Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal: A Review - Part 7 Chapter 5 - The Practice of International Litigation - 2nd Edition
Lawrence W. Newman has been a partner in the New York office of Baker & McKenzie since 1971, when, together with the late Professor Henry deVries, he founded the litigation department in that office. He is the author/editor of 4 works on international litigation/arbitration.
Michael Burrows, Formerly, Of Counsel, Baker & McKenzie, New York.
On July 1, 1981, the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal had its first meeting at The Hague in the Netherlands. Over the intervening years literally thousands of cases have passed before this nine-person adjudicatory tribunal, the work of which remains, however, unfinished. As persons who have had many of the cases before this tribunal, and indeed continue to have cases before it, we offer herewith some observations on its developments and accomplishments.
The Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal was created by international executive agreements between the governments of the United States and Iran (through the mediation of the government of Algeria) by which the persons who had been kept hostage in the United States embassy in Tehran were released, on January 20, 1981, after 444 days of captivity. Whatever role it may ultimately be determined that the Reagan presidential campaign and its head William Casey, who went on to become director of the CIA during Reagan’s presidency, played in the timing of the hostages’ release, it is clear that assets of Iran frozen by President Carter on November 14, 1989, shortly following the takeover of the Tehran embassy, played a crucial role in achieving the release of the hostages. Under the executive agreements (which became known as the Algiers Accords because of their execution in that city) billions of dollars in Iranian bank accounts and other assets were immediately returned to Iran, with the exception of two “dollar accounts,” one of which, in the amount of some $1.4 billion, was set aside in England for the repayment of debts owed to American banks and the other was to be put into a Security
Account for payment of claims against the government of Iran by American companies and individuals other than banks.