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The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal: What Lies Ahead?

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The Iran-United States Tribunal has recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Although it has resolved all of the cases brought by private claimants, it is still likely to be many more years before the Tribunal is able to complete the remaining government-to-government cases on its docket. There are multiple reasons why so much time will be required: the pending cases are extremely complex, the governments brief them slowly, and the Tribunal's decision-making process itself is slow. There does not for the foreseeable future appear to be an alternative to continued litigation, because the prospects of a global settlement of the remaining claims before the Tribunal are remote. The parties face challenges in developing reasonable assessments of the legal and economic costs and benefits of settlement. Beyond this, the strained political relations between the United States and Iran would make even a legally and economically rationale settlement extremely difficult to achieve. The challenge facing the Tribunal in the remaining years of its existence, in which the Iran and United States are the only parties before it, is to continue to decide cases in a principled fashion on the basis of the law and the facts, and to resist the temptation to reach compromise decisions in the interests of political expediency.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of the Practice of International Law and Diplomacy and Associate Professor (Teaching) of Law, Stanford Law School and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University


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