Austrian Courts and the Immunity of International Organizations

In: International Organizations Law Review
Kirsten Schmalenbach Professor of Public International Law, University of Salzburg,

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Austria is host state to several international organizations, and as a result the immunity of international organizations and their officials is a constant concern to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from time to time this issue is considered by Austrian Courts. But who in Austria authoritatively decides on the presence of jurisdictional immunities: the judiciary or the government? What kind of acts or omissions count as a waiver of immunity, and who has the power to do just that? What is the scope of the organization’s immunity ratione materiae, especially when compared to the immunity of states? What is the scope of the jurisdictional immunity of officials? And, finally, do Austrian courts balance the jurisdictional immunity of international organizations with the human right of access to courts? This paper outlines the international laws and domestic rules applicable to questions of immunity, and then analyzes eleven final judgments from Austrian courts that deal with the immunity of international organizations and their officials. It concludes with a brief evaluation of the scope of the immunity of international organizations and their officials in light of the Austrian legal order.

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