Jurisdictional immunities of the State for serious violations of international human rights law or the law of armed conflict
Paul David Mora
Host item entries:
Canadian yearbook of international law = Annuaire canadien de droit international, Vol. 50, 2012, p. 243-287
In its recent decision in Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v Italy: Greece Intervening), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held that Italy had failed to respect immunities enjoyed by Germany under international law when the Italian courts allowed civil actions to be brought against Germany for alleged violations of international human rights law (IHRL) and the law of armed conflict (LOAC) committed during the Second World War. This article evaluates the three arguments raised by Italy to justify its denial of immunity: first, that peremptory norms of international law prevail over international rules on jurisdictional immunities; second, that customary international law recognizes an exception to immunity for serious violations of IHRL or the LOAC; and third, that customary international law recognizes an exception to immunity for torts committed by foreign armed forces on the territory of the forum state in the course of an armed conflict. The author concludes that the ICJ was correct to find that none of these arguments deprived Germany of its right under international law to immunity from the civil jurisdiction of the Italian courts.