Rarely has a move by the U.S. government to impose its political views on other countries' economies aroused as much anger as has the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996, widely known as the Helms-Burton Act. President Clinton originally opposed the Act, but signed it into law in March 1996, following the downing by the Cuban Air Force of two light planes flown by members of an anti-Castro organization based in the United States.
The United States is substantially in arrears in its payment of amounts the United Nations General Assembly has assessed against it for the UN regular budget and for UN peacekeeping. The question arises whether there are any legal consequences for a failure to pay such assessments.
The UN Charter contains a single sanction for failure to pay assessed dues. Article 19 provides:
NATO is preparing to interdict deliveries by sea of refined oil bound for Yugoslavia, as a means of ensuring that NATO's bombing of Serbian oil refineries will not be neutralized by the supply of refined oil from other sources. France and Italy have raised a question whether such interdiction at sea would violate international law.
When the Yugoslav government refused to sign the American-drafted peace accord for Kosovo, and after repeated warnings to Yugoslavia, NATO forces have begun an aerial bombing campaign against Yugoslav military targets. The question arises whether international law permits the use of armed force against Yugoslavia under these circumstances.
According to news reports, Robert Mugabe, the head of state of Zimbabwe, was served with process while he was in New York City for the United Nations Millennium Summit, in a suit brought by Zimbabwean nationals seeking civil damages under the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA). The suit alleges that Mugabe orchestrated violence by his political party against its opponents, including beating and burning the plaintiffs or, in one case, the husband of a plaintiff, in order to stay in power at the time of Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections in June.