Rainbow Warrior

Facts of the case

In the case, two agents of the French Secret Forces were convicted for the destruction of a ship docked in New Zealand. France attempted to repatriate the agents on the premise that they required medical treatment. The incident of Rainbow warrior incident resulted in the killing of a Dutch photographer by the French agents. The sank ship intended to stop French nuclear tests on the French Polynesia island. The operation led to the arrest and conviction of two members of the French secret forces by New Zealand.

What is the issue of International Law in question?

The issue of international law presented in the case entails the factor of state responsibility. State responsibility, as expressed in international law, refers to the fact that the state has the responsibility for the private actions of its citizens, to the extent that the actions are subsequently adopted and owned by the state. The laws associated with state responsibility entail the principles that determine the instance and how a state takes responsibility for the breach of international law by its citizens.

The case represents an instance in which the state could be held responsible for sending its agents abroad to engage in acts that defy international law and the customary laws of the target country. Following the actions of a state in such a way against another state, it is natural that the aggressor state takes responsibility for the actions and compensate the agitated state.  The agents of the aggressor states are, however, issued with immunity from the local coats. However, in the case of French and New Zealand, despite the attempt of France to rely on the doctrine of force majeure in the medical grounds to provide immunity for its agents, New Zealand managed to call out France and the international law. Consequently, it tried the French agents in New Zealand.

What was the answer to the question?

In the case, the decision reached by the arbitration panel failed to approve the use of force majeure as requested France. Although the repatriation of the France agents was justified, the panel ruled that the performance of the obligation of France under the treaty of international law had not been justified to be impossible.

The rationale

The doctrine of force majeure refers to a clause that free both parties in a contract from their obligations in an extraordinary event or circumstances. The denial of force majeure in France and New Zealand followed the assertion that the clause party does not entirely excuse nonperformance. It is only suspended for the duration of the force majeure. The judgment was that France was to act under the rule of state responsibility that did not create any specific obligations but determined in general the case of a breach pf state obligation and the legal consequences associated with the violation of the specific obligation.

What does this tell us about international law?

The case elaborates on the aspect of international law as the law that governs the relationships between different states within the international system. It creates the assertion that even with the needs of various states to achieve their obligations within the international system, it is necessary that the states under the set regulations that ensure that different states coexist harmoniously. As expressed in the case, the subject of state responsibility elaborates on the fact that a sovereign state within the international system has the responsibility and jurisdiction of acting in the place of its citizens. In essence, in the state that a citizen of a specific state within the international system commits an offense, an action is taken against the state of origin. The case also elaborates that despite the existence of instances where states could get various privileges, including the element of force majeure, the privileges could be limited by the rules of various treaties within the international system.

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