The authority of the United Nations Security Council to waive the personal immunity of heads of States in the context of international crimes

In 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted with the aim of ending impunity for perpetrators of international crimes. Under Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute, if the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) refers a situation to the ICC while acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the ICC is entitled to exercise jurisdiction over the territory and nationals of the relevant State that. In some cases, the referred State is neither a party to the Rome Statute nor has consented to its jurisdiction, and implicated senior officials of the state enjoy immunity. In terms of Article 27 of the Rome Statute, immunity does not bar the ICC from exercising jurisdiction. However, customary international law has historically afforded immunity to senior State officials, such as Heads of State, from prosecution. This dichotomy has been a challenge in international criminal law; specifically, the question of balancing the competing objectives of ending impunity for international crimes while maintaining stable relations and respecting the sovereignty of States by respecting customary international law rules on immunity. This challenge has been compounded by the question of the implication of a UNSC referral, of a non-State party to the Rome Statute, to the ICC on the immunity of implicated senior state officials of that State. Accordingly, this study is primarily concerned with whether, and the extent to which, the UNSC can waive the immunity enjoyed by senior state officials of UN Member States, particularly Head of State immunity, when it refers a situation to the ICC using its Chapter VII powers in the UN Charter. Before dealing with the above, the study analyses the concept of immunity, specifically personal immunity, in international law and the obligations of States to respect such immunity, taking into consideration their obligations under the Rome Statute as applicable.
Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of laws by coursework and Research Report at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2019
UCTD, International Criminal Court, International Court of Justice, United Nations Security Council, Waive the Personal Immunity of Heads of States, International Crimes