Immunities ratione personae and ratione materiae before international criminal courtsCharles Taylor case

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Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Laws

Original languageEnglish
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Award date15 Feb 2010
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Abstract

Under traditional international law governed by the concept of state sovereignty, any alleged responsibility for international wrongdoings used to be attributed to the state alone. Indeed, the role of an individual in traditional international law was marginalized. This position of an individual in international law began to change from the 20th century. Responsibility of individuals for breaches of international law started to be addressed in a relatively new branch of international law: international criminal law.

International criminal law qualifies certain types of conduct as crimes under international law incurring individual criminal responsibility. In this context, the 20th century witnessed development of various international and hybrid judicial mechanisms for prosecution of individuals who commit these crimes. What if these individuals happen to be heads of state?

The principle of individual criminal responsibility for crimes under international law is firmly established. However, the enforcement of this principle can, in some circumstances, be frustrated by operation of another well established principle, immunity of a Head of State based largely on the notions of sovereign equality of states.