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4 Immunities of States and their Officials

Rosanne van Alebeek, Riccardo Pavoni

From: International Law in Domestic Courts: A Casebook

Edited By: André Nollkaemper, August Reinisch, Ralph Janik, Florentina Simlinger

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 13 July 2024

Diplomatic immunity — Heads of state and other senior officials — Act of state doctrine — Immunity from jurisdiction — Customary international law

This chapter examines a selection of national court decisions dealing with immunity rules applicable to states and their officials. The law of international immunities highlights the central role played by domestic courts in the application and development of international law. Decisions made by domestic courts are the primary source of state practice when it comes to the issue of establishing the scope of a particular immunity rule under customary international law. The chapter considers national jurisprudence relating to the principal immunity rules, namely: state immunity, diplomatic immunity, and head of state immunity, as well as functional immunity and consular immunity. It also analyses domestic decisions which show persistent disagreement as to whether immunity arises from a rule of international law or—rather—domestic law. It finally focuses on the case law concerning the tension between international immunity rules and the fundamental rights of individuals under domestic constitutional law or international human rights and criminal law. The cases show that domestic courts often differ in their interpretations of immunity rules.

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