Do International Organizations Enjoy Immunity Under Customary International Law?

In: International Organizations Law Review
Michael Wood Barrister, 20 Essex Street, London; Member of the International Law Commission; Senior Fellow, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law

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The present article considers whether there is “a general practice accepted as law” establishing rules of customary international law on the immunity of international organizations from the jurisdiction of domestic courts. Apart from treaties, there does not appear to be a great deal of practice or opinio juris on the immunity of international organizations. And while there are many treaties dealing with the matter, their significance for the generation of a rule of customary international law seems questionable. This article sketches the historical development of the immunity of international organizations since the nineteenth century, describes various approaches that have been suggested to this question, and sets out such practice as there is and academic consideration of that practice. It then considers whether practice has to date generated any rules of customary international law regarding immunities, and finally suggests some conclusions.

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