Immunity Ratione Materiae of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction: Where is the State Practice in Support of Exceptions?

Murphy, S. (2018). Immunity Ratione Materiae of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction: Where is the State Practice in Support of Exceptions? AJIL Unbound, 112, 4-8.

GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2018-02

GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-02

6 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2018 Last revised: 9 Apr 2018

See all articles by Sean D. Murphy

Sean D. Murphy

George Washington University - Law School

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

This essay, a contribution to an AJIL Unbound symposium on “The Present and Future of Foreign Official Immunity,” considers the adoption in 2017 by the U.N. International Law Commission of a draft article (and annex) for its project on immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction. Draft Article 7 identifies six “crimes under international law in respect of which immunity ratione materiae shall not apply”: genocide; crimes against humanity; war crimes; crime of apartheid; torture; and enforced disappearance. Given the divergences within the Commission when considering and adopting draft Article 7, it is difficult to conclude that the Commission is expressing a view that draft Article 7 reflects lex lata. But there is a further reason to doubt its status as lex lata: the lack of State practice – let alone widespread, representative and consistent State practice – in support of denying immunity for those crimes under customary international law. At best, Article 7 might be regarded as a proposal by the Commission for a new rule that could be embodied in a treaty, which States might choose to accept or reject.

Keywords: International law, International Law Commission, immunity, State official, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, apartheid, torture, enforced disappearance

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Murphy, Sean D., Immunity Ratione Materiae of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction: Where is the State Practice in Support of Exceptions? (2018). Murphy, S. (2018). Immunity Ratione Materiae of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction: Where is the State Practice in Support of Exceptions? AJIL Unbound, 112, 4-8., GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2018-02, GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3127865

Sean D. Murphy (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

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