Foreign Official Immunity

Foreign official immunity refers to international and domestic rules that shield foreign officials from suit. Diplomatic and consular immunity are governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, respectively. Under customary international law, “head-of-state” immunity provides absolute immunity to sitting heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers, whereas “conduct-based” immunity shields lower-level officials and former officials from suits based on acts taken in their official capacities. In the United States, head-of-state and conduct-based immunity are rules of federal common law.

A Primer on Foreign Official Immunity

Foreign official immunity refers to rules of international and domestic law that shield foreign officials from suit and from criminal prosecution. These rules are related to the rules of foreign sovereign immunity, codified in the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), but they differ from those rules in many respects. Rules of foreign official immunity…

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