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in international law, actions taken by one state in response to the unjust or hostile acts of another state. The aim of retortion is to achieve, by lawful means, a situation in which disagreements among the parties may be settled and violated rights may be restored. Unlike reprisals, retortions are a response to lawful acts by a state that are committed by virtue of its territorial jurisdiction (for example, levying higher customs duties), but that harm the interests or prestige of another state.
Acts of retortion take different forms, for example, restricting the purchase of another country’s commodities or refusing entry to its citizens. Such acts are temporary and must cease immediately after the discriminatory measures are stopped. Contemporary international law permits retortion only as an extreme measure, when all other lawful means of influencing a state that is pursuing a discriminatory policy have failed.