On 3 February the International Court of Justice handed down its eagerly awaited decision in Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v Italy; Greece intervening). The Court concluded, by 12 votes to three, that Italy failed to respect the jurisdictional immunity enjoyed by Germany by allowing civil claims in Italian courts for crimes committed by the German Reich during the Second World War. The Court rejected Italy’s defence that state immunity is trumped by an overriding imperative to provide justice for violations of peremptory norms. The Court’s wholesale rejection of Italy’s arguments appears to leave little or no room for international law to develop so as to allow victims of serious international crimes to seek compensation in civil proceedings. And the decision confirms that public international law treats questions of immunity in civil and criminal proceedings fundamentally differently. But can this distinction be justified? Is there a prospect that the Jurisdictional Immunities decision will have a spill over effect for domestic criminal proceedings, reversing the achievements heralded in the landmark case of Pinochet (No 3)  1 AC 147?
Associate Professor Tim Stephens
Associate Professor Tim Stephens is an international lawyer and human geographer and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law. Tim holds a PhD in law from the University of Sydney, and an M.Phil in geography from the University of Cambridge.
Tim is Co-Director (with Associate Professor Fleur Johns) of the Sydney Centre for International Law and Co-Editor in Chief (with Susan Shearing) of the Asia Pacific Journal of Environmental Law. He is a practising solicitor in New South Wales, and before taking up an academic career was an associate to a Federal Court justice, and practised in a leading commercial firm.
In 2010 Tim was awarded the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Academy of Environmental Law Junior Scholarship Prize for his contribution to environmental law scholarship. Tim is a regular media commentator in Australia and internationally on issues of international law and environmental law.
Authorised by the Dean, Faculty of Law
22 August, 2012