Paris, Declaration of

Paris, Declaration of,

1856, agreement concerning the rules of maritime warfare, issued at the Congress of Paris. It was the first major attempt to codify the international law of the sea. Conflicting methods used in dealing with property at sea had demonstrated the need for uniformity, while the respect paid to neutral rights in the Crimean War indicated that common principles of action would be accepted by the great powers. Four principles were enunciated by the declaration: privateeringprivateering,
former usage of war permitting privately owned and operated war vessels (privateers) under commission of a belligerent government to capture enemy shipping.
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 would no longer be considered legal; a neutral flag would protect the goods of an enemy, except for 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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 of war; neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war, would not be liable to capture when under the enemy's flag; a 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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 would be binding only if it prevented access to the coast of the enemy. At first the United States refused to accept the declaration, claiming that privateers were necessary if a nation did not have a strong navy. However, the United States accepted the declaration during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. At the beginning of World War I prize courts recognized the declaration, but submarine warfare and extensive lists of contraband negated its principles. Part of its aims were restated in 1909 in the Declaration of London, but technological advances made many of its provisions inapplicable in 20th-century warfare.
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