London, Declaration of

London, Declaration of,

international code of maritime law, especially as related to war, proposed in 1909. The declaration grew largely out of the attempt at the second of the Hague ConferencesHague Conferences,
term for the International Peace Conference of 1899 (First Hague Conference) and the Second International Peace Conference of 1907 (Second Hague Conference). Both were called by Russia and met at The Hague, the Netherlands.
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 to set up an international prize court with compulsory jurisdiction. Great Britain, then the chief naval power, felt that such a court should be governed by defined principles. At British invitation the leading European naval powers and the United States and Japan assembled at London in 1908. The Declaration of London that they issued comprised 71 articles dealing with many controversial points, including blockadeblockade,
use of naval forces to cut off maritime communication and supply. Blockades may be used to prevent shipping from reaching enemy ports, or they may serve purposes of coercion. The term is rarely applied to land sieges.
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, contrabandcontraband,
in international law, goods necessary or useful in the prosecution of war that a belligerent may lawfully seize from a neutral who is attempting to deliver them to the enemy. The term is sometimes also applied to the goods carried into a country by smuggling.
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, and prizeprize,
in maritime law, the private property of an enemy that a belligerent captures at sea. For the capture of the vessel or cargo to be lawful it must be made outside neutral waters and by authority of the belligerent.
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. In general it was a restatement of the existing law, but in its high regard for the rights of neutrals it represented a distinct advance. Although the U.S. Senate ratified the declaration, unanimous ratification by the signatories did not follow, and the code never went into effect officially. In World War I a proposal of the United States that the belligerents voluntarily abide by the code was not adopted.


See study by N. Bentwich (1911).

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