ICC to examine NATO bombings in Libya

In the lead-up to the 2012 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Russian Foreign Ministry has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to look into all cases of NATO airstrikes in Libya that resulted in civilian deaths.

“We welcome the decision of ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to consider alleged violations of international humanitarian law,” Foreign Ministry human rights spokesman Konstantin Dolgov said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website. “We presume that the ICC will consider all cases of NATO bombing that caused civilian casualties … An impartial international investigation into the effects of NATO airstrikes during Operation United Defender in Libya is necessary to prevent such tragedies in the future,” the statement continued.

NATO carried out airstrikes last year under UN Security Council resolution 1970, which was passed to protect Libyan civilians from the retaliation by the Gaddafi regime.

Source: UPI | Russia wants ICC to examine NATO bombings
Source: RAPSI | Russia calls on ICC to consider NATO air campaign in Libya

19 April 2012

US Supreme Court rules that victims of torture can only bring claims against individuals, not against organizations

On April 18 the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the family of an American citizen killed during a visit to the West Bank may not sue the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization under the 1991 Torture Victim Protection Act.

The case was brought by the family of Azzam Rahim, a naturalized American citizen. According to their lawsuit, Mr. Rahim was arrested by intelligence officers of the Palestinian Authority during a 1995 visit to the West Bank. The officers took him to a prison in Jericho, where he was tortured and killed.

Justice Sotomayor recognized that it is sometimes hard to identify those who torture and kill on behalf of organizations, much less to find them, sue them and collect damages. However, she wrote that the limits in the law were a product of deliberate choices by Congress.

Source: New York Times | Justices Limit Suits Under Law on Torture

16 April 2012

NATO report identifies Flaws in Air Campaign Against Libya

A confidential NATO assessment concluded that the NATO allies struggled to share crucial target information, lacked specialized planners and analysts, and overly relied on the United States for reconnaissance and refueling aircraft.

Source: New York Times | NATO Sees Flaws in Air Campaign Against Qaddafi

13 April 2012

Dutch Supreme Court affirms absolute immunity UN

Today, the Dutch Supreme Court affirmed the Hague Court of Appeal’s decision that it does not have jurisdiction to deal with the claim of the Mothers of Srebrenica against the United Nations. The Mothers of Srebrenica instigated proceedings before Dutch courts against both the Netherlands and the United Nations, claiming they had failed to prevent the genocide in Srebrenica.

The plaintiff’s submission that UN immunity should be set aside in order to ensure the right to a fair trial in Article 6 ECHR was rejected. The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal erred in relying on the criteria in the ECtHR cases Beer and Regan and Waite and Kennedy in order to evaluate whether UN immunity should be set aside for the right to a fair trial. The Supreme Court held that the immunity of the United Nations is absolute, and that obligations under the UN Charter should prevail over obligations arising from other international agreements according to Article 103 UN Charter. In this context, the Supreme Court followed the ECtHR’s decision in Behrami and Saramati.

The plaintiff’s submission that in case of breaches of peremptory norms the UN is not entitled to immunity was also rejected. In order to support its decision that rules of ius cogens do not set aside rules on immunity, the Supreme Court referred to the ICJ’s recent judgment in the case Germany v. Italy.

The Mothers’ claim against the Netherlands is yet to be considered in first instance.

Source: Washington Post | Dutch court rules United Nations has immunity in Srebrenica massacre case

14 February 2012

Arab League Calls for Joint Peace Mission

After the latest double veto against a Security Council (SC) Resolution to take action against the crackdown in Syria, the Arab League has now called for a joint UN-Arab peace mission. In doing so, the League stated that a “special responsibility” rests on the League, due to the failure of the SC to reach an agreement. On the UN side, the General Assembly (GA) has taken up discussion of a resolution similar to the one which was vetoed in the SC. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, addressed the GA on Monday and again stressed that Syria has manifestly failed to assume its responsibility to protect and responsibility now lies with the international community. She added that it is likely that crimes against humanity are taking place and that she has requested the SC to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.

Source: UN News Centre | UN human rights chief urges General Assembly to act now to protect Syrians
Source: BBC | Syria unrest: Arab League observer mission head quits

7 February 2012

Russia and China veto Security Council Resolution on Syria

Last Saturday, Russia and China vetoed the Arab-backed Security Council Resolution proposal condemning the violence in Syria and calling for President Bashar al-Assad to stand down. Representatives of other states have reacted strongly to the veto, stating to be ‘disappointed in’ or even ‘disgusted by’ particularly the stance of Russia. Russia made clear that it is opposed to the resolution’s implied call for regime change and is afraid the resolution would be the first step towards military intervention.

Source: Guardian | Russia and China veto UN resolution against Syrian regime
Source: BBC | Syria resolution: The diplomatic trainwreck
Source: New York Times | Russia and China Block U.N. Action on Crisis in Syria

1 February 2012

Russia opposes to proposed Security Council Resolution calling for President Bashar al-Assad to stand down

The Arab League has requested the United Nations Security Council’s support for a plan condemning the violence in Syria and calling for President Bashar al-Assad to stand down. Last Saturday, the League suspended the work of its monitoring mission in Syria after violence continued uninterruptedly. During the first day of debate on Tuesday, Russia, backed by China and India, stated that it will not support any resolution which would imply calling for a regime change. Also, the opponents fear that such a resolution would lead to a repetition of the sequence of events in Libya, including military intervention. The proposed resolution will likely be voted on on Friday.

Source: New York Times | At U.N., Pressure Is on Russia for Refusal to Condemn Syria
Source: BBC News | Impasse at UN Security Council debate on Syria violence

22 December 2011

ECJ Judgment on Dublin II

On 21 December 2011, the European Court of Justice delivered its judgment in the joint cases of N.S. v Secretary of State for the Home Department and M.E. and others v. Refugee Applications Commissioner under the preliminary ruling procedure. (more…)

21 December 2011

Syria Agrees to Observer Mission

On December 19th, Syrian representatives signed an agreement with the Arab League to allow an observer mission to access the country. The observer mission was accepted on a number of conditions, including the cancellation of certain sanctions taken by the Arab League against Syria and a ban to visit “sensitive military sites”. Since the agreement was signed, an increase in violence has been reported.

Source 1: BBC News - Syria crisis: 'Nearly 200 lives lost' in last two days
Source 2: NY Times - Syria Offers to Allow Observers, With Strings

28 November 2011

Arab League Adopts Sanctions Against Syria

Yesterday, the Arab League approved a series of sanctions against the Syrian regime, thereby accepting the responsibility to respond to the violence of the Syrian government against its people. These include an asset freeze, an investment embargo and halting transactions with the Syrian central bank. Direct neighbour-states Iraq and Lebanon abstained from voting. The sanctions follow a deadline which passed last Friday to allow hundreds of observers into the country as part of a peace deal.

Source 1:
Source 2:

15 November 2011

Possible Suspension of Syria’s membership in the Arab League

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League after the 22-member organization voted to suspend the country’s membership by Wednesday if it does not comply with a peace plan to end the violence against anti-government demonstrators that has killed more than 3,500 since spring. Turkish, Qatari, Saudi and French diplomatic outposts were attacked after the vote Saturday, only the second of its kind in the history of the regional Arab League, with some members threatening to push for economic and political sanctions.


31 October 2011

UNESCO approves Palestinian membership bid

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) voted on Monday to admit Palestine as a member with the necessary two-third majority. The United States, Israel, and some EU Member States voted against the bid, revealing once again the lack of unanimity in European external relations policy. The approval of the bid is likely to cause the US government to cut off a substantial amount of its 60 million USD in annual funding to the body. The US has already threatened to withhold or actually withheld its contributions to UNESCO at earlier occasions and even withdrew from the Organization in 1984, rejoining only in 2003.

For a legal classification of the practice of withholding membership contributions to an international organization in light of the law of international responsibility see C. Ahlborn, ‘The Rules of International Organizations and the Law of International Responsibility’, ACIL Research Paper No 2011-03 (SHARES Series), in particular the discussion on countermeasures by member States of an international organization.


4 October 2011

ILC Commentaries to the 2011 DARIO published

The International Law Commission published the Report on its sixty-third session (2011), which includes the Commentaries to the DARIO on second reading. The whole report is available here in pdf.

In comparison to the first reading, the DARIO and their Commentaries have improved in some aspects. However, in general, the text of the DARIO and the Commentaries have not undergone fundamental changes.


21 September 2011

Update: Accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights

The final version of the draft legal instruments on the Accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights, released on 19 July 2011, can be found on the website of the Council of Europe.


8 September 2011

Torture Allegations Move NATO To Suspend Prisoner Transfers to Afghanistan

A pending U.N. report alleges that prisoners at some Afghan detention facilities have been beaten and, in some cases, given electric shocks. As a result, NATO has suspended detainee transfers to a number of questionable facilities until it can verify if the allegations are true.


6 September 2011

Rape in Haiti and The Recurring Problem of Crimes Committed by Peacekeepers

Haitian citizens are outraged at the rape of a young Haitian man by five Uruguayan UN Peacekeepers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The five men were arrested after a video-clip of the crime, which was committed within the confounds of a UN base, was published online. In cases where UN peacekeepers commit crimes, difficult questions on dual attribution between the troop-contributing nation and the UN, which enjoys immunity from local prosecution, may arise.



1 September 2011

Don’t Call It a Comeback

The success of the NATO mission in Libya is critically discussed in an op-ed by Kurt Volker on Foreign Policy.


1 July 2011

Draft Principles on Promoting Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has finalized a set of proposed principles intended to establish clear responsibilities for borrowers and lenders of sovereign debt. Work on the proposed standards began at the height of the global financial and economic crisis in 2009. Prior to the development of the principles, the United Nations General Assembly stressed the need for creditors and debtors to “share responsibility” for preventing unsustainable debt situations and encouraged Member States, the Bretton Woods institutions, regional development banks and other relevant multilateral financial institutions and stakeholders to pursue discussions to promote responsible sovereign lending and borrowing within the framework of the UNCTAD initiative.


7 June 2011

Adoption of the DARIO on Second reading

On 3 June 2011, the ILC adopted the Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations, on Second reading. The statement of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee is available here.

5 May 2011

UN Grants EU Higher Participation Status

The General Assembly voted on 3 May 2011 to upgrade the status of the European Union’s participation at the United Nations 192-member body. The resolution on the participation of the EU in the work of the UN was adopted by 180 UN Member States and will allow senior EU representatives to present to the Assembly the common positions of the European bloc. It also gives EU representatives the right to speak, the right to make proposals and submit amendments, the right of reply, the right to raise points of order and the right to circulate documents.


24 March 2011

UN Guiding Principles for Business & Human Rights Published

The UN has released its Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights after 6 years of research. The principles are now expected to be discussed by the UN Rights Council in its next session. The document outlines the obligations of both States and businesses in relation to the protection of human rights. 


8 March 2011

Comments of the UN Office of Legal Affairs on the DARIO

The UN Office of Legal Affairs released its comments on the ILC Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations.


24 February 2011

Italy Call for EU Help with Refugees Rebuffed

Italy has asked for solidarity in dealing with massive outflows of people, most notably from Libya. Many European Union governments have, however, criticized Italy for exaggerating the threat of asylum seekers. The disagreement underscores divisions in Europe on how to tackle immigration and share responsibility for the protection of refugees.


8 February 2011

UNESCO to Assess Damage to Hindu Temple Caused by Thai-Cambodian Clashes

Recent armed clashes between Thailand and Cambodia have caused damage to the Preah Vihear Temple, a World Heritage site. UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, plans to send a mission to assess the extent of the damage. It has stated that World Heritage sites are the heritage of all humanity and the international community has a special responsibility to safeguard them.


2 February 2011

Secretary-General Sets Out Broad Agenda for Strengthening Human Protection

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that action to protect people from man-made or natural calamities stands at the centre of the United Nations purposes and principles. He stressed that human protection is a shared responsibility of governments, business communities and civil society.


15 November 2010

EU criticized for ‘complicity’ in CIA rendition programmes

The European Union has been sharply criticized by Amnesty International for failing to call to account member states for their complicity in the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programme. Neither has the EU acknowledged that the Union itself bears collective responsibility for governments’ complicity in alleged torture, unlawful detention and enforced disappearances.


Read on the Guardian: