Between State Immunity and Individual Compensation Claims

3 December 2009, 12:00 am
On 3 December 2009, in cooperation with the Republican Lawyers Association (RAV), a panel discussion on the State Immunity Case, currently before the International Court of Justice, was arranged. In the case, Germany challenges the decision of the highest Italian court, which called for Germany to compensate to war victims, and forced laborers from the Second World War.
In the first ECCHR panel on the ICJ proceeding, Professor Andreas Fischer-Lescano and Dr. Monika Lüke, General Secretary of Amnesty International, Germany and ECCHR-Advisory Board member, traced the development of individual claims for compensation in public international law. They emphasized the growing influence of human rights law with regard to immunity. While the role of politics in the sphere of law should not be underestimated, the panelists stressed that the common legal objections against individual claims of war victims can all be refuted.

 During the second panel, political scientist Dr. Anja Hense spoke about the compensation proceedings after the Second World War and German strategy to delay and avoid such proceedings. Lawyer Martin Klingner, who represents victims of German war crimes in the Italian courts, clarified this strategy by describing the course of his case. If single parts of the state apparatus had committed human rights violations, he maintained, states could not invoke the principle of immunity towards foreign courts with regard to the compensation victims. This practice is incompatible with human rights law and increasingly with international legal standards.

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