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A HISTORIC DECISION OF THE ITALIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ON THE BALANCE BETWEEN THE ITALIAN LEGAL ORDER’S FUNDAMENTAL VALUES AND CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW

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In judgment No. 238 of 22 October 2014, the Italian Constitutional Court ruled on the legitimacy of certain norms of the Italian legal order which relate to the implementation of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) judgment in theJurisdictional Immunities of the State case. In this case the Court found that customary international law concerning State immunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity could not enter the Italian legal order, as it was incompatible with the basic principles of the Italian Constitution. Judgment No. 238/2014 thus reveals a key connection between domestic fundamental values and internationally recognized values. If this connection exists, national courts should decline to give effect to an international decision if it contravenes a fundamental obligation under national as well as international law. Thus, domestic courts may play the role of defenders of the international rule of law from international law itself. According to international law, as well as Italian law, there is no doubt that enforcement of an ICJ decision is mandatory for the State to which the decision is directed. In the case under review, however, the requirement to implement the ruling of the ICJ was set aside in order to defer to the requirement to respect the fundamental values of the Italian legal system, in accordance with the theory of “counter-limits” as developed by the Constitutional Court. This conclusion appears also consistent with the German order, which renders quite weak any possible reaction, or protest, by that State.

10.1163/22116133-90000072
/content/journals/10.1163/22116133-90000072
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/content/journals/10.1163/22116133-90000072
2015-10-22
2016-12-07

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