Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2004

Publication Title

Connecticut Journal of International Law


state succession, dissolution, Yugoslavia, foreign sovereigns, Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA)


The law of state succession is one of the most complicated areas of law. Scholars and politicians have seldom reached a consensus on the exact public international law rules in this area. The recent breakup of former Yugoslavia exemplifies some of the difficulties relating to, inter alia, the distinction between dissolution and secession, the allocation of debt and assets among successor states, and more particularly, the resolution of individual disputes among citizens of former Yugoslav republics. The latter issue has been particularly important, as numerous individuals have lost their life savings and immovable property during the internal war that ravaged former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. These individuals are now seeking restitution from successor states. However, the question of liability for former Yugoslavia's republics has not been fully resolved even though individuals may begin bringing their claims to international tribunals.

In order to address this issue, Part I of this article describes the breakup of former Yugoslavia by first addressing general succession issues before concentrating on the more specific questions of property allocation among successor states. Part II presents the recent Supreme Court decision by outlining its holding and its limitations. Finally, Part III discusses the implications of this recent decision on former Yugoslavia's claimholders' prospects of introducing successful FSIA-based claims to American tribunals. Part III ends with a discussion regarding the utility and fairness of allowing more claims against foreign sovereigns, such as the former Yugoslav republics, to be litigated in U.S. courts.