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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Expropriation and U.S. Assistance


Espousal of Property Restitution Cases

The Department of State is concerned with any case in which a U.S. citizen has had his or her property expropriated by a foreign government. Under international law, however, the United States Government may only consider espousing (i.e. formally presenting) a claim to a foreign government if a claimant satisfies three prerequisites.

First, the claim must have been held by a U.S. citizen at the time the claim arose and continuously thereafter until the date of presentation, and through to settlement. Second, the acts giving rise to the claim must constitute a violation of international law that is attributable to the foreign government. Finally, the claimant must exhaust local remedies in the relevant country, or demonstrate that doing so would be futile.


In order for the Department to consider taking action on a request for espousal, the claimant must provide sufficient evidence to establish that the claim meets these prerequisites. All evidence should be submitted in English.

Once these minimum requirements are satisfied, the final decision whether to espouse a claim on behalf of the United States Government is vested wholly in the discretion of the Secretary of State. The decision on whether or not to espouse may be based not only upon the merits of the claim itself under international law, but also upon the foreign policy and other national interests that pursuit of the claim may affect.


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