Ingrid Wuerth

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Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

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If the international law of immunity once purported to make foreign states, their rulers, their officials, and their boats all identical in some sense--the sovereign equality of states--today immunity distinguishes and differentiates between the state's commercial and private features, its tortious and non-tortious conduct committed in the forum state, and sometimes even the torture, war crimes, and acts of terrorism carried out in its name. Of course, sovereign equality has diminished in general as human rights have grown, but even as nation-states accept treaty-based obligations toward their own citizens, they refuse to make themselves explicitly accountable in the national courts of other countries and usually refuse to hold other states accountable in their own courts. Immunity often remains the stylized equalizer.

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