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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[Reuters] Italy and Germany at the Hague over jurisdictional immunities of the state

Italy on Thursday emphasized the importance of justice for World War II victims at the United Nations (UN) top court, in case concerning jurisdictional immunities of the state between Italy and Germany.


The case at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) delves into the complex matter of state immunity, a fundamental principle of international customary law based on the principle of sovereign equality, implying that states should refrain from the jurisdiction of other national courts.


Germany's second application to the ICJ reopened the debate initiated in 2004 when the Italian Court of Cassation refused to recognize Germany's state immunity and awarded monetary damages for the deportation and forced labor of an Italian national by German military authorities during World War II. 


In response to judges’ queries, Italy restated the importance of justice for victims, advocating for a case-by-case approach. The Italian delegation emphasized that state immunity should not be an absolute right or concept, but rather a right subject to limitations. 

They contended that Italy’s actions aligned with international humanitarian law and that grievous violations permit setting aside state immunity. 

To underscore the significance of justice for victims, they told the history of Villa Vigoni, now a center for German-Italian dialogue which also plays a significant role in the proceedings. 


Meanwhile, Germany stressed its assertion that Italy fails to uphold international law. 

Observers noted that certain state practices were omitted from the convention, with Italy and Greece advocating for exemptions. 

The applicant strongly contended that Italy's actions jeopardize the boundaries of international law and undermine state immunity, a cornerstone preserving legal integrity.


Thursday’s hearing came after the recent commemoration of the end of World War II on May 8. Both Italy and Germany were part of the defeated nations of the war, with allied powers prosecuting them over crimes against humanity.

EuroMUN Committee: International Court of Justice (ICJ)


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