Customary International Law

Chiquita Liable for Financing Colombian Paramilitary Death Squads

In a win for international human rights advocacy, a Florida jury has found a U.S. corporation liable for human rights violations committed in a foreign country. This first of three “bellwether” trials involved nine cases. Hundreds remain to be tried in this multidistrict litigation. The jury’s verdict is the latest development in a civil case…

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Throwback Thursday: Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino

Sixty years ago, on March 23, 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino. By a vote of 8-1, the Court held that the act of state doctrine prevented U.S. courts from questioning the validity of Cuba’s expropriations of property owned by U.S. nationals, even if the…

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Second Circuit Hears Halkbank Oral Argument

On February 28, 2024, the Second Circuit heard oral argument in United States v. Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. From the judges’ questions—which admittedly came almost exclusively from Judge Bianco—the panel seems likely to hold that Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, is not immune under federal common law from criminal prosecution for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. That…

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What Does Customary International Law Say About Halkbank’s Immunity?

Tomorrow, the Second Circuit will hear argument in United States v. Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. to consider whether Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank (but not its central bank), is immune from criminal prosecution for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Halkbank claimed immunity under both the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and federal common law. The U.S….

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U.S. Brief in Halkbank Abandons Customary International Law in Immunity Cases

In Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States (Halkbank), the Supreme Court held that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not apply to criminal proceedings. The Court remanded Halkbank’s separate claim of common law immunity to the Second Circuit for reconsideration. On November 20, 2023, after two extensions, the United States filed its brief on remand. The U.S….

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Further Thoughts About Terrorism Exceptions and State Immunity

As regular readers know, Iran has sued Canada at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), arguing that the terrorism exceptions in Canada’s State Immunities Act (SIA) violate customary international law. The United States also has terrorism exceptions in its Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) for actions against state sponsors of terrorism and for actions based on international terrorism in the…

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Governmental and Non-Governmental Acts in Terrorism Exceptions to Sovereign Immunity

The Islamic Republic of Iran (“Iran”) brought proceedings in the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) against Canada on June 27, 2023, alleging that Section 6.1(1) of Canada’s State Immunity Act (SIA), its “terrorism exception,” violates Iran’s sovereign immunities from jurisdiction and enforcement under customary international law. Section 6.1(1) creates an exception to the jurisdictional immunity…

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Why Terrorism Exceptions to State Immunity Do Not Violate International Law

[Editor’s Note: This post also appears at Just Security.] On June 27, 2023, Iran sued Canada at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), arguing that the terrorism exceptions in Canada’s State Immunities Act (SIA) violate customary international law. As Professor Maryam Jamshidi noted at Just Security, it seems that the main target of Iran’s action…

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A Primer on Foreign Sovereign Immunity

The immunity of states from the jurisdiction of foreign domestic courts is a long-standing and mostly uncontroversial principle of customary international law. The International Court of Justice has described foreign sovereign immunity as a procedural doctrine of international law, one that “derives from the principle of sovereign equality of the States.” As a practical matter,…

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Central Bank Immunity, Afghanistan, and Judgments Against the Taliban

International law and U.S. foreign policy provide powerful reasons to require clearer direction from the political branches before ordering the turnover of Afghan central bank assets to U.S. judgment creditors. [This post also appears on Lawfare]. Afghan central bank assets in the United States were frozen by President Biden following the Taliban’s takeover of the…

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Ingrid (Wuerth) Brunk

Vanderbilt Law School
ingrid.wuerth@vanderbilt.eduEmail

William Dodge

UC Davis School of Law
wsdodge@ucdavis.eduEmail

Maggie Gardner

Cornell Law School
mgardner@cornell.eduEmail

John F. Coyle

University of North Carolina School of Law
jfcoyle@email.unc.eduEmail

Zachary D. Clopton

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
zclopton@law.northwestern.eduEmail

Melissa Stewart

Georgetown University Law Center
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Matt Slovin

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Noah Buyon

Duke University School of Law
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Will Moon

University of Maryland
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William K. McGoughran

Vanderbilt Law School
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Chimène Keitner

UC Davis School of Law
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Catherine Amirfar

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
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Justin R. Rassi

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
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Isabelle Glimcher

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
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