Thu, Mar 11

POL 309-800, International Law
SUNY Oswego | Spring 2021
Dr. Craig Warkentin

  • Ch. 4, Jurisdiction (189-216)

  • Explain under what circumstances, and on what bases, certain government officials are accorded immunity (or not).

  • in absentia (200)
  • ratione materiae (195, 214)
  • ratione personae (195, 214)


P. 199

  1. What do you understand the double criminality requirement to be for extradition from the U.K.?
  2. Why is torture considered to be a crime that confers upon states the right to prosecute the torturer regardless of any connection with the prosecuting state?
  3. Why did the Court decide that Senator Pinochet could not claim immunity for acts of torture occurring after the date that Britain made the prohibition of torture as found in the Torture Convention part of its legislation even though Pinochet was still President of Chile at that time?
  4. Why did the Court, despite its acknowledgment of the jus cogens nature of the prohibition of torture, uphold immunity for Senator Pinochet with respect to acts of torture committed prior to the Torture Convention's effective date?

P. 207

  1. What justifications does the Court articulate for finding that an incumbent foreign minister enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of Belgium courts even for grave international crimes?
  2. What are the implications of paragraphs 60 and 61 for the immunity ratione materiae of former officials accused of similar international crimes? Are these dicta (i.e., commentary unnecessary to the case's outcome) consistent or inconsistent with the Pinochet decision above? Can violations of article 1 of the Torture Convention be said to constitute "acts committed during that period of office in a private capacity"?
  3. If Iraq had issued an international arrest warrant for U.S. President George W Bush or U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld when they were still in office, accusing them of war crimes, do you think an incumbent U.S. President or incumbent U.S. Secretary of Defense should be able to claim immunity from Iraq's national courts? What about a former U.S. President or a former U.S. Secretary of Defense?

P. 214

  1. To what extent do U.S. judicial decisions on the immunity of foreign officials turn on an interpretation and application of international law, as opposed to deference to the Executive? Does the answer depend on whether the immunity being decided is ratione personae (status) or ratione materiae (conduct)? Why?
  2. Why did the court's ruling find Samantar not to be entitled to immunity for acts that he committed as an official on behalf of what was then the Somali government?
  3. Would the court's ruling have been different had the State Department made a "suggestion of immunity" in Samantar's favor?