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Member State responsibility for the acts of international organizations


Cedric Ryngaert ,

Utrecht University School of Law
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Holly Buchanan

Chapman University
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In this article, it is argued that Member States do not normally incur liability for damages caused by acts of the international organizations of which they are members. Deciding otherwise may endanger the autonomy and separate legal personality of the organization. Member State liability can only be found in cases in which some intervening state conduct can be established, as is laid down in Part V of the Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations, drawn up by the International Law Commission in 2009. A strict interpretation of the principle that the organizational veil should not be pierced may prevent Member State intervention in the affairs of the organization, and thus strengthen the latter's autonomy vis-à-vis its Member States. However, in order to do justice to the legitimate claims of third parties adversely affected by the conduct of the organization, and to rebuff attempts at making Member States liable for such conduct, it is highly desirable that the organization puts in place adequate claims commissions and dispute-settlement mechanisms that are easily accessible to third parties.
How to Cite: Ryngaert, C. and Buchanan, H., 2011. Member State responsibility for the acts of international organizations. Utrecht Law Review, 7(1), pp.131–146. DOI:
Published on 27 Jan 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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