Award No 590-A15(IV)/A24-FT, 28 December 1998 Iran V US I-US CTR

Iranian claim that the US had breached its obligation, under General Principle B of the General Declaration contained in the Algiers Accords of 19 January 1981, ‘to terminate all legal proceedings in US courts involving claims of US persons and institutions against Iran and its State enterprises … and to bring about the termination of such claims through binding arbitration’ Rather than terminate cases pending before its courts the US acted to suspend them, the suspension to be lifted upon a decision of the Tribunal that it lacked jurisdiction over the claim. The US argued that this was the only practical method available to it and that the linking of the termination of legal proceedings and of claims in General Principle B showed that its approach was reasonable

Tribunal held: the obligation to terminate litigation applied only to cases falling within its own jurisdiction, but that the obligation to terminate cases that did fall within its jurisdiction was not satisfied by mere suspension (95) Unless otherwise agreed by treaty, general international law permits a State to choose the means by which it implements its international obligations within its domestic jurisdiction. Nonetheless a State’s freedom with respect to the choice of the means for implementing an international obligation is not absolute. The means chosen must be adequate to satisfy the State’s international obligation, and they must be lawful. (99) by adopting the suspension mechanisms provided for in Executive Order 12294 the US adhered to its obligations under the Algiers Declarations only if, in effect, the mechanisms resulted in a termination of litigation as required by those Declarations