Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Passage of the FSIA in 1976 codified the restrictive theory of sovereign immunity, which provides that a foreign state will re-main immune from suit for its public acts but will lose immunity for its private and commercial acts. By placing the determination of a foreign government's immunity in the hands of the judiciary, Congress attempted to standardize an area of the law that had been governed by political relations between the United States and foreign governments.

The FSIA is the exclusive mechanism through which private parties can seek redress against foreign governments in United States courts. The Act provides a general grant of immunity to foreign sovereigns, but withdraws that immunity under certain exceptions.