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The Armenian Genocide during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire continues to represent one of history’s underappreciated atrocities. Comparatively few people even know about the 1.5 million deaths or the government-sponsored extermination attempt that provided Hitler with a blueprint for the Nazi Holocaust. Unlike the Holocaust, however, there was never any accounting demanded of those responsible for the Armenian Genocide. In the aftermath of both tragedies, insurers seized upon the resulting disarray and victimization to deny life insurance benefits owed as a result of the killings. American-based litigation to vindicate rights under the Armenian polices faced substantial legal and political hurdles.

To this day, official Turkish policy remains one of denial, including opposition to the insurance benefits litigation. The United States government has occasionally been Turkey’s ally in this embarrassing episode. Despite the opposition, efforts to collect these long past due insurance proceeds have achieved some measure of recompense and recognition through settlement and oscillatingly successful litigation that remains in flux. The litigation, detailed in this article, has highlighted questionable application of American legal doctrine designed to protect the foreign affairs power of the presidency while simultaneously showing that adjudication can meaningfully address issues shunted aside by the other branches of American government, foreign nations, and the international community.

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18 Buff. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 1 (2012).