Skip to comments.Contract Dispute With United Nations Could Lead to End of Diplomatic Immunity
Posted on 05/24/2011 1:38:45 PM PDT by markomalley
A federal judge in New York has issued an order that could lift the U.N.s long-recognized diplomatic immunity in the United States involving contract disputes, opening the doors for claims of hundreds of millions of dollars against the world body, according to lawyers involved in the case.
Following a ruling by Judge P. Kevin Castel, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times on Wednesday will publish legal notices on behalf of Kahraman Sadikoglu, a Turkish billionaire businessman who is suing the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) for $150 million.
The notices are a legal substitute for the process of officially serving the lawsuit to U.N. officials, who have refused to accept the authority of U.S. courts in this and other legal matters.
Sadikoglu was hired by the UNDP to clear the Iraqi harbor of Um Qasr, Iraqs largest port in 2003, so that supplies could be delivered to the war-shattered nation. He has fought since that time to be paid for the work, and according to his lawyers is suing now because the U.N. failed to honor the terms of a 2008 agreement that would have settled the matter.
But when they learned that money would come from their own funds, according to George G. Irving, Sadikoglus attorney at the time, they just ignored him. Most of the reconstruction funds had either come from American or Iraqi coffers.
According to Irving, who once worked in the Legal Affairs Office of the U.N. Secretary General, it could open up the floodgates for hundreds of similar lawsuits.
It is not unusual for the U.N. to play these kinds of games with contractors. They try to frustrate them at every turn so they give up and go away, he said....
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
The easiest solution, though, to preserve the diplomatic immunity of the UN would be to relocate them to Switzerland. And then for the US to resign.
Diplomatic Immunity.....laws are for thee but not for me....
Suing the UN and winning is like suing the cops.
Even if you win, taxpayers get screwed.
Just kick out the UN and have them move HQ to Haiti.
“The easiest solution, though, to preserve the diplomatic immunity of the UN would be to relocate them to Switzerland. And then for the US to resign.”
Nobody should have diplomatic immunity. When we peons travel to foreign countries we are expected to obey the local laws and we get punished for breaking them. Why should foriegn diplomats enjoy such a broad exemption?
I totally agree that the UN and UN bureaucrats are disgusting, but I’m betting that the intelligence information we get from that operation outweighs the negatives.
I have nothing to base this upon but common sense.
Sadikoglus story was one of the rare cases of early reconstruction in Iraq actually working. Originally hired by Saddam Hussein to clear Um Qasr of wreckage from the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, Sadikoglus work was suspended because of U.N. sanctions against Saddam and other problems. But he was asked to continue with the project by UNDP after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq forced Saddam from power.
The project was massive. Nineteen sunken ships had to be cleared from the harbor, cut up and sold for salvage. Sadikoglu brought in nine of his own ships to house the recovery crews and perform the work. Despite the chaos and terror of the early years of the invasion, Sadikoglu was able to raise the ships and open the harbor.
Officials from the Coalition Provisional Authority, who had oversight of the port at the time, said Sadikoglu not only completed the work on time, but managed to meet the changing demands of the UNDP as the work progressed. They, too, said they cannot understand why he was never paid.
It has more to do with diplomatic staff and such. You don’t want an embassy worker get jailed for being the wrong religion (as they could be in some coutries).
“Nobody should have diplomatic immunity.”
But in this case it isn’t a diplomat that is claiming immunity from criminal laws of a foreign country, it is an international agency that is claiming that it doesn’t have to pay its bills, which is absolutely outrageous.
Diplomatic immunity is not all that different than Article I, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution, which protects members of Congress from arrest while traveling to and from a Congressional session.
It is diplomats, i.e. people, who get diplomatic immunity, not agencies.
The issue is whether UNDP is entitled to sovereign immunity. Generally, governments aren't immune from suits when they enter into private, commercial contracts.
So, this suit would not appear to have the effect of changing the law.
I think it's a little more complicated than that, and in one respect I'm on the side of the U.N. in this case. The question comes down to this: What court actually has jurisdiction in a situation like this? If the facts of the case are as described in this article, then I fail to see how the U.S. court system has any jurisdiction in the matter. This should be adjudicated in an Iraqi court or an international legal body (the World Court?). It appears that neither the U.S. government nor a U.S. citizen or company was ever a party to this guy's contract, so I fail to see what role a U.S. court should play here other than as a place with the best odds for the plaintiff before a sympathetic judge/jury.
>>I fail to see what role a U.S. court should play here <<
The UN is headquartered in the US. Obey our laws or get out.
If the contract was signed in New York, by a UN agency with its main office in New York, I would think that the counterparty could file suit in New York (unless the contract had a Choice of Law or Choice of Venue provision that said otherwise).
But if this guy is suing under the Alien Tort Relief Act or some other law that has been illegaly interpreted to have long-arm application (so as to cover torts commited in a foreign country by one foreigner against a second foreigner), then I agree with you.
HA! Good! Most of them have enough scofflaw parking violations alone to lock them away for a decade or two...
Here is what I hope happens:
*Sadikoglu wins a judgment for full payment plus penalties and interest against the UN.
*When the UN fails to pay, he enforces his judgment and forces the liquidation of the UN, causing the property and furniture to be sold off to the highest bidder(s).
*A Republican House and Senate pass legislation freezing all further payment to the UN for its gross malfeasance, and cancelling our membership.
*President Cain eagerly signs the legislation at a ceremony in front of the former UN headuarters, at which he gives a speech touting our renewed commitment to preserving American national sovereignty, and expounding on the evils of giving up national sovereignty to a world government.
“I, for one, would never agree to serve in a U.S. embassy in any country (particularly one without Western values) unless I knew that they couldnt throw me in jail for 30 years for eating a cheeseburger or insulting the Prophet or something.”
An understandable sentiment. I think it is time we were frank about this and close down embassies anyplace where those things could happen to an ambassador.
The more I think about this, the more ridiculous it becomes to me. This plaintiff is filing a lawsuit in U.S. Federal court over a legal dispute related to a contract he signed more than ten years ago in another country . . . and the payments he was supposed to receive were probably denominated in Iraqi dinars, not U.S. dollars. How the hell would a U.S. court even know how to award damages in a case like that?
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