The Rainbow Warrior – Thirty Years Later

(2015) NZLJ 324

2 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2015

See all articles by Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2015


This article was first delivered at a conference in Wellington New Zealand to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the sinking of the Greenpeace vessel “The Rainbow Warrior” in Auckland Harbour on 19 July 1985. The sinking resulted from explosive devices attached to the vessel at night by officers of the French Government. This event was one of the most serious international incidents suffered by New Zealand in peacetime. Resolving the issues between France proved to be extraordinarily difficult. Yet by a series of negotiations, a UN Secretary-General’s ruling and arbitrations, international law was upheld and vindicated. Now 30 years later the relations between France and New Zealand seem to be in a good state of repair. This article briefly traverses the steps that were taken to resolve the dispute, which were highly unusual.

Keywords: Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace, International political relations, United Nations, international dispute resolution

JEL Classification: K00, K32

Suggested Citation

Palmer QC, Sir Geoffrey, The Rainbow Warrior – Thirty Years Later (October 1, 2015). (2015) NZLJ 324. Available at SSRN:

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

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