- National courts, international crimes and the functional immunity of state officials
- Netherlands International Law Review
- Volume | Issue number
- 59 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL)
This article examines the extent to which state officials are shielded from foreign jurisdiction by functional immunity when they stand accused of committing international crimes. It argues that the development of the principle of individual responsibility for international crimes should be understood as posing a limit to the operation of the rule of functional immunity. States have agreed that international crimes, even when committed within the context of the ostensible exercise of state authority under international law, do not qualify as official acts for functional immunity purposes since they can no longer be solely attributed to the state and not to the official personally. The article thereby takes issue with the increasingly popular conceptualization of functional immunity in terms of an act of state immunity, in which attribution, rather than exclusive attribution, is the controlling notion. It does acknowledge that international law may pose limits on the competence of national courts to establish jurisdiction in certain circumstances, but proposes to undo the discussion of the shackles of immunity law and to recognize the operation of an alternative, less far-reaching legal principle.
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