Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Vatican or the Holy See ? Which has Personality in International Law ? Is the Vatican a State ?

Giovanni Antonio Dosio 1533 - ca. 1609
The Construction of the Belvedere Courtyard in the Vatican Palace
Biblioteca Vaticana, Rome

At the moment in the United Kingdom, there is some talk about whether the Pope could be prosecuted when he comes to the United Kingdom and whether the position of the Vatican at the United Nations and other international organisations be reviewed or even withdrawn.

There is growing campaign that the Holy See represents a religion and not a country and should therefore not be a Non-Member State Maintaining Permanent Observer Mission at U.N. Headquarters. According to this campaign, which started in 1999, the status of the Holy See at the United Nations should be reduced to the status of a non-governmental organization

Often there are references in newspapers and articles to the Vatican as an entity in international law.

Kurt Martens is Assistant Professor, School of Canon Law, The Catholic University of America

He has produced this erudite and scholarly article on the legal status of the Vatican and the Holy See.

It can be found in the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Review by following the following link: Kurt Martens: The Position of the Holy See and Vatican City State in International Relations 83 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 729

It is an excellent vade mecum if one is looking at an article which states that either the Holy See or the Vatican does not fulfil the criteria under the Montevideo Convention 1933 for being considered in law a State in international law, or more importantly whether it should have sovereign immunity when being sued in the Courts of a State.

The Lateran Pacts of 1929 and the amendments in the 1985 are set out at this link.