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DECLARATION OF PARIS, 1856 1 - A. Pearce Higgins, The Hague Peace Conferences and Other International Conferences concerning the Laws and Usages of War 
The Hague Peace Conferences and Other International Conferences concerning the Laws and Usages of War. Texts of Conventions with Commentaries, by A. Pearce Higgins, LL.D. (Cambridge University Press, 1909).
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DECLARATION OF PARIS, 18561
Déclaration de Paris, 1856.
Les Plénipotentiaires qui ont signé le Traité de Paris du trente Mars, mil huit cent cinquante-six, réunis en Conférence,—
Que le droit maritime, en temps de guerre, a été pendant longtemps l’objet de contestations regrettables:
Que l’incertitude du droit et des devoirs en pareille matière, donne lieu, entre les neutres et les belligérants, à des divergences d’opinion qui peuvent faire naître des difficultés sérieuses et même des conflits:
Qu’il y a avantage, par conséquent, à établir une doctrine uniforme sur un point aussi important:
Que les Plénipotentiaires assemblés au Congrès de Paris ne sauraient mieux répondre aux intentions dont leurs Gouvernements sont animés, qu’en cherchant à introduire dans les rapports internationaux des principes fixes à cet égard:
Dûment autorisés, les susdits Plénipotentiaires sont convenus de se concerter sur les moyens d’atteindre ce but; et étant tombés d’accord ont arrêté la Déclaration solennelle ciaprès:—
1. La course est et demeure abolie:
2. Le pavillon neutre couvre la marchandise ennemie, à l’exception de la contrebande de guerre:
3. La marchandise neutre, à l’exception de la contrebande de guerre, n’est pas saisissable sous pavillon ennemi:
4. Les blocus, pour être obligatoires, doivent être effectifs, c’est-à-dire, maintenus par une force suffisante pour interdire réellement l’accès du littoral de l’ennemi.
Les Gouvernements des Plénipotentiaires soussignés s’engagent à porter cette Déclaration à la connaissance des États qui n’ont pas été appelés à participer au Congrès de Paris, et à les inviter à y accéder.
Convaincus que les maximes qu’ils viennent de proclamer ne sauraient être accueillies qu’avec gratitude par le monde entier, les Plénipotentiaires soussignés ne doutent pas que les efforts de leurs Gouvernements pour en généraliser l’adoption ne soient couronnés d’un plein succés.
La présente Déclaration n’est et ne sera obligatoire qu’entre les Puissances, qui y ont, ou qui y auront accédé.
Fait à Paris, le seize Avril, mil huit cent cinquante-six.
The Declaration of Paris, 1856.
The Plenipotentiaries who signed the Treaty of Paris of the 30th March, 1856, assembled in conference,—
That maritime law, in time of war, has long been the subject of deplorable disputes:
That the uncertainty of the law and of the duties [of states] in such a matter gives rise to differences of opinion between neutrals and belligerents which may occasion serious difficulties and even conflicts:
That it is consequently advantageous to establish a uniform doctrine on so important a point:
That the Plenipotentiaries assembled in Congress at Paris cannot better respond to the intentions by which their Governments are animated than by seeking to introduce into international relations fixed principles in this respect:
The above-mentioned Plenipotentiaries, being duly authorised, resolved to concert among themselves as to the means of attaining this object; and, having come to an agreement, have adopted the following solemn Declaration:—
1. Privateering is and remains abolished:
2. The neutral flag covers enemy’s goods, with the exception of contraband of war:
3. Neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war, are not liable to capture under enemy’s flag:
4. Blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective; that is to say maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the enemy’s coastline.
The Governments of the undersigned Plenipotentiaries engage to bring the present Declaration to the knowledge of the States which have not been called upon to take part in the Congress of Paris, and invite them to accede to it.
Convinced that the maxims which they now proclaim cannot but be received with gratitude by the whole world, the undersigned Plenipotentiaries doubt not that the efforts of their Governments to obtain the general adoption thereof will be crowned with full success.
The present Declaration is not and shall not be binding except between those powers who have acceded or shall accede to it.
Done at Paris, April 16th, 1856.
The signatory Powers to the Treaty of Paris were Great Britain, Austria, France, Russia, Sardinia, and Turkey.
At the same time the following Protocol recorded that “on the proposition of Count Walewski [the senior French Plenipotentiary], and recognising that it is for the general interest to maintain the indivisibility of the four principles mentioned in the Declaration signed this day, the Plenipotentiaries agree that the Powers which shall have signed it or which shall have acceded to it, cannot hereafter enter into any arrangement in regard to the application of the right of neutrals in time of war which does not at the same time rest on the four principles which are the object of the said Declaration. Upon an observation made by the Plenipotentiaries of Russia, the Congress recognises that as the present resolution cannot have a retroactive effect it cannot invalidate antecedent Conventions1 .”
The outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 found the two Allied Powers, Great Britain and France, with different principles as to the maritime law of capture. Great Britain adhered to the rule of the Consolato del Mare which rendered enemy property, ship or cargo capturable, neutral property, ship or cargo being free. France, except where otherwise bound by treaty, was free to act on the maxim “robe d’ennemi confisque robe d’ami,” by which neutral goods on board enemy ships and neutral ships carrying enemy goods were liable to capture2 . The Allied Powers notified that throughout the war they would not capture enemy goods on neutral ships, or neutral goods on enemy ships: they further intimated that they would not issue Letters of Marque. These practices, which at first were only intended to apply to the war then in progress, were embodied in this famous Declaration.
The only maritime Powers which, up to the assembling of the Hague Conference of 1907, had withheld their formal acceptance of this Declaration were the United States, Spain, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia and Uruguay. The United States during the Civil War of 1861, and Spain and the United States during the war of 1898, adhered to its principles. The refusal of the United States to formally adhere was due to the rejection of the “Marcy Amendment” exempting private property from capture at sea3 . At the Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Hague Conference on the 27th Sept. 1907, the delegates of Spain and Mexico, in voting on the Convention (No. 7) relative to the conversion of merchant ships into war ships4 , declared that their governments adhered to the Declaration of Paris in its entirety1 . The first paragraph of the Declaration will be dealt with in relation to this Convention. The absence of a definition of contraband of war and the divergence in the practice of maritime states in regard to blockade have caused the Declaration to have had only a modified application2 , while the adoption of the contention that the sinking of neutral prizes is lawful if the captor cannot spare men for a prize crew would result in a practical abrogation of the freedom accorded to neutrals by the third paragraph.
The Fourth Committee of the Hague Conference of 1907 considered the questions of contraband and blockade. On the former subject, five different proposals were brought before the Committee, the most noteworthy being the British for the complete abolition of contraband of war. This proposal received 26 votes, 5 states voted against, and 4 abstained from voting. The question was then submitted to a special Sub-Committee: but as there appeared to be no prospect of a unanimous vote, the Fourth Committee reported to the 7th Plenary Meeting of the Conference that the whole question should be submitted to a fresh examination by the states interested3 .
The discussion on the subject of blockade shewed so great a divergence between the extreme Continental view as embodied in a proposal of the Italian delegate, and the Anglo-American view as embodied in a proposal of the British and United States delegates, that on the proposition of Sir Edward Fry the further consideration of the matter was suspended4 .
The subject of the destruction of neutral prizes was discussed at the Hague Conference in 1907, and is dealt with subsequently5 .
A Conference of certain Powers interested in questions affecting maritime warfare on the invitation of the British Government met in London in December, 1908, for a further discussion of questions left unsolved by the Hague Conference6 .
[1 ]British State Papers, 1856, Vol. lxi. p. 155; De Martens, Nouveau Recueil de Traités, Vol. xv. p. 731; Hertslet, Map of Europe by Treaty, Vol. ii. p. 1282; Twiss, International Law, Vol. ii. p. 512; Phillimore, International Law, Vol. iii. pp. 11, 302, 359; Halleck, International Law, Vol. ii. pp. 81, 117, 118; Maine, International Law, Chap. vi.; J. Westlake, War, pp. 128, 154, 228, 304; Wheaton (Atlay’s edition), International Law, pp. 491, 503, 648, 691; Hall (5th ed.), International Law, pp. 526, 691, 713, 718; T. J. Lawrence, International Law, pp. 386, 408, 431-5, 567-571; J. B. Scott, Leading Cases in International Law, pp. 898-901 (notes); H. Taylor, International Law, pp. 440, 513, 516, 722; N. Bentwich, Private property in War, pp. 15, 50, 79, 105; T. Gibson Bowles, The Declaration of Paris (1900); L. Oppenheim, International Law, Vol. ii. pp. 93, 183-6, 339, 406; E. Nys, Le droit international, Vol. iii. pp. 189-197, 234; J. B. Moore, Digest of International Law, Vol. v. p. 195; Vol. vii. pp. 561-583; Sir T. Barclay, Problems of International Practice and Diplomacy, pp. 102, 206.
[1 ]British State Papers (1856), Vol. lxi. p. 150.
[2 ]See J. Westlake, War, pp. 120-8.
[3 ]J. B. Moore, Digest of International Law, Vol. vii. p. 563.
[4 ]See post, p. 308.
[1 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), p. 48. La Deuxième Conférence Internationale de la Paix, T. i. (Actes ct Documents), p. 234.
[2 ]J. Westlake, War, pp. 228-232.
[3 ]Parl. Papers, pp. 194-6. La Deux. Confér. T. i. pp. 256-260.
[4 ]Parl. Papers, pp. 197-8. La Deux. Confér. T. i. p. 262.
[5 ]See post, p. 89; also pp. 557, 597.
[6 ]See post, p. 540.