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image of The Italian Yearbook of International Law Online

In its judgment No. 238/2014 the Italian Constitutional Court, whilst appearing to show respect for the ICJ’s 2012 judgment in Jurisdictional Immunities of the State, makes notable criticisms of that judgment and insists on its own role in the progressive development of international law in the field of State immunity. In particular, the main legal argument of the Constitutional Court, based on the fundamental and inviolable character of the right of access to justice in constitutional law, can also be used, although modified to some extent, in international law. The Court’s argument can also resolve the possible conflict between the international norm of State immunity, on the one hand, and the international norms on fundamental human rights and access to justice, on the other. The present contribution seeks to demonstrate that: (a) the right of access to justice and the connected right to reparation for violations of fundamental human rights are established by two customary international norms; (b) there is a potential conflict between these norms and the norm of State immunity; (c) this conflict becomes real and concrete when the limits on access to justice and reparation laid down by immunity are unjustified in accordance with the rule of “equivalent protection”; and (d) the solution to that conflict derives from the normative superiority of the customary norms on access to justice and reparation (being peremptory in nature when functionally linked to the violation of fundamental human rights) over the norm of State immunity. The judgment of the Constitutional Court, utilizing legal reasoning that can also translate to the level of international law, demonstrates that osmosis may occur between the arguments used in constitutional and international law, and that today there is growing interaction between the domestic and international legal orders and their common values. The law of human rights, placed at the very center of the Constitutional Court’s judgment, is the field in which this community of values emerges most clearly.


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