Dulce Est Desipere in Loco
Dulce Est Desipere in Loco
Abstract and Keywords
A Festschrift is by definition a celebration; yet of its nature it nevertheless tends to be a solemn and weighty affair. In the case of Bruno Simma, the result is that the tributes paid to him in this volume — painstaking and erudite, generous and well-deserved, as they are — do not reflect a side of him that his friends, and all those who have worked with him, know well and greatly appreciate: his slightly mischievous sense of humour. This chapter presents some light-hearted verses related to three of the cases dealt with by the International Court of Justice during Bruno's term of office.
A Festschrift is by definition a celebration; yet of its nature it nevertheless tends to be a solemn and weighty affair. In the case of Bruno Simma, the result is that the tributes paid to him in this volume—painstaking and erudite, generous and well-deserved, as they are—do not reflect a side of him that his friends, and all those who have worked with him, know well and greatly appreciate: his slightly mischievous sense of humour. The enlightened editors have therefore invited me to season the feast of learning here presented with a touch of Attic salt, in the shape of some light-hearted verses related to three of the cases dealt with by the International Court of Justice during Bruno's term of office. These lines were written for private circulation in the Peace Palace; I know he enjoyed reading them, and I am confident that he will be happy to see them here, reaching a wider audience.
1. Oil Platforms (Iran v United States)
[The attack by US forces on the Iranian oil-drilling platforms (Resalat, Reshadat, Nasr, and Salman) was allegedly justified as self-defence in response to attacks, attributed by the US to Iran, on the Sea Isle City and the Samuel B Roberts. For the importance of the term ‘commerce’, see  ICJ Rep 817.
The Iranian team of seven counsel included James Crawford, Alain Pellet, Rodman R Bundy (New York), and David R Sellers.]
Diminution and accretion
Four Iranian platforms, standing in the sea:
The Sea Isle City bought it, and then there were three.
Three Iranian platforms, wondering what to do:
Washington said ‘Self-defence!’, and then there were two.
Two oil-treatment platforms, with ‘commerce’ carried on:
‘Samuel B Roberts mined!’—and then there was one.
One legal counsel told Tehran what to do;
More advice was needed, so then there were two,
Two legal counsel—‘What if they don't agree?
Another view is needed’—so then there were three. (p.2)
Three legal counsel: ‘For international law
We'd better call in Crawford!’—so then there were four.
Four legal counsel: ‘The Court is also franc-
-ophone!’—‘lors, à présent, nous sommes cinq!?’
Five legal counsel: ‘Just to complete the mix,
We need a New York lawyer’—so then there were six.
Six legal counsel (a sort of lawyers’ heaven,
In fact a Sellers’ market); so then there were seven.2. Certain Property (Liechtenstein v Germany)
[Judge Simma in fact was disqualified from sitting in this case, but followed it with interest from the sidelines. The facts probably emerge sufficiently from the verses themselves, but the reference to the composition of the Court in line 6 of the ‘Great Gate’ may escape the eye of the uninitiated.]
Pictures at an exhibition
(with apologies to Modest Mussorgsky)
‘Szene um römischen Kalkofen’,
A painting by Pieter van Laer,—
Source, by historical quirk, of an
Unusually complex affair.
Il vecchio castello
To his Czechoslovakian castle
The Prince of Liechtenstein
Brought from time to time a new parcel
Of artworks (some of them fine
And some of them probably inferior);
Thus the painting by van Laer was to come
To be hung in the castle's interior
Bydlo (The Ox-Cart)
Two centuries passed; the Czech nation
Suffered greatly in World War Two; (p.3)
In order to get reparation
What the government opted to do
Was seize assets labelled as ‘German’,
And Beneš chose then to decide
To give to this descriptive term an
Interpretation overly wide:
The Liechtenstein prince was astonished
To find himself ‘German’ one day,
By seizure of property punished:
So his pictures were carted away.
The Market-place in Cologne
For a special exhibition in the City of Cologne
A lot of precious paintings were available on loan:
And one was kindly lent by the City of Brno
(Just how one should pronounce it I really don't kr-now):
That painting (you'll have guessed it) was Piet van Laer's Szene.
Flown from Czechoslovakia in a specially made container.
The exhibition opened; and the Prince of Liechtenstein
Startled all the visitors by shouting ‘That one's mine!’
His lawyers brought proceedings to have the thing impounded,
And kept until the courts could say if his claim was well-founded.
Ballet of the judges in their robes
Adam the Second
Went to the Constitutional Court;
Adam had reckoned
That the top judges would do what they ought.
‘Oh what a pity,
Germany's laws oblige us to say:
(Because of a treaty) (p.4)
No jurisdiction. Your Highness, Good-day!’
This decision enraged the Fürst;
I would tell you (if I dürst)
Just how fluently he cürsed:
And raged until he nearly bürst.
But then he cried: ‘But ah! I see an
-other Court: the European
Court of Human Rights’ decree
Will get my picture back for me!’
Alas! I sadly have to mention
That e'en the Human Rights Convention
Did not avail: the judges’ speeches
Concurred in finding that no breaches
Of that Convention had occurred.
Was that to be the final word?
The Great Gate of the Peace Palace
Ah, no! For the highest tribunal awaits—
The one that hears disputes between national States:
As a sovereign State little Liechtenstein may
Make Germany come to the I. C. of J.
See here the judges, in well-ordered rank,
Their countenances solemn (and august, and frank);
They're ready to listen to each side's oration,
And rule in due course (after deliberation),
On objections by Germany; and if they're rejected,
A final decision can p'raps be expected
In the course of a period measured in years:
One can't hurry justice, or so it appears.
Oh Pieter van Laer, don't you think it'd be fitting,
Since you know you can count on at least one more ‘sitting’, (p.5)
If you could come back now, and paint Scene in Court.
The Prince should be glad; what his ancestor bought
Is perhaps gone for ever, but he could take home
A scene at The Hague well worth any at Rome.
3. Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v Uruguay)
[This was written at the stage of the request for the indication of provisional measures, and therefore, despite the leisurely tone, in some haste!
CARU = ‘Comisión Administradora del Río Uruguay’ (Administrative Commission of the River Uruguay).]
Ol’ Man River
Dere's an ol’ river (not de Mississippi),
Dere's an ol’ river called de Uruguay:
Dat's where de peoples, dey got trouble,
But Ol’ Man River, he just glide away.
Ol’ Man River,
Dat Ol’ Man River,
He mus’ know sump'n
But don't say nuthin’,
He jus’ keeps rollin’ along.
Dey building mills dere
To process jute in,
And dat's a process
Dat's most pollutin’,
But Ol’ Man River
He jus’ keeps rollin’ along.
Argentina brung Uruguay
To answer for its sins to de ICJ:
Scrap dem plans, stop dat mill,
Dat Professor Pellet, he talkin’ still.
Ah gets weary,
An’ ah finds it tryin’
To hear dem counsel
Pleadin’ and replyin’,
But Ol’ Man River,
He jus keeps rollin’ along.
Gotta keep clean dat Ol’ Man River,
Gotta keep clean de ol’ Uruguay, (p.6)
Gotta go to CARU and talk it over,
‘Cos dat's what dem mighty judges say.
We don’ use dioxin,
So de water clean
An’ free of toxin,
So nice clean river,
He jus’ keep rollin’ along.
Uruguay gone an’ breached de Treaty,
Spoilin’ de environment, dat's sure a pity;
Go to De Hague, an’ de judges say:
We don’ see nuthin’ urgent, so jus’ go away.
Don't you worry
Dere ain't no hurry
For any solution,
‘Cos Ol’ Man River,
He jus’ keep oozin’ along.