Leuven Global Governance series
Edited by Geert De Baere and Jan Wouters
Chapter 10: The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal and its contribution to international law
The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal (IUSCT or the Tribunal) is one of the oldest international tribunals in The Hague. The Tribunal was established in 1981, as one of the measures to resolve the 1979 crisis between Iran and the US. To fully understand the circumstances that brought about its creation, however, it is necessary to go back in time to the 1950s. Before embarking on a short historical journey, it is important to mention the geopolitical context. Iran’s geographic position south of the Soviet Union, the presence of spread of communism and its oil reserves, made Iran strategically, politically and economically important. Following the Second World War, Iran had close links with the West, in particular with Great Britain. Iran’s oil industry was controlled by the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) and the British had significant influence over Iran’s internal affairs. In 1953, following the 1951 nationalization of Iran’s oil industry and a series of unsuccessful attempts to find an agreement between Iran and the United Kingdom (UK) on a new oil agreement or on the kind of compensation the UK would be entitled to, the Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown in a coup d’état orchestrated by the UK and the United States (US), in collaboration with Mosaddegh’s domestic opponents. Mohammad Reza Shah himself supported the coup and, after a brief exile in Italy, he returned to power until he was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
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