Political Economy Graduation Tonight...
Liveblogging World War II: May 16, 1941

Ummm... No. Simply No.

Duncan Hollis writes:

What kind of immunity does the IMF Managing Director Have? The arrest on sexual assault charges of IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Khan (or “DSK” as he’s known to the French tabloids) is big news this morning.... International Organizational immunity is a complicated topic...  

The relevant U.S. law, the International Organizations Immunity Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. 881, generally tracks consular immunity for international organization officers and employees. Thus, 22 USC 881d(b) provides:

(b) Representatives of foreign governments in or to international organizations and officers and employees of such organizations shall be immune from suit and legal process relating to acts performed by them in their official capacity and falling within their functions as such representatives, officers, or employees except insofar as such immunity may be waived by the foreign government or international organization concerned...

Thus, it seems at first glance DSK is entitled only to official acts immunity.... But, before we all assume official acts immunity is the governing framework, there’s a complicating factor — could DSK actually have diplomatic immunity?  Not all international organization officials are subject to official acts immunity, some of the most senior (see, e.g., the Secretary General and Assistant Secretaries General of the UN, senior OAS officials) get the same privileges and immunities as diplomats, meaning that they are absolutely immune in almost all cases from criminal arrest or civil suit.  And, at least some members of the IMF get this treatment as well:

principal resident representatives of members of a specialized agency and such resident members of the staffs of representatives of a specialized agency as may be agreed upon between the principal executive officer of the specialized agency, the Government of the United States and the Government of the Member concerned, shall whether residing inside or outside the headquarters district, be entitled in the territory of the United States to the same privileges and immunities, subject to corresponding conditions and obligations, as it accords to diplomatic envoys accredited to it...

Thus, if DSK were a “principal resident representative” (PRR) of the IMF...

He is not. The French Executive Director is a PRR. The Managing Director is not, because he is not representing any nation-state.

he might actually be immune from arrest entirely...

He isn't.

Indeed, Hollis goes on:

I’m guessing he does not qualify because he’s not representing anyone other than the IMF as its Managing Director...

Indeed.

But that creates the rather odd result that a lesser IMF official might have absolute/diplomatic immunity denied to the titular head of the IMF...

That result is not odd at all. The PRR for France is a French diplomatic official. The MD is a civil servant. One is not "greater" and the other is not "lesser" in any sense. There is no reason for the MD's privileges and immunities to be a superset of an ED's.

And Hollis appears to realize he has gone wrong:

(on the other hand, PRR immunity might be deemed more a function of the respect due the sovereign states these individuals represent rather than anything derived from their service to the IMF itself).

It is.

This is not to say that the court that decided Bush v. Gore could not let DSK go scot-free--the courts can do whatever the judges vote for.

But don't pretend that such a decision would have a foundation in anything other than international politics...

Comments