Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is DSK's Teflon Still Intact?

Besides (1) Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee surprising no one by announcing that they would not be running for president, and (2) the 10,000th season finale of Survivor, the big news over the weekend was the arrest of the managing director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, better known by his initials DSK and by the nickname the "Great Seducer." DSK, who was expected to be the leading socialist candidate for president in France next year, was nabbed on board a plane in New York, moments before his flight departed for Paris, for his alleged sexual assault of a chambermaid in a $3,000 per night hotel room at the Sofitel in midtown Manhattan. As I'm sure some of you are aware, DSK was interviewed by the NYPD's Special Victims Unit, no doubt by our favorite Law & Order SVU detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson.

Thus far, DSK has been charged with attempted rape, two counts of a criminal sexual act, two counts of sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. He hasn't entered a plea yet but is expected to plead not guilty. The judge also agreed with prosecutors that he's a flight risk and denied DSK bail.

One question that popped into my mind was whether DSK is entitled to diplomatic immunity, as the IMF is technically a UN agency and its managing director is an international diplomat. After doing some research, I discovered that the answer is not as clear as expected. According to Article IX, Section 8 of the the IMF's Articles of Agreement, certain IMF officials (including the managing director) are entitled to diplomatic immunity "with respect to acts performed by them in their official capacity except when the Fund waives this immunity."

Other than chasing after the hotel maid, it's unclear what the purpose was of DSK's trip to New York. If he were in the United States on official business, his lawyers could argue that the Articles of Agreement are not limited solely to actions taken in the specific pursuit of IMF responsibilities and that they apply to all actions taken while on official business. To explain by way of illustration: Under a broader interpretation of the Articles of Agreement, DSK would be entitled to immunity if he received a ticket for illegally parking while he ran into a drug store to buy chewing gum for himself while in the country for official business. Under a more narrow view of the Articles, he'd only be entitled to immunity if he committed a legal violation while carrying out his actual duties, like if he were to give a fraudulent check to an IMF loan recipient.

If DSK decides to invoke diplomatic immunity, the IMF can waive it at its discretion. This decision is largely a political calculation and could put the IMF in a tight spot since it has to cater to a very diverse group of constituents. From the American point of view, the calculus clearly weighs in favor of waiving immunity for DSK, given the serious nature of his alleged crime. On the other hand, the French might not be so quick to leave DSK in the hands of American prosecutors. (Besides the fact that DSK is a French citizen, the French position is important because western Europeans have traditionally been placed at the helm of the IMF, even though the agency's headquarters are in the United States. In fact, four of the last eleven IMF bosses have been from France). The French generally are more willing to sweep politicians' sexual infidelities under the rug, and even if France's leaders want DSK prosecuted for sexual crimes, the French might not agree with the way in which the United States is going about bringing him to trial. Lastly, the IMF as an institution has to weigh the pros and cons of waiving DSK's diplomatic immunity. On the one hand, if it chooses to allow DSK to invoke his immunity, the institution could face an onslaught of global criticism for being light on crime and particularly on women's rights. On the other hand, waiving DSK's immunity could cause internal strife within the agency if IMF officials fear that the agency's executive board no longer has officials' backs when they're exposed to foreign countries' legal systems.

At this point DSK has not invoked immunity, but I think that if diplomatic immunity becomes an issue, the IMF should either waive it outright or agree to uphold it on the sole condition that DSK be sent to France to face trial for allegations that are coming out now that he's engaged in this kind of criminal behavior against women on previous occasions. Given DSK's nickname, it should perhaps come as no surprise that he has a history of assaulting women. In the past, the metaphorical Teflon surrounding DSK's image has prevented these incidents from damaging his political ambitions. Whether or not DSK gets diplomatic immunity in the present case however, that Teflon is looking at best like thin plastic wrap, and his political career for the time being is over.


At 5/28/2011 1:34 AM, Anonymous Camper Trailer Hire said...

This is a great thing

At 5/31/2011 8:29 AM, Anonymous panel çit said...

very nice blogging

At 1/20/2012 3:19 PM, Anonymous arkadaş said...

thank you very nice


Post a Comment

<< Home