International Arbitration, from Athens to Locarno

By Jackson H. Ralston | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXII
DECISIONS OF THE PERMANENT COURT OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE

270. General observations. -- In reviewing the various judgments of the Permanent Court of International Justice, we shall for the sake of brevity rely largely upon the summaries prepared by Professor Manley O. Hudson and contained in the World Peace Foundation Pamphlets, Vol. IX, No. 2, ( 1926); The American Bar Association Journal, Vol. XII, No. 1 ( 1926), p. 34, and Vol. XIV, No. 3 ( 1928), p. 163, coupled with references to the text of the opinions themselves.

271. Steamship Wimbledon. -- The decision (No. 1) in this case may be summarized as follows:

Article 380 of the Treaty of Versailles of June 28, 1919, forbids Germany's applying to the Kiel Canal a neutrality order which would close the canal to a British vessel under French charter carrying munitions, to Danzig for transshipment to Poland during a war between Poland and Russia.

This case was inaugurated upon the application of the governments of Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan because the German authorities had refused to allow the British steamship, Wimbledon, chartered by a French company, free access to the Kiel Canal, for the reason that it was bound for Danzig with military supplies destined for the Polish Government while a state of war existed between Poland and Russia, and the German regulations with regard to neutrality prohibited the transit of war material through German territory to these countries. Poland asked leave to intervene on the ground that the refusal constituted a violation of the rights and material advantages guaranteed to Poland by the Versailles Treaty. Poland did not ask for any special damages, and the court found it unnecessary to consider whether its intervention was justified by an interest of a legal nature. Holding, however, that the interpretation of certain clauses of the Treaty of Versailles was involved and that the Polish Republic was one of the parties to the Treaty, the Court accepted the intervention.

The Court held that the canal had ceased to be an internal and national navigable waterway and had become international, subject only to the condition that the vessels passing through it must belong to nations at peace with Germany. The Court drew a distinction between this canal and the other internal navigable waterways of the German Empire. It further held that a restrictive interpretation maintaining

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