Domestic Jurisdiction over International Financial Institutions for Injuries to Project-Affected Individuals

The Case of Jam v International Finance Corporation

In: International Organizations Law Review
Clemens Treichl Columbia Law School,

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August Reinisch University of Vienna,

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Project-affected individuals are increasingly bringing tort claims against international financial institutions in domestic courts. In the US, such plaintiffs such plaintiffs have regularly failed to overcome the obstacle of the defendant institutions’ jurisdictional immunity under the International Organizations Immunities Act. In pending litigation, the US Supreme Court has resolved a long-standing debate as to its scope.

This paper examines the issue of jurisdictional immunity in the context of international project finance. It focuses on the specific frameworks established in treaties, analyses the interplay between international and domestic US norms and looks at possible implications of the exercise of domestic jurisdiction.

A key finding is that US courts, at least previously, used to grant more extensive immunities than international law required. While doubts persist as to whether domestic courts are a suitable venue for claims brought by project-affected people, existing means of international dispute settlement should be strengthened.

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