Iran–United States Claims Tribunal
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The Iran–United States Claims Tribunal (IUSCT) is an international arbitral tribunal established pursuant to the Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981, an agreement between the United States and Iran mediated by Algeria to resolve the hostage crisis. In exchange for the release of the hostages seized by Iranian students on November 4, 1979, the United States agreed to terminate litigation against Iran in U.S. courts and to release Iranian assets frozen by the Carter Administration. Many of the frozen assets had been attached by U.S. claimants pursuant to Treasury license. The U.S. claims agreement with Iran provided an alternative remedy backed by a billion dollar escrow account for U.S. nationals with contract and expropriation claims against Iran.
President Reagan confirmed the Algiers Accords, and the constitutionality of these arrangements was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dames & Moore v. Regan,453 U.S. 654(1981).
U.S. officials who participated in the Iran Hostage Crisis (1979-1981) have discussed that diplomacy and the Algiers Accords in American Hostages In Iran: The Conduct of a Crisis (Yale 1985) and in Revolutionary Days: The Iran Hostage Crisis and the Hague Claims Tribunal, A Look Back (Juris 1996). See also Symposium on the Settlement with Iran, March 6-7, 1981, Lawyer of the Americas, U Miami J. Int’l Law (Special Issue, Spring 1981).
The seat of the Tribunal is The Hague. It held its first meeting in the Peace Palace on July 1, 1981; in April 1982, it moved to its own premises in The Hague. The Tribunal is composed of nine arbitrators: three appointed by Iran, three appointed by the United States, and a further three (neither Iranian nor United States nationals) appointed by the previous six arbitrators. The Tribunal hears individual cases in the formation of three-member chambers (consisting of one Iranian, one American, and one from the three appointed by the other six); it meets as a full tribunal to consider disputes between the two governments, and cases referred from the chambers.
The Tribunal closed to new claims by private individuals on January 19, 1982. In total, it received approximately 4,700 private US claims. The Tribunal has ordered payments by Iran to US nationals totaling over USD 2.5 billion. Almost all private claims have now been resolved; but several intergovernmental claims are still before the Tribunal.