Thursday, 29 September 2016

US terrified of breaching of State Immunity convention

Obama's failed veto of a bill that will make changes to the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and allow legal action for non-commercial matters in US courts against the Saudi government was founded in self-interest, not from sympathetic concern with the KSA. With oil supplies no longer dependent on the KSA and gulf states, the US is no longer committed to backing the KSA - and indeed this is the root of the thaw in relations with Shia Iran.

State Immunity (wrongly termed Sovereign immunity by several papers today - Sovereign immunity refers to the immunity of the state from legal action by its own citizens) is highly complex and the subject of both UN and European conventions. The UK is a signatory with several other European states to the 1972 European Convention on State Immunity - not including Italy. Legal action by Italian citizens seeking damages from Germany for war actions was blocked by the International Court. 

The thing about State Immunity is that it protects the unofficial acts of nations and their citizens much given to meddling in the affairs of other States, and has little effect on States that keep themselves to themselves. So just as the KSA becomes legally liable in damages for the actions of its sheikhs in funding and sponsoring Sunni terrorism, so the US becomes liable for the actions of Blackwater, Air America and other quasi detached parts of the US global policeman role. Or the US imperialist warmonger role. Take your pick. It also, through the actions of the CIA and other covert State agencies, puts the US directly in the dock, for example for damages for unlawful rendition, torture, economic sabotage and so on. 

Switzerland has little to fear from the ending of State immunity conventions. The UK is somewhere between the US and Switzerland. 

All of this would be irrelevant except that at a time of global investment, a successful lawsuit gives a right to seize the assets of the defendant nation in the country of action for the actions of those deemed vicarious servants or agents. Thus Saudi assets in the US can be seized if the suit of the 9/11 plaintiffs succeeds. Or US assets in the UK can be seized if a suit by British claimants succeeds. 

The effect will be a fire blanket on global State investment - by sovereign wealth funds and the like. In allowing action against the KSA - well deserved, I have no doubt - Congress has opened a can of worms with which the world would rather not deal at this juncture.


Poisonedchalice said...

A can of worms indeed. No wonder KSA has got away with state-funded terrorism for so long. But this has been a long game with many facets. The fact that the US is no longer dependent on foreign powers for energy will have many far reaching consequences, not just state immunity reasons. The OPEC countries have much to fear because home produced energy puts the US in a very competitive position on the worlds industrial stage; see for example "re-shoring"; the coming home of industries that had once moved to China. And now we have the first shipment of shale gas into Grangemouth; a move that the US said they would never make - less dependency on the EU, who in turn is partly dependent on Russia.

When you see the benefits of home produced energy (and Britain is hydrocarbons central) you can easily see the industrial and political leverage it has.

Bring it on!

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

So it night be Xmas came early for Phil Shiner and PIL?

Anonymous said...

Although I am usually on the side of the USA, haven't they being doing this for a long time - fining banks, fining BP eyc, for billions, while US companies are immune?

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

anon @ 09:48

you're not supposed to notice that... Bhopal etcetera....

Wildgoose said...

Or how about the recent example of Argentina?

From memory, Argentina got an agreement with a majority of the creditors for a partial write-down of some debts owed.

A US vulture fund bought some of these written-down debts and then sued (in US Courts) for the original amounts.

Which, naturally, they won.

The problem being that Argentina could hardy pay the agreed written-down debt values to all the other creditors but full price to the US creditors, which in turn meant they were forced into default.

Default on your debts and you get charged higher rates, so lots of knock-on problems.

Thanks to their intransigence and aggression towards British Citizens in the Falklands I am not normally predisposed to sympathise with Argentina. I did in this case though.

So, returning to the original subject, why should the KSA get a free pass for its murderous support of Wahabi terrorism?

Anonymous said...

"why should the KSA get a free pass for its murderous support of Wahabi terrorism?"

Why indeed.

Indeed, why should the UK authorities grant a free pass for Wahhabi Theocrats and advocates; those terrorist cultists to build Mosques across England and with the sole purpose of colonizing this country, a nation steeped and founded in the Christian tradition?

Anonymous said...

Raedwald said:

'The thing about State Immunity is that it protects the unofficial acts of nations and their citizens much given to meddling in the affairs of other States..'

You mean like the War on Terror?

Americans are on our side’: Al-Nusra commander says US arming jihadists via third countries


anon 2 said...

Re Anon @15:47 ____ See that? I'm not entirely wrong to adopt a "Frenememy" meme vis-a-vis yanks!

In fact, I'm not the first to trace much of our latter-day situation back to Yalta. I understand many of my father's contemporaries shared the view that, short of giving us away down the river, Churchill did the best he could for us while contending with Stalin and Roosevelt.

Raedwald said...

I must say I like the idea of allowing loathsome lawyer Phil Shiner to continue in practice so long as his repugnant activity is directed solely at the Septics ...