The following is a guest post by Luis Acosta, chief of one of the Law Library’s foreign, comparative, and international law divisions. Luis also recently wrote a post about a report on education as a constitutional right in foreign countries.
The doctrine of sovereign immunity, or state immunity, is an international law principle that limits how national governments can be sued in domestic courts. While the principle is grounded in the need under international law for governments to carry out international relations in an orderly fashion, it is mostly played out within the national procedural law of individual states governing when national courts can hear particular cases.
A recent report by the Law Library of Congress, Laws Lifting Sovereign Immunity in Selected Countries, provides illustrations of certain countries’ national sovereign immunity laws. Among the countries surveyed are Iran and Russia, which premise their sovereign immunity doctrine on negative reciprocity designed to deter other countries lifting sovereign immunity against them. Cuban law similarly provides for judicial claims for damages arising from acts supported by the United States government. The report also reviews the laws of Libya, Sudan, and Syria.
This report is one of many multinational and single-country reports on diverse subjects available on the Law Library’s website.
Researchers interested in learning more about the state immunity doctrine can use the resources of the Law Library of Congress, which holds many titles on this subject, including:
- Fox, Hazel and Philippa Webb. The Law of State Immunity. 3rd New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Yang, Xiaodong. State Immunity in International Law. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
- Alebeek, Rosanne van. The Immunity of States and Their Officials in International Criminal Law and International Human Rights Law. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
- Bankas, Ernest K. The State Immunity Controversy in International Law: Private Suits Against Sovereign States in Domestic Courts. New York: Springer, 2005.