Paper delivered in the 9th Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, Doha, Qatar on 5 May 2009
The Core Element of the Rule of Law
It is in the nature of law structured into the international community that its members are accountable for their acts when they inflict injury on the interests of others. This is the concept of liability built into the relations of subjects of law in the international sphere. As an integral part of a community governed by the rule of law, international responsibility inheres in a regime of rights and duties in which the breach of obligation gives rise to entitlement to redress. By its nature, therefore, a law-governed community rests on the fundamental premise that its members are liable for acts which the community recognizes as a wrongdoing.
Hence, in every legal system or legal culture, the concept of responsibility is an essential core of its reason for being. In dealing with the consequence of a wrongful act, this premise is articulated by the Permanent Court of International Justice in the Chorzaw Factory Case when it affirms that it is not only a principle of international law but “even a general conception of law” that “any breach of an engagement involves an obligation to make reparation”, which is an essential element of responsibility of States.