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The topic of immunities from jurisdiction in international law is perhaps one of the most controversial in modern international relations. At one level, immunities such as diplomatic and state immunity are regarded as anachronistic; existing only to shield states and their officials from the normal processes of law, either civil or criminal. At another level, immunities are identified as essential safeguards to the proper functioning of relations between states.
This book seeks to analyse and critically evaluate these apparently dichotomous understandings of the concept of immunities. It provides an analysis of the historical development of, and the theoretical justifications for, international immunities before turning to consider the substantive law relating to each of the major forms of immunity. Finally, the book examines current challenges to the sustainability of the law of international immunities, including recent developments in the fields of human rights and international criminal law, as well as developments in international trade and investment.
By focusing on the law of international immunities as a whole the book is able to highlight the inter-relationship of concepts common to the various substantive forms of immunity from jurisdiction. To this extent, the book does not provide a detailed exposition of the relevant black-letter law but is intended to be an examination of first principle. Ultimately, the book argues that the sustainability of international immunities in general is dependent on a clearer distinction being drawn between various types of immunity, in particular the central distinction between immunity rationae materiae and immunity rationae personae.