The Essentials of International Public Law and Organization

By Amos S. Hershey | Go to book overview
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The Hague Conference of 1907 adopted the following Convention respecting the "Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Maritime War":


458. General Principles. -- "Belligerents are bound to respect the sovereign rights of neutral Powers and to abstain, in neutral territory or neutral waters, from all acts which would constitute a breach of neutrality on the part of he Powers which Eknowingly] tolerated them " (Art. 1). 1

"All acts of hostility, including capture and the exercise of the right of search, committed by belligerent warships in the territorial waters of a neutral Power, constitute a violation of neutrality and are strictly forbidden" (Art. 2).2>

459. Prizes captured in Neutral Waters. -- "When a ship has been captured in the territorial waters of a neutral

1 13 H. C. ( 1907.), 1. Cf. 5 H. C., 1, supra,No. 448. "If a violation of neutrality occurs, it is a neutral's duty to take steps to obtain redress, especially where the other belligerent is injuriously affected, but this is not definitely stated in the Convention." Higgins, 461.

This principle has been generally recognized both in theory and practice for over a century, though it was occasionally violated in the nineteenth century. The United States was guilty of at least two such violations during the Civil War -- the seizure of the Floridain Brazilian, and the Chesapeakein British waters; but in both these cases the acts were disavowed and ample apology and reparation made. If possible, prizes thus captured must be restored. It is unnecessary to multiply references on this point. The leading case is that of the Anna(5 C. Rob. 373), decided by Sir William Scott(later Lord Stowell). For several instances of such violations during the World War, see 2 Garner, § 562.

The Japanese were guilty of a serious violation of this principle during the Russo-Japanese War. On the night of Aug. 11, 1904, the partially disarmed Russian torpedo boat destroyer Ryeshitelniwas seized in and towed out of the Chinese harbor of Chefoo (where she had taken refuge) by two Japanese destroyers.

On the Ryeshitelni Incident,see * Hershey, Russo-Japanese War, 260-63; Higgins, 463; *>Lawrence, § 229; Smith and Sibley, 116 ff.; *>Takahashi, 437-44.


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