International Law and Diplomacy in the Spanish Civil Strife

By Norman J. Padelford; Bureau of International Research of Harvard University and Radcliffe College. | Go to book overview

CONCLUSIONS
Few civil disturbances can rival the present Spanish strife in the number of legal problems to which it has given rise by interference with foreign shipping. The introduction of automatic contact mines, aircraft, and submarines, revealed the lack of adequate provisions of law covering the employment of such devices in time of insurgency and civil war. While objection has been made to the refusal of the Powers to accord recognition of belligerency to the parties in Spain, and to the Non-Intervention Accords,92 it would appear, nevertheless, that significant progress was made in the enunciation and clarification of rules of international law dealing with the status of, and interference with, foreign shipping during civil strife. From public statements and practice, it would appear that the following were held to be rules of international law during the Spanish Civil War:
1. Contestants whose belligerency has not been recognized may interfere with and control the movements of foreign vessels venturing within territorial waters.
2. Municipal decrees closing ports in the hands of the enemy to foreign vessels are binding only when supported by an adequate force in front of the designated port or ports, and foreign vessels attempting to enter may not be penalized as if for the violation of a blockade.
3. Municipal orders purporting to establish a blockade outside the three-mile limit are to be respected only if belligerency has been recognized; otherwise, freedom of navigation may be enforced up to the three-mile limit.
4. No right exists to interfere, in any way, by any device or weapon, with foreign shipping beyond the three-mile limit, in the absence of recognition of belligerency by the foreign states having jurisdiction over the vessels concerned.
5. Automatic contact mines may be placed within territorial waters in time of civil disturbance, provided adequate notice of the same is given to foreign shipping and provided safe-conducts are supplied to foreign vessels entitled to pass through the mined areas on lawful errands.
____________________
92
H. A. Smith, "Some Problems of the Spanish Civil War," British Year Book of International Law, 1937, pp. 17-31; J. W. Garner, "Recognition of Belligerency," A.J.I.L., Vol. XXXII ( 1938), pp. 106-113, and citations therein.

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