Rainbow Warrior (New Zealand v. France)
France-New Zealand Arbitration Tribunal
82 I.L.R. 500, 551-64 (1990)
Greenpeace International, a civilian organization, owned the Rainbow Warrior, a ship, and kept it docked at Auckland Harbor, New Zealand (plaintiff). While the ship was moored in New Zealand, several agents of France (defendant) destroyed the ship through explosive devices. Two French agents were captured by New Zealand after the incident. France and New Zealand entered a serious disagreement, as France sought extradition of the two agents, and New Zealand sought reparation for the incident. The two States were unable to reach a settlement, and submitted their disagreement to the United Nations Secretary General for binding arbitration. The Secretary General issued a ruling in 1986 which required France to pay reparations of $7 million and to stop interfering with New Zealand’s international trade affairs. The Secretary General also required the transfer of the two French agents to a French military facility for a three-year period. The two agents were prohibited from leaving the facility for any reason, except with the consent of the two governments. France and New Zealand formalized their acceptance of the Secretary General’s ruling by exchanging a series of letters known as the 1986 Agreement. Five months after the agreement, France requested permission to transfer one of the agents to an off-site hospital for urgent care. In the process of conducting negotiations with New Zealand, France unilaterally completed the transfer. New Zealand objected to this act, and sent its own physician to examine the agent. The physician disagreed with the emergency evacuation, but agreed that the agent required medical procedures unavailable at the military facility. Once the agent was successfully treated, the New Zealand physician recommended he be transferred back to the military facility. However, France released him as “repatriated for health reasons.” A similar situation occurred with the other agent, as when her father was sick and dying, France requested to transfer her for “humanitarian reasons” but unilaterally made the transfer during negotiations with New Zealand. New Zealand and France submitted their dispute again to an arbitral tribunal. New Zealand demanded a declaration that France had breached its obligations by unilaterally transferring the agents without New Zealand’s consent, and an order that France be required to return the two agents to the military facility. France denied international responsibility on the grounds of force majeure and distress.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 170,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.