Let’s say I am citizen of country A and own a company there worth one billion USD. Neighbouring country B invades country A in violation of international law. In the course of the war, large parts of my company (buildings, vehicles, ...) are destroyed by the armed forces of country B.

Can I pursue arbitration against country B for my damages?

  • 1
    bdb484 has supplied an answer to the question (the correct one, in my opinion) you have asked. However, it focuses on the chosen methodology of "arbitration" as a means of dispute resolution, as opposed to say, a lawsuit. Was this you intention to focus solely on arbitration? (As the answer would be different with, e.g. a lawsuit).
    – sharur
    Mar 4, 2022 at 17:26

3 Answers 3


Yes. Arbitration is a private, voluntary process, so two parties can agree to arbitrate virtually any dispute.

However, because it is voluntary, Country B generally has no obligation to participate in the process once you've inititated it.

  • 2
    Country B may have already agreed to investor-state arbitration through a treaty.
    – Dale M
    Mar 4, 2022 at 21:08
  • @DaleM What would this mean then?
    – lejonet
    Mar 6, 2022 at 22:57
  • @lejonet it would mean that Country B has agreed to arbitration
    – Dale M
    Mar 7, 2022 at 0:28

You can pursue all you like, but success is rather unlikely.

I'm not aware of any country which limits their ability to wage war that way. (And remember that these wars are almost always characterized as self-defense by the aggressors.) War risks are also commonly excluded from insurance policies.

  • The one situation I can think of would be if it was a condition of a peace treaty, but even then compensation is generally handled as a state-to-state thing instead of private parties bringing claims for their individual damages.
    – cpast
    Mar 7, 2022 at 0:19

Nigh impossible

Unless a country specifically agrees to being sued by passing a law that allows doing so, you can't sue a country at all. That's called sovereign immunity. So you can't sue.

Unless someone (person or country) agrees to arbitration, you can't get arbitration at all. That's because arbitration is by design voluntarily.

Most countries (as in 99.9% of all cases) refuse arbitration out of principle and it's nigh impossible to get them to arbitrate about war damages, unless you literally have it in writing that they will arbitrate your damages, including war.

And you can't get your insurance to pay: war is generally excluded fully.

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