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Distant Genocides


Pierre N. Leval

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I am deeply honored to be invited to deliver the Leslie H. Arps Memorial Lecture. I never met Les Arps, but I understand we had a kinship of trial by fire. We both worked as young lawyers for the great, and not easily pleased, Henry Friendly. By all that I have heard, Les Arps was an extraordinary lawyer, a distinguished public servant, a mensch. And what a spectacular achievement to have been one of the progenitors of the great Skadden Arps firm. I will speak on two subjects. The first does not exist. The second may be about to disappear. This may therefore be the most useless talk of all time. Both of my subjects concern a private, civil suit by which a plaintiff seeks redress for atrocities in violation of the law of nations committed in another nation-a nation where the plaintiff cannot get justice because the abusing regime remains in power. By a private, civil suit, I mean a suit that seeks only a private, civil remedy, such as money damages in compensation for personal injury, and does not seek imprisonment, fine, or any sort of criminal punishment.

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