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“Jurisdictional Immunities” and “Certain Iranian Assets”: Missed Opportunities for Defining Sovereign Immunity at the International Court of Justice, Vol. 53 

Ylli Dautaj & William F. Fox

23 Mar 2022

Recently, in the case of Certain Iranian Assets, the ICJ was presented with a magnificent opportunity to rework, clarify, and enhance the troubled doctrine of sovereign immunity, especially with regard to immunity from execution. The authors believe that the ICJ had a singular opportunity—just as it did in the Jurisdictional Immunities case in 2012—to broaden and articulate a modern doctrine of sovereign immunity. Instead of seizing this opportunity, however, the court hid behind outmoded and difficult-to-rationalize concepts of judicial restraint and tradition. As a result, the court has now missed two great opportunities to discuss and clarify a pragmatic and liberal rule of immunity from jurisdiction and execution, which has bedeviled courts and practitioners for many years. 

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Ylli Dautaj is the Managin Partner at DER Legal; Visiting Lecturer, Uppsala University; PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh; Senior Research Associate, O.P. Jindal Global University, Jindal Global Law School, India. Many thanks to Dr. Filippo Fontanelli and Dr. Ana Vargas for their guidance at the inception of this research project and overall great supervision and mentoring. Can be contacted at Ylli.Dautaj 

William F. Fox is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Transnational Law, Peking University, Shenzhen Graduate Campus.