Colonial Injustices and the Law of State Responsibility: The CARICOM Claim for Reparations
Heidelberg Journal of International Law, Vol. 2, p. 409-446, 2017
KFG Working Paper No. 4
32 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2017
Date Written: August 1, 2016
Caribbean States organised in CARICOM recently brought forward reparation claims against several European States to compensate slavery and (native) genocides in the Caribbean and even threatened to approach the International Court of Justice. The paper provides for an analysis of the facts behind the CARICOM claim and asks whether the law of state responsibility is able to provide for the demanded compensation. As the intertemporal principle generally prohibits retroactive application of today’s international rules, the paper argues that the complete claim must be based on the law of state responsibility governing in the time of the respective conduct. An inquiry into the history of primary (prohibition of slavery and genocide) as well as secondary rules of State responsibility reveals that both sets of rules were underdeveloped or non-existent at the times of slavery and alleged (native) genocides. Therefore, the author concludes that the CARICOM claim is legally flawed but nevertheless worth the attention as it once again exposes imperial and colonial injustices of the past and their legitimization by historical international law and international/natural lawyers.
Keywords: CARICOM, Colonialism, Law of State Responsibility, Compensation, Reparation, Caribbean, International Court of Justice
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