Accountability and World Leadership: Impugning Sovereign Immunity
Michael P. Davis   |   1999 U. Ill. L. Rev.

The arrest of General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, Chile's former military dictator, shocked the international community. Pinochet, in Great Britain on a diplomatic passport, was detained pursuant to a Spanish extradition warrant in an attempt to force the former head of state to answer for the atrocities that occurred in Chile during his reign. While Pinochet awaits his seemingly inevitable extradition to Spain, the world is left to consider whether the principles of immu-nity-the framework for centuries of international diplomatic rela-tions-are still intact. This note makes use of the events surrounding Pinochet's arrest to consider the evolution of the immunity given to foreign diplomats and heads of state. Although the author specifically addresses potential courses of action to deal with Pinochet's current situation and the consequences and implications of these various ap-proaches, he also discusses more general issues of leadership, ac-countability, and international relations. More pointedly, the author examines the most appropriate and effective means by which the international community should handle leaders like Pinochet, concluding that a centralized global enforce-ment mechanism is the best approach. The author acknowledges the tension that will seemingly always accompany any legal action an-other nation or a group of nations takes against a head of state. He notes, however, that this discussion is necessary because the continued interconnectedness of the global economy and the ever-growing rec-ognition of human rights will lead to a more uniform intolerance for actions like those Pinochet demonstrated.
* The author would like to dedicate this note, in loving memory, to Kimberly J. Suddendorf. Eventus stultorum magister.