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Chapter 5. Defences And Circumstances Precluding Wrongfulness

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the question of whether defences and circumstances precluding wrongfulness can be regarded as a point of contact between state and individual responsibility for international crimes. It prompts three general remarks with respect to the relationship between state and individual responsibility for international crimes as far as the definition of defences and circumstances precluding wrongfulness is concerned. First, there is a very limited overlap between aggravated state responsibility and individual criminal liability, which essentially concerns self-defence and countermeasures. Second, it is possible to interpret defences and circumstances precluding wrongfulness differently, because they refer to two different kinds of conduct: the former apply to a serious wrongful state act, whereas the latter have to do with individual conduct amounting an international crime. Third, the particular nature of the crime of aggression derives from its definition under customary international law.

Keywords: aggravated state responsibility; circumstances; customary international law; defences; individual criminal liability; international crimes; wrongfulness



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