THE STATUS AND POSITION OF THE VATICAN AND THE POPE AT INTERNATIONAL LAW: TRYING TO FIT A RELIGIOUS SQUARE PEG INTO A LEGAL CIRCLE?
Keywords:Vatican, relationship with the Holy See, requirements for statehood, sovereign immunity
The final word has not been spoken on the position and status of the Vatican; nor have the intricacies and complexities of its relationship with the Holy See been exhaustively ventilated. In the present writer’s view, the debate as to whether the Vatican, or the Holy See, meets the requirements for statehood will rage on into the future. However, this article does not pretend to be definitive. It merely seeks to demonstrate how international-law concepts and phenomena are being stretched (sometimes beyond their limit) in order to accommodate the Vatican. The Vatican does not meet the minimum requirements for statehood; but it continues to be accorded, by the community of nations, the kind of recognition that more deserving entities such as Taiwan, the Palestine and Somaliland are being denied. Its officials and functionaries enjoy sovereign immunity in the courts of fully-fledged nation states which those of the aforementioned nascent states do not enjoy.
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