Wednesday, June 6, 2012
For those of you international law professors who teach the Nottebohm case from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) involving the issue of nationality, I have recently published an article that provides a much fuller picture of what happened to Frederich Nottebohm and explores some of the legal implications for today. The article is entitled, “Nottebohm’s Nightmare: Have We Exorcised the Ghosts of WWII Detention Programs or Do They Still Haunt Guantanamo?," and may be found here.
Frederich Nottebohm was a wealthy Guatemalan businessman with German ancestry. During WWII, he was arrested in Guatemala and brought to the United States, where he was detained for the remainder of the war, although there was never any real evidence against him that he was a Nazi sympathizer. After WWII, he persuaded the government of Liechtenstein, where he now held nationality, to pursue a case against Guatemala at the ICJ for confiscating virtually all his property and refusing to allow him to return to Guatemala. His case was unsuccessful, but the ICJ’s decision has been much criticized over the years. Most of the past scholarship relating to the Nottebohm case explores the Court’s concept of nationality. My article focuses instead on whether Nottebohm’s arrest and detention were legal at the time, or whether they would be today, and draws some parallels to the arrest and detention of foreign nationals accused of terrorist activities being held at Guantanamo Bay today.