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A Critique of the Terrorism Exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

57 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2003  

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross

Boies, Schiller & Flexner

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While the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act generally prevents foreign states from being the subject of lawsuits in U.S. courts, countries that have been designated as state sponsors of terrorism by the Secretary of State are exempted from this protection. Judgments entered under this "terrorism exception" already total more than $4 billion, with a number of suits still pending. These judgments may pose difficulties for the United States by shifting foreign policymaking power from the executive to the courts, encouraging retaliatory legislation, provoking hostility internationally, and posing barriers to normalization of relations with defendant states. In this Note, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross argues that, because the costs of the terrorism exception are substantial and the benefits minimal, the terrorism exception is a harmful piece of legislation. He explores alternatives policies that the United States can pursue.

Keywords: terrorism, foreign sovereign immunity, human rights litigation

Suggested Citation

Gartenstein-Ross, Daveed, A Critique of the Terrorism Exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Available at SSRN: or

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross (Contact Author)

Boies, Schiller & Flexner ( email )

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Armonk, NY 10504
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