Human Rights and the Immunities of State Officials

Philippa Webb

in Hierarchy in International Law

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199647071
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738999 | DOI:
Human Rights and the Immunities of State Officials

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This chapter examines the norm conflict that arises when a state official is accused of serious human rights violations in the court of another state. The human rights norm militates in favour of holding individuals accountable for violations, regardless of their position, while the sovereign equality and effective performance norm favours upholding immunity. Drawing on the case law of twenty-four jurisdictions, the chapter identifies the circumstances in which courts decide that human rights prevail over immunities, and vice versa. It reveals various conflict avoidance techniques and sets out the inconsistent treatment of jus cogens. It concludes that the case law does not yet indicate the emergence of a human rights-based hierarchy within international law.

Keywords: state official; immunity; human rights; ratione materiae; ratione personae

Chapter.  20089 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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