Utrecht Journal of International and European Law (Jul 2021)

Litigating the Immunities of International Organizations in Europe: The ‘Alternative- Remedy’ Approach and its ‘Humanizing’ Function

  • Luca Pasquet

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 36, no. 2


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There is a clear normative tension between the immunities of international organizations and the human rights to a court and to a remedy. Most national jurisdictions around the world have so far failed to recognize such a normative conflict and applied immunities irrespective of their consequences on individual claimants. However, following the 'Waite and Kennedy 'jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, a number of European national jurisdictions have accepted the idea that applying international organizations’ immunities may lead to breach the right to a court in case the claimants do not have access to an alternative remedy. This contribution focuses on the latter approach, which will be called ‘alternative-remedy approach’. Drawing upon Gunther Teubner conceptualization of fundamental rights, it stresses the violence of the today’s prevalent approach toward immunities, and maintains that, by refocusing the decision-making process on the situation of individual claimants, the alternative-remedy approach ‘humanizes’ a decision-making process otherwise blind to the fate of human beings in flesh and blood. The ambiguity of the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence as to the relevance of the alternative-remedy standard is also discussed, together with the consequences it had on the case-law of European national courts.