In Jam v. International Finance Corp., the U.S. Supreme Court held that the International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945 (IOIA) affords international organizations (IOs) the same immunity from suit in U.S. courts that foreign governments currently enjoy under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA), which codifies the restrictive theory of foreign sovereign immunity. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) had argued that the IOIA, which grants international organizations the “‘same immunity’ from suit … ‘as is enjoyed by foreign governments’” (p. 15), should be understood to provide international organizations with absolute immunity, which it argued foreign governments enjoyed prior to the United States’ explicit adoption of the restrictive theory in 1952. Under the restrictive theory, a foreign state is immune from suit for its sovereign acts (acta jure imperii), but not for its commercial acts (acta jure gestionis). By interpreting language in the IOIA as granting the “same immunity” to international organizations as foreign governments enjoy at the time the suit is filed, the Supreme Court aligned the regime for IO immunity with that of foreign state immunity, except in cases where the IO's founding charter provides a different rule or where the executive branch has explicitly limited immunity. It remains to be seen what IO activities are deemed “commercial” under this regime and what types of transactions are found to have a sufficient nexus to the United States to fall within the FSIA's commercial-activity exception.
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