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Interesting cases within international arbitration
Precedent is crucial in any legal dispute, and no one can understand precedent without a detailed knowledge of legal history. If you're involved in international arbitration, make sure you understand the following key cases:
5. The Thirty Years Truce
Among the earliest polities to pursue arbitration were the ancient Greek city states. In 445 BCE, Athens and Sparta signed the Thirty Years Truce in hopes of ending the Peloponnesian War. One of the truce's provisions was that if Athens and Sparta had any future disputes over their spheres of influence, they would submit those disputes to arbitration. The goal was to discourage war and encourage the use of the international arbitration law firm as an alternative. Although the treaty was unsuccessful, with war breaking out again in only 13 years, it set an important precedent for arbitration in Western law.
4. The Rann of Kutch Case
Border disputes between India and Pakistan are as old as either nation. In one famous 1965 case, arbitration helped the two countries to keep a rising armed conflict from growing out of hand. The Rann of Kutch is a marsh spanning the Indo-Pakistani border. In 1965, India accused Pakistan of illegally stationing troops in the Indian part of the Rann, and began mobilizing its own soldiers in opposition. The Pakistani and Indian armies began firing on each other, starting a conflict that threatened to destabilize the region. Under British pressure, the two countries suspended hostilities and agreed to submit their dispute to the UN for arbitration. After a debate between each country's international law firm, the UN awarded the majority of the land to India but gave Pakistan a small piece to avoid conflict. Because the Rann had little strategic or economic value, both countries accepted this judgment and ceased to dispute that region.
3. The Jay Treaty
One of the first uses of international arbitration in modern history occurred in 1794, when the United States and Britain signed the Jay Treaty. Although Britain had recognized US independence since 1783, the two countries could not agree on which parts of North America belonged to the US and which were in Canada. To avoid another war, the two nations signed the Jay Treaty in 1794, which created a commission to arbitrate the dispute. The commission determined a fair border and mapped it out clearly to prevent future disputes.
2. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The first permanent arbitration clause in modern history was signed between the United States and Mexico at the close of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Although the United States won the war decisively, it nonetheless concluded that future conflict with its southern neighbor would not be ideal. Mexico and the US agreed to let their arbitration firms, rather than their armies, resolve future border disputes.
1. The Alabama Claims
They say all's fair in love and war, but the United States government begs to differ. During the US Civil War, the Confederate government received supplies, munitions, and warships from the British Empire. Britain was officially neutral in the war, but could not resist the high prices offered by the desperate Confederate military. Armed with British-built warships, notably the CSS Alabama, the Confederacy attacked Union shipping, costing their adversaries millions of dollars in property damage and lost profits. When the war ended, the US accused Britain of enabling these attacks and demanded restitution for its losses.
Britain and the United States submitted their dispute to international arbitration. The arbitrators found Britain guilty and ordered it to pay the United States $15.5 million in reparations. Despite being the more powerful country, Britain agreed to pay these damages, hoping to set a precedent in international law against anyone who would attack British shipping.
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