indemnity

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indemnity

1. legal exemption from penalties or liabilities incurred through one's acts or defaults
2. (in Canada) the salary paid to a member of Parliament or of a legislature
3. act of indemnity an act of Parliament granting exemption to public officers from technical penalties that they may have been compelled to incur

Indemnity

 

(1) money that the conquered state pays to the conqueror under the conditions of a peace treaty; (2) compulsory cash requisitions levied by the enemy troops on the population of an occupied territory.

Historically, both types of indemnity originated from military plunder, the earliest form of which was the appropriation of military spoils characteristic of the wars of the slaveholding and feudal eras. Another widespread form of military plunder was the payment of a tribute that, from the legal point of view, was a sign of submission and consisted of the obligation of the conquered

Table 1. World and all-Union speed skating records
Distance (m)First world recordWorld record1USSR record1
1As of Feb. 5, 1973
Men
500 .....50.8 sec (1891)38.02 sec38.5 sec
1,000 .....1 min 38.0 sec (1899)1 min 17.5 sec1 min 19.2 sec
1,500 .....2 mln 35.0 sec (1893)1 min 58.7 sec1 min 59.5 sec
3,000 .....5 min 19.2 sec (1933)4 min 08.3 sec4 min 08.2 sec
5,000 .....9 min 19.8 sec (1890)7 min 09.8 sec7 min 28.26 sec
10,000 .....20 min 21.4 sec (1893)14 min 55.9 sec15 min 13.4 sec
Overall . .188.958 points (1949)168.248 points171.997 points
Women
500 .....1 min 02.0 sec (1931)41.8 sec42.6 sec
1,000 .....2 min 16.4 sec (1939)1 min 27.3 sec1 min 27.7 sec
1,500 .....3 min 28.0 sec (1929)2 min 15.8 sec2 min 16.09 sec
3,000 .....6 min 52.8 sec (1931)4 min 46.5 sec4 min 47.2 sec
5,000 .....11 min 30.5 sec (1931)9 min 01.6 sec9 min 01.6 sec
Overall . .207.484 points (1956)182.817 points183.032 points

state to pay money or deliver goods to the conqueror over a certain period of time. From the end of the 18th century the indemnity, as a general obligation of the conquered to the conqueror to pay a certain amount of money, was an invariable condition of peace treaties. The sum to be paid was in addition to the collections from the population during the war. The indemnity was considered as one of the unconditional “rights” that resulted from the victory. A characteristic of modern history is the establishment of a connection between the indemnity and the military expenditures of the conqueror; the indemnity was levied to cover these expenses. Sometimes the damages suffered by the civilian population from destruction, military requisitions, and the like were included in military expenditures.

From the first days of its existence, the Soviet state opposed the indemnity as a form of plunder of conquered nations and proposed to all participants of the World War I that they sign a peace treaty without annexations and indemnities. This requirement was consolidated in the Decree on Peace, which announced the new principles of the foreign policy of the socialist state.

Under the pressure of public opinion and as a result of statements of the Soviet diplomats denouncing the predatory essence of the indemnities, the Entente powers, in working out conditions of the Versailles Treaty of 1919, were forced to renounce indemnities. However, the renunciation was purely formal, the indemnities being replaced with reparations.

An appendix to the fourth Hague Convention of 1907, On Laws and Customs of Land Warfare, proclaimed that “private property is not subject to confiscation” (art. 46) and that “plunder is unconditionally prohibited” (art. 47); at the same time it permits indemnities levied in the course of the war in the form of imposition of collections established for the benefit of the state, including taxes, fees, and charges, as well as collections necessary to meet the needs of the army or the administration of the occupied area.

After World War II, owing to the firm position of the USSR, the peace treaties of 1947 consistently followed the principle of barring indemnities.

The Geneva Convention of 1949, drafted with due consideration of the experience of World War II on the protection of the civil population during the war, prohibits the levying of any indemnity.

V. I. MENZHINSKII

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