Georg K v Ministry of the Interior

JurisdictionAustria
CourtAdministrative Court (Austria)
Austria, Administrative Court.

(Eichler, President; Kadecka, Skorjanec, Jurasek and Draxler, Judges)

Georg K
and
Ministry of the Interior1

The individual in international law Miscellaneous Refugees Entitlement to status of Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 Article 1 F (c) Exclusion of application of Convention to persons suspected of acting contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations Whether convicted terrorist entitled to refugee status The law of Austria

International organization and administration The United Nations Interpretation of the Charter of the United Nations Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, Article 1 F (c) Exclusion of application of Convention to persons suspected of acting contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations Whether Convention requires conduct of individuals to conform to principles of the United Nations Charter Convicted terrorist claiming refugee status Whether bomb attacks contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations Extent to which use of armed force in the common interest permissible under United Nations Charter Extent of right of resistance to unjust regime under United Nations Charter The law of Austria

The individual in international law In general Position of individuals in international law Human rights and freedoms Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 Article 1 F (c) Exclusion of application of Convention to persons suspected of acting contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations Whether Convention requires conduct of individuals to conform to principles of United Nations Charter Convicted terrorist claiming refugee status Bomb attacks carried out by Italian national in Italy to further autonomy claims of people of South Tyrol Whether contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations Extent to which use of armed force in the common interest permissible under United Nations Charter Extent of right of resistance to unjust regime under United Nations Charter The law of Austria

Summary: The facts:The complainant, an Italian national born in South Tyrol and of German origin, played a significant role in the South Tyrolian resistance and subsequently fled to Austria in 1961 in order to escape apprehension by the Italian authorities. In 1968 he was convicted by an Austrian court of having participated in two bomb attacks committed in the Italian South Tyrol in that year. In the same year the Austrian Minister of the Interior refused his application to be issued with identity papers and travel documents as a refugee pursuant to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 on the ground that, according to Article 1 F (c), the provisions of the Convention did not apply to him since there were serious reasons for considering that he was guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. He appealed to the Austrian Administrative Court, arguing that both the United Nations Charter and

the General Assembly Resolution of 31 October 1960 concerning the dispute between Austria and Italy over South Tyrol were aimed at the conduct of member States of the United Nations as such and did not deal with the relations between individual citizens and their own States. Violations of the purposes and principles of the United Nations, he contended, occurred only if an individual acted in a manner capable of bringing about such a violation through his State at an international level, for instance by seeking to induce the State to commit a particular act on the international plane. Furthermore, he contended, the United Nations Charter did not outlaw the use of force where it was used in the common interest of an ethnic group to further their efforts to enforce their right to self-determination and respect for their human rights

Held:The complaint was dismissed.

(1) By referring to the purposes and principles of the United Nations, the Refugees Convention made them indirectly legally enforceable, thereby projecting norms of international law onto the individual plane of natural persons. The Court had already held in an earlier judgment2 that the effect of Article 1 F (c) of the Convention was to require that the conduct of individual persons be measured according to the principles established for the subjects of international law.

(2) The decisive factor in determining whether the conduct of a natural person fell within Article 1 F (c) was whether or not it was aimed at and objectively capable of impairing or disturbing the peaceful order among the subjects of international law as set out in the Charter of the United Nations. Only in this sense could it be said that the conduct of individuals had to be related to international law and to the international relations between States. This requirement was more easily satisfied by persons who held a position enabling them to influence the actions of a State either directly or indirectly but it was not excluded that other persons could fulfil it.

(3) It could not be accepted that the acts of force attributed to the complainant were solely directed against his own State and did not therefore concern international relations. They had to be seen against the background of an international dispute between Austria and Italy concerning the right to autonomy of the People of South Tyrol, which had been the subject of a General Assembly Resolution in 1960 calling for its settlement by exclusively peaceful means, which was followed by negotiations between the various parties spread over several years. The complainant must have realised that the bomb attacks were likely to be prejudicial to the pending negotiations and consequently to the peaceful settlement of the international dispute. In these circumstances it was...

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