How can I research privileges and immunities of the United Nations?
Last Updated: Sep 10, 2019     Views: 2979

Privileges and immunities are a special topic within the larger subject of international institutional law. International organizations, their officials, and representatives of their member states enjoy certain privileges and immunities in order to carry out their functions.

Privileges and immunities are granted to:

  • the organization
    • e.g. inviolability of the premises and archives
  • representatives of member states
    • e.g. immunity from arrest for speech or acts carried out in their official capacity
  • Secretariat officials
    • e.g. immunity from arrest for speech or acts carried out in their official capacity

The main international instruments related to this topic are:

Because of the specialized and diplomatic nature of the topic, it can be challenging to research privileges and immunities. The usual paths for legal research are limited: there are few cases in courts and limited public records. Scholarly articles on the topic are often the best starting point, but may not provide insights into issues that have not previously arisen.

The following sources, available to researchers at UN headquarters, may be helpful in researching privileges and immunities.

Selected articles, chapters:

  • Reinisch, "Privileges and Immunities" in Klabbers and Wallendahl, Research Handbook on the Law of International Organizations. Northamton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2011, p.132-155.
  • Simma et al., "Article 104", The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary,3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford, 2012, p.2138-2157.

Secondary sources, such as books and articles:

Additional resources:

  • Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law
  • Peace Palace Library catalogue and research guides

Related search terms: claims, compensation, jurisdiction, liability, responsibility, torts


Disclaimer: answers are prepared by library staff using resources available at the time of writing. This site may include links and references to third-party databases, websites, books and articles, this does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.


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