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Domestic Workers’ Human Rights Versus Diplomatic Immunity: Developments in International and National Jurisprudence

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Diplomatic immunities significantly contribute to a protection gap for domestic workers in diplomatic households who are victims of egregious forms of exploitation and abuse, and thus, of serious human rights violations. The abuse of such immunities by diplomatic agents in order to shun judicial review by the courts of the receiving States constitutes indeed a serious obstacle to obtaining redress. The resulting conflict between international rules on immunity and domestic workers’ human rights epitomizes the increasingly frequent challenges posed by international human rights law to classic rules of international law, and raises the issue of how to find balanced solutions to such conflicts. Against this background, the uncertain and discretional character of diplomatic measures prevents them from constituting a tool of legal protection for domestic workers experiencing human rights violations. With that in mind, this contribution inquires on alternative remedies available in international and domestic law, with a specific focus on the relationship between international rules on immunities and two other bodies of law, i.e. international human rights law and peremptory norms of international law.


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