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Immunity of International Organizations in Post-conflict International Administrations

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The role played by international organizations in international law has evolved in the past decades. However, the continued application of an absolute system of immunities to international organizations has often led to a perception of impunity, in particular when organizations are involved in the administrations of foreign territories. Even though absolute immunity has been described as an 'anachronism', this article argues that international organization immunity serves a useful and essential purpose. The grant of privileges and immunities to international organizations is indispensable to allow the organization to effectively and independently carry out its functions. The functional reflections that lie at the basis of the immunities system of international organizations still are extremely pertinent when organizations exercise administrative duties in place of a state. This articles thus claims that there is a need to maintain immunities in order to preserve institutional autonomy, even when the UN or another international organization has taken up administrative duties in a state or territory, and suggests that, instead of proposing a revision or abolition of the system of immunities, the focus should be placed on the establishment of effective alternative mechanisms to assess alleged violations of the international legal obligations of the organization.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in International Law, Leiden University


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