02 April 2011

Cardozo Law School follow-up—last question of the day

The last panel addressed the way in which the Foreign Soverign Immunity Act (FSIA) is invoked to file claims on behalf of aggrieved individuals against a sovereign nation.  In this case, it was Iran....

The conversation between the lawyers—plaintiffs' lawyers, one lawyer representing Iran, and a deputy legal adviser at the Department of State—got mired in legal technicalities over Iran, terrorism, assets to attach in the US or abroad to satisfy claims.  In short, the word 'culture' had virtually disappeared from the vocabulary of the speakers at the end of a symposium about .... culture.

I asked them to return to issues pertaining to culture since, for the life of me, I could not comprehend what they were arguing about.  And I urged them to think aloud about how to apply their erudite knowledge about the FSIA and their experience filing claims against foreign nations to the question of looted art.

The answer came from the two plaintiffs' attorneys on the panel.  Their remarks were unequivocal: the issue of looted art ultimately does not belong in the courts.  It is a political problem that requires political solutions.