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Sovereign Immunity and Enforcement of Awards in International Commercial Arbitration

55 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2013  

Faizat Badmus-Busari

Emory University, School of Law; Tulane University - Law School

Date Written: April 25, 2013


International commercial transactions often involve states and state agencies in contractual dealings with individuals and multinational corporations and owing to the reluctance of states to subject disputes arising from their transactions to the courts of another state, arbitration is often the forum of choice for resolution of disputes arising from such international commercial transactions involving state parties and their agencies. The ultimate goal of arbitration proceedings is the rendering of an enforceable award for settlement of the disputes between the parties. However, in the event of an unfavorable award against a state or state agency in international arbitration, one veritable hurdle usually encountered by the successful party in enforcing the award is the plea of sovereign immunity by the state entity. Since the very essence of arbitration is the rendering of an enforceable award, this plea of sovereign immunity serves to frustrate and defeat the essence of entering into an international arbitration with a state entity. Nevertheless, in view of the nature of international business transactions, multinational companies and other international business agencies cannot avoid dealing with state entities and international arbitration remains the preferred dispute resolution forum for these international transactions. So how do these individuals and multinational corporations protect themselves, their investments and the sanctity of their arbitration proceedings from been frustrated by a plea of sovereign immunity by the state party in the event of a successful award?

This research aims at undertaking a critical analysis of the concept of sovereign immunity and its applicability to international commercial arbitration proceedings and to highlight recent trends and issues in the area of sovereign immunity that are frequently encountered in international commercial arbitration. Essentially, this research shall examine the problems encountered by non-state parties in enforcing a successful award against state entities and scrutinize the various ingenious ways that have been devised by these non-state parties to side-track and subvert the plea of sovereign immunity by state entities.

Keywords: International Arbitration, Commercial Arbitration, Immunity, Sovereign Immunity

Suggested Citation

Badmus-Busari, Faizat, Sovereign Immunity and Enforcement of Awards in International Commercial Arbitration (April 25, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Faizat Badmus-Busari (Contact Author)

Emory University, School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton RD NE
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

Tulane University - Law School ( email )

6329 Freret Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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