International Law

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SUMMARY OF RELEVANT ASPECTS OF CORFU CHANNEL CASE (MERITS)
Judgment of 9 April 1949
The Corfu Channel Case (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland-Albania) arose from incidents that occurred on October 22nd, 1946, in the Corfu Strait: two British destroyers struck mines in Albanian waters and suffered damage, including serious loss of life. The United Kingdom first seized the Security Council of the United Nations which, by a Resolution of April 9th, 1947, recommended the two Governments to submit the dispute to the Court. The United Kingdom accordingly submitted an Application which, after an objection to its admissibility had been raised by Albania, was the subject of a Judgment, dated March 25th, 1948, in which the Court declared that it possessed jurisdiction. On the same day the two Parties concluded a Special Agreement asking the Court to give judgment on the following questions. Only one aspect of the first question – Is Albania responsible for the explosions? – is relevant for our purposes here. In its Judgment the Court declared on the first question, by 11 votes against 5, that Albania was responsible. The facts are as follows. On October 22nd, 1946, two British cruisers and two destroyers, coming from the south, entered the North Corfu Strait. The channel they were following, which was in Albanian waters, was regarded as safe: it had been swept in 1944 and check-swept in 1945. One of the destroyers, the Saumarez, when off Saranda, struck a mine and was gravely damaged. The other destroyer, the Volage, was sent to her assistance and, while towing her, struck another mine and was also seriously damaged. Forty-five British officers and sailors lost their lives, and forty-two others were wounded. * * *

In relation to the first question, the Court finds, in the first place, that the explosions were caused by mines belonging to the minefield discovered on November 13th. It is not, indeed, contested that this minefield had been recently...
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