On October 31, 2018, the Supreme Court heard argument in Jam v. International Finance Corporation, a case involving the scope of the International Organizations Immunities Act.
The International Finance Group (IFC) is an international organization which provides loans to projects in developing countries that do not have the necessary private capital for projects. Under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), the IFC is an organization designated to “enjoy the same immunity from suit … as is enjoyed by foreign governments, except to the extent that such organizations may expressly waive their immunity for the purpose of any proceedings or by the terms of any contract.” The IFC funded the construction of the Tata Mundra Power Plant in Gujarat, India, with a proviso that the plant had to follow an Environmental and Social Action Plan to protect the surrounding community; failure to follow the Plan would result in a loss of financial support. The power plant did not follow the Plan, but the IFC did not revoke funding. Members of the surrounding community sued the IFC in district court, claiming that the IFC is responsible for their injuries because it continued funding the project despite the plant’s clear failure to follow the Environmental and Social Action Plan. The district court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the IFC was immune from suit. The petitioners appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, which agreed with the district court.
The US Supreme Court then granted certiorari to address whether the International Organizations Immunities Act—which affords international organizations the “same immunity” from suit that foreign governments have, 22 U.S.C. § 288a(b)—confers the same immunity on such organizations as foreign governments have under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1602-11.
To the discuss the case, we have Mike Ramsey, Professor of Law at University of San Diego School of Law.