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Declaratory Judgments and Official Apologies as Forms of Reparation for the Non-Material Damage Suffered by the State: the Djibouti-France Case

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The present article deals with the different manifestations of the non-material damage in inter-State legal relations. The recent decision rendered by the International Court of Justice on 4 June 2008 regarding certain questions of mutual assistance in criminal matters between Djibouti and France provides an opportunity to examine the intricate distinction between legal and moral damage and the consequences deriving therefrom, in terms of reparation. The judgment confirms a tendency emerging from legal literature as well as by international practice, that different types of non-material damage require different forms of reparation. Official apologies or public acknowledgment of the wrongful act – although also theoretically applicable as reparation for legal damage – are considered the most appropriate forms of reparation for the moral damage caused to a State. On the other hand, the judicial declaration of the unlawful character of an act appears an important reparatory result for the legal damage implicit in the breach of any international obligation.

Affiliations: 1: Ph.D. candidate, University of Milan


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