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

Christiane Ahlborn

SHARES Research Paper 28 (2013), ACIL 2013-26

➡ Click here to download the paper. Also available on SSRN.

Published in: (2013) 88 (3-4) Die Friedens-Warte/Journal of International Peace and Organization 45-75.

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 Law Commission (ILC). The emphasis of the law of international responsibility lies on exclusive responsibility and, as discussed in chapter 2 of this paper, on the attribution of wrongfulness to states and international organizations, strong reasons speak in favor of emphasizing the independence of the responsible actors. By distinguishing wrongfulness from responsibility, however, it will be argued in chapter 3 that independent wrongful acts will not necessarily lead to exclusive responsibility. A number of recent cases have illustrated that shared responsibility is a frequent outcome of the cooperation between states and international organizations. Nonetheless, such shared responsibility seems to come with more costs than benefits. Injured parties, in particular, are often left without a remedy when potential wrongdoers shift the buck of responsibility between them. In order to reduce the costs caused by shared responsibility of states and international organizations, this paper therefore advocates for the recognition of a principle of joint and several responsibility in international law, which would allow for the balancing of the different interests of injured and responsible parties.

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