Foreign Policy Interest of the United States

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Foreign Policy Interest of the United States

Dismissal of the Claims Against Erste Bank Group ag and Mkb Bank in This Action Would be in the Foreign Policy Interest of the United States in 2011

United States views on international law (based on the document “Digest of U.S. Practice in International Law”): The German Foundation and the GSF are examples of the successful implementation of the United States Government's policy goal to obtain some measure of justice for the victims of the Holocaust within their remaining lifetimes. The United States believes that the best means to accomplish this goal is through dialogue, negotiation, and cooperation between concerned parties, foreign governments, and non-governmental organizations, rather than litigation. Although the agreements setting up the German Foundation and the GSF are not claims settlement agreements, they are nonetheless aimed at achieving legal closure for German and Austrian companies with respect to claims arising out of World War II and the Nazi era, and to facilitate the agreements, the United States agreed to support the goal of legal closure for German and Austrian companies by filing Statements of Interest in cases where claims are brought against a German or Austrian company setting forth the significant United States foreign policy interests favoring dismissal of the claims.…

To that end, the Austrian Government and Austrian companies insisted that, as a precondition to the GSF making payments to any victims, all pending litigation in the United States involving such claims against Austrian companies would first have to be dismissed. The German Government and German companies likewise insisted in the dismissal of all pending litigation in the United States in which Nazi era and World War II claims were asserted against German companies as a precondition to allowing the German Foundation to make payments to victims.

Developments

There are at least four reasons why, at the time of the respective creations of the German Foundation and GSF, the President of the United States concluded that it would be in the United States' foreign policy interests for the funds to be the exclusive forum and remedy for all Nazi-era property claims against German and Austrian companies. These United States foreign policy interests continue to favor dismissal of Nazi-era property claims against German and Austrian companies such as Erste Group and MKB Bank.

Details

First, it is an important policy objective of the United States to bring some measure of justice to Holocaust survivors and other victims of the Nazi era (who are elderly and are dying at an accelerated rate) in their lifetimes. As noted earlier, the United States believes the best way to accomplish this goal is through negotiation and cooperation. The GSF, the Reconciliation Fund, and the German Foundation exemplify how such cooperation can lead to a positive result. The GSF and German Foundation provided benefits to more victims, and did so faster and with less uncertainty than litigation would have. They employed more relaxed standards of proof than those applied in litigation, and afforded access to those with Nazi-era property claims against existing and defunct companies. But such comprehensive relief was only possible because of the expectation that those who participated in funding the GSF and the German Foundation would receive legal closure in exchange.

More about the Issue

Indeed, although the agreements at issue were not “settlements” in name, the Austrian and German governments and Austrian and German companies insisted on dismissal of then-pending Nazi-era claims against them as a precondition to allowing the GSF and the German Fund to make payments to victims. It is in the enduring and high interest of the United States to vindicate these fora by supporting efforts to achieve dismissal of (i.e., legal closure for) Nazi-era claims against German and Austrian companies.

Second, establishment of the GSF and the German Fund served to strengthen the ties between the United States and the U.S. democratic allies and trading partners, Austria and Germany. One of the most important reasons the United States took such an active role in facilitating a resolution of the issues raised in this litigation is that it was asked by the German and Austrian Governments to work as a partner in helping to make the German Foundation, the Reconciliation Fund, and the GSF initiatives successful. Since 1945, the United States has sought to work with Austria and Germany to address the consequences of the Nazi era and World War II through political and governmental acts, beginning with the first compensation and restitution laws in post-war Austria that were passed during the Allied occupation. In recent years, Austrian-American and German-American cooperation on these and other issues has continued, and the joint efforts to develop the German Foundation, the Reconciliation Fund, and the GSF have helped solidify these close relationships.

Resources

See Also

  • International Claims
  • State Responsability
  • Nazi Era Claims
  • Holocaust
  • Victims

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