Professor Stefan Talmon joined eight other eminent international law experts in submitting an amicus curiae brief to the US Supreme Court on questions of State immunity and genocide.
The case concerns the question of whether the (then) State of Prussia’s acquisition, in 1935, of parts of the Guelph Treasure or “Welfenschatz” (currently valued at some US$ 250 million) is covered by the so-called “expropriation exception” of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. The exception requires a “taking” that occurs “in violation of international law”. The Court will have to decide whether the expropriation exception covers conduct that took place outside of the United States (in Germany) and between nationals of a foreign State (Germany). The Court will also have to address the question of whether international law recognises an exception to State immunity for international crimes like genocide or other grave breaches of international law. Finally, the Court will have to decide whether the 1935 purchase of the Welfenschatz constituted an act of genocide.