Restitutio in integrum - A pipe dream?
"Any breach of an engagement involves an obligation to make reparation" - Chorzow Factory (Indemnity) Case, (1928) PCIJ Ser A, No 17, p 29.
This is but one example of what Law is essentially all about; of what Law aspires to be, and what it aspires to create. As I see it, Law aspires to create a world where people are sensitive towards others' feelings. A world which essentially takes care to see that none is hurt as a result of our commissions or omissions, and sometimes, irrespective of the fact whether we had an intention to hurt or no.
According to me, Law is an integral part of our souls. It is the torch light which guides us as to how we ought to be. It is a dharma in itself. It is not something coming to us from outside. Law is within all of us. Among the many maxims and doctrines which I have come to be acquainted with, this particular doctrine - restitutio in integrum - has caught my attention. All it means is this: the wrong doer has to see to it that the wronged is restored to his/her original position, as if no wrong has been done/no loss has been caused. This, I can say, is the essence of the entire theory behind Law. To prevent harm, and when harm nevertheless occurs, to see to it that the effects are almost negated. But can it so happen, practically speaking? I am afraid no. Seldom does this miracle happen.
Applying this doctrine to our lives, what I found was startling. How many of us have this in us, to care for others' feelings as we go around our day-to-day affairs? By this I mean to ask, how many of us are really concerned about the effects of our words and deeds on the people to whom they are directed to/ to the people, who, in some way or the other, are stakeholders in our activities? All we want is to be treated well by others. What about how we treat the people around us? And when we do treat others like the scum of earth, how many of us have the guts to own up the responsibility, to clean up the mess we created and to 'compensate' for the damages caused to the 'victim'? One? Two?
Isn't the same thing happening in the international arena, with the states too?
I feel, international law gives us the perfect opportunity to learn how to lead our lives. And I also believe that, law per se has a vibrant philosophy in its bosom, which is no lesser than a Bhagavadgita or the Bible!
If we won't try to derive meaning out of our law lessons, if we don't try to improve our lives every moment, law will forever remain boring, and life will forever remain confusing and irritating!
Restitutio in integrum will live only if we allow it to live; both as individuals and states!
Law will work, and so will all our lives, only if we allow it to work!
Not allowing it to remain a mere pipe dream, let us all work towards realising this beautiful doctrine, which has the potential to solve not only the inter-personal disputes, but also international disputes!