Immunity is freedom from liability, and as such, it can quite literally provide a “get out of jail free” card. In the United States, international organizations face uncertainty about the scope of their immunity, which is provided by the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA). The D.C. Circuit has found that international organizations enjoy absolute immunity under the IOIA. Conversely, the Third Circuit recently held that international organizations are only entitled to restrictive immunity, which limits immunity to claims involving an organization’s public acts and does not exempt them from suits based on their commercial or private conduct.
This Note contends that a plain reading of the IOIA, combined with a full understanding of the history and legislative purpose behind the immunity of international organizations, presents a third interpretation. It concludes that the IOIA requires judicial deference to immunity determinations by the executive branch, which provides the flexibility necessary to allow international organizations to operate without undue interference.