Journal Article

State Immunity for the Acts of State Officials

Zachary Douglas

in British Yearbook of International Law

Volume 82, issue 1, pages 281-348
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 0068-2691
Published online May 2012 | e-ISSN: 2044-9437 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bybil/brs002
State Immunity for the Acts of State Officials

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This article considers the entitlement of a foreign state to assert its jurisdictional immunity in respect of proceedings before the forum state's court in which an individual official of the foreign state is the named defendant and is outwith the limited class of high ranking officials benefiting from a personal immunity. In Jones v Saudi Arabia the House of Lords concluded that the legal test for establishing the requisite connection between the impugned acts of the foreign state official and the foreign state as a corporate entity should be supplied by the rules of attribution in the law of state responsibility. Other national courts have relied upon the mere fact of the foreign official's employment in the government of the foreign state. The thesis advanced in this article is that such approaches are wrong in customary international law: the foreign state is entitled to assert its jurisdictional immunity in respect of proceedings relating to acts of the foreign state official performed in the service of the foreign state but acts proscribed by international norms directed to the conduct of individuals cannot be characterised as acts in the service of the foreign state.

Keywords: state or sovereign immunity; state officials; peremptory or jus cogens norms; torture; individual criminal responsibility

Journal Article.  34559 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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