Germany v. Italy at the International Court of Justice


Location: Eck Hall of Law, Room 3140

Christian Tomuschat, international human rights lawyer, emeritus professor of law at Humboldt University, Berlin

Tomuschat will discuss public aspects of this case in which he serves as one of the agents for Germany in proceedings against Italy before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. In recent years, Italian courts have ordered the German State to pay damages to victims of Nazi war crimes committed during Germany’s occupation of Italy between 1943 and 1945. Germany alleges that “[t]hrough its judicial practice … Italy has infringed and continues to infringe its obligations towards Germany under international law” and has “repeatedly disregarded the jurisdictional immunity of Germany as a sovereign State.” This important case will allow the Court to clarify the complex issues surrounding when a State can be sued in the domestic courts of another country for official, governmental activities that violate human rights.

Professor Tomuschat is one of the world’s leading international human rights lawyers. Before taking the chair of international law at Humboldt, he taught for 22 years as a law faculty of the University of Bonn where he directed the Institute of International Law. From 1977 to 1986, Professor Tomuschat was a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the treaty body created by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; from 1985 to 1996, he served on the International Law Commission (president in 1992). From 1990 to 1993, he was the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Guatemala; from 1997 to 1999, he chaired the Truth Commission established by the Guatemalan Peace Accords, known as the Commission for Historical Clarification. His judicial experience includes serving as judge of the administrative tribunals of the Inter-American Development Bank and the African Development Bank. He has represented the Federal Government of Germany before European Court of Justice in Luxemburg and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and, currently, before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Professor Tomuschat served as a member of the International Commission of Jurists (Geneva) from 1981 to 1996. He was the President of the German Society of International Law from 1993 to 1997 and was admitted to the Institut de Droit International in 1997.

Sponsored by the Center for Civil and Human Rights; co-sponsored by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies