The Essentials of International Public Law and Organization

By Amos S. Hershey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXV
THE SO-CALLED LAW OF CONTRABAND

496. Definition. -- Contraband of war consist of "those articles which belligerents prohibit neutrals from carrying to their enemies, not in connection with a blockade but because they are regarded as being objectionable in themselves, either generally or in the particular circumstances of a war."1

497. List of Articles Absolute Contraband. -- The unratified Declaration of London ( 1909) declared that certain articles susceptible only of military use might, without notice,2 be treated as contraband of war, under the name of absolute contraband.3

____________________
1
2 Westlake ( 1st ed.), 240. The term is derived from the Latin contra bannum or bandum, meaning contrary to the ban or edict.

The history of the modern theory and practice of the prohibition of the carriage of contraband appears to date from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For historical treatment of the subject, see especially: * Atherley- Jones, ch. 1; 2 Fauchille, Nos. 1538-64; Hall, Pt. IV, ch. 5; 1 Kleen, 348 ff.; 7 Moore, Digest, ch. 26; Pyke, Law of Contraband ( 1915), chs. 4-5, 10; 2 Twiss, §§ 121 ff.; 2 Westlake, 241 ff.

"The notion of contraband connotes two elements: it concerns objects of a certain kind and with a certain destination. Cannons, for instance, are carried in a neutral vessel. Are they contraband? That depends: if they are destined for a neutral government, no; if destined for an enemy government, -- yes. The trade in certain articles is by no means generally forbidden during war; it is the trade with the enemy in these articles which is illicit, and against which the belligerent to whose detriment it is carried on may protect himself by the measures allowed by International Law." Report on the Declaration of London, in Higgins, 582, or in Naval War College, International Law Topics ( 1909), 58-59.

2
"The words de plein droit (without notice) imply that the provision becomes operative by the mere fact of the war, and that no declaration of the belligerents is necessary. Trade is already warned in time of peace." Report, cited above.
3
D. L., 22. The list, now discarded, was as follows:

1. Arms of all kinds, including arms for sporting purposes, and their distinctive component parts. 2. Projectiles, charges, and cartridges of all kinds, and their distinctive component parts. 3. Powder and explosives specially adapted for use in war. 4. Gun mountings, limber boxes, limbers, military wagons, field forges, and their distinctive component parts. 5. Clothing and equipment of a distinctively military character. 6. All kinds of harness of a

-703-

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