Foreign relations law expert and Vanderbilt Law Professor Ingrid Weurth has noted that “even as nation-states accept treaty-based obligations toward their own citizens, they refuse to make themselves explicitly accountable in the national courts of other countries and usually refuse to hold other states accountable in their own courts. Immunity often remains the stylized equalizer.” Closely linked to state immunity is the concept of immunity for officials of those foreign states. Such immunity for foreign officials may be based simply on their status as foreign officials or the fact that their conduct was performed on behalf of a state during the official’s service to his or her country.
While not identical to determinations of foreign state immunity, former State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh has noted that rulings on the immunity of a foreign official are “derivative of . . . determinations of state immunity.” As such, determining whether an individual foreign official should be immune from the jurisdiction of a court requires a delicate balancing of complex factors such as customary international law and state practice, standards governing personal accountability for human rights violations, the standards for recognition of a state, domestic precedent as well as foreign policy implications.
This Symposium seeks to foster an interdisciplinary discussion about the complex web of issues to be considered and challenges faced when making such determinations, as well as the doctrinal rationale for the immunity of foreign officials.
1. Challenging the Customary Underpinnings of Foreign Official Immunity
2. The Adjudication of Foreign Official Immunity Determinations in the United States and Beyond Post-Samantar
3. Human Rights Implications of Foreign Official Immunity
4. Theoretical Rationales for Foreign Official Immunity and the Shielding of Personal Responsibility
9:00–9:05: Introduction by Annie Showalter (DJCIL Editor-in-Chief)
9:10–9:55: “On the Existence of a Customary Rule Granting Functional Immunity to State Officials and its Exceptions: Back to Square One” by Micaela Frulli (University of Florence), with discussant Mark Weisburd (University of North Carolina School of Law).
9:55–10:40: “Diplomatic Immunity and Human Trafficking: A Long March to Justice” by Martina Vandenberg (The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center), with discussant Sarah Adamczyk (Duke University School of Law)
11:00–12:15: “The Adjudication of Foreign Official Immunity Determinations in the United States and Beyond Post-Samantar” by Dr. Christopher Totten (Kennesaw State University) and “A U.S. Department of State Perspective on Foreign Official Immunity” by John Bellinger (Arnold & Porter, LLP), with discussant Curtis Bradley (Duke University School of Law)
12:30–1:25: Lunch and keynote speech with Concepción Escobar Hernández, the International Law Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Immunity of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction.
1:30–2:15: “The Sovereign Immunity Underpinnings of Foreign Official Immunity” by Elizabeth Wilson (Seton Hall University), with discussant Laurence Helfer (Duke University School of Law).
2:15–3:00: “Foreign Official Immunity and the Attribution Puzzle” by Chimène Keitner (University of California, Hastings College of Law), with discussant Bo Rutledge (Dean, University of Georgia School of Law)
3:20–4:05: “A Comparative Study of U.S. and Chinese Views Towards Foreign Official Immunity” by Julian Ku (Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University), with discussant Ralf Michaels (Duke University School of Law).
4:05–4:10: Closing Remarks by Ralf Michaels, DJCIL Faculty Advisor
For more information, please contact our Symposium Editors: Dominic Lerario (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jeb Dennis (email@example.com).