The Limits of International Organization Immunity: An Argument for a Restrictive Theory of Immunity Under the IOIA

Note - Volume 95 - Issue 4

This Note examines the current circuit split in the level of immunity afforded to international organizations under the International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945 (IOIA). Under the IOIA, designated international organizations may receive “the same immunity from suit and every form of judicial process as is enjoyed by foreign governments.” However, the Third Circuit and D.C. Circuit disagree on whether the IOIA intended to incorporate subsequent changes in the law of foreign sovereign immunity. Accordingly, international organizations may be entitled to either the “virtually absolute immunity” afforded to foreign states in 1945 or the restrictive immunity afforded to foreign states today. This Note argues that the IOIA, properly read, does not provide international organizations with absolute immunity. Moreover, applying a theory of restrictive immunity under the IOIA would benefit international organizations through lower transaction costs, increased organizational accountability, and improved public perception. Finally, the Note provides a comparative analysis of the various approaches taken by Austria, Italy, and the United Kingdom regarding international organization immunity.

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