Corfu Channel Case

Topics: Corfu Channel Incident, United Kingdom, Royal Navy Pages: 7 (2454 words) Published: April 16, 2013
The Corfu

Name- Anuradha Hazra
Batch- B.A.LL.B
Roll No- 1083010
The Corfu Channel case was the first dispute to be brought before the newly established International Court of Justice - the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice. The Corfu Channel Case marks the beginning of a rich and diverse role played by the, International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the, judicial settlement of international disputes. After eight years of inactivity, the reorganized World Court laid lasting foundations for several important areas of international law. The Corfu Channel Incident is considered an early episode of the Cold War. It refers to three separate events involving Royal Navy ships in the Channel of Corfu which took place in 1946. On 22 October, 1946 in the Corfu Strait, two British destroyers struck mines in Albanian waters and suffered damage, including serious loss of life. On 22 May 1947, the Government of the United Kingdom filed an Application instituting proceedings against the Government of the People's Republic of Albania seeking a decision to the effect that the Albanian Government was internationally responsible for the consequences of the incident and must make reparation or pay compensation. Albania, for its part, had submitted a counter-claim against the United Kingdom for having violated Albanian territorial waters. On 9 April 1949, the Court found that Albania was responsible for the explosions and for the resulting damage and loss of human life suffered by the United Kingdom. The Court also found that the later minesweeping by the United Kingdom had violated Albanian sovereignty. The ICJ gave three judgments, the first of which rejected Albania's preliminary objections, the second held Albania responsible on the merits, and the third on compensation awarded damages to the United Kingdom . The Court rendered a decision under which Albania was to pay £843,937 to Great Britain, the equivalent of £20 million in 2006. Because of the incidents, Britain, in 1946, broke off talks with Albania aimed at establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. Diplomatic relations were only restored in 1991. -------------------------------------------------

Facts of the Case
On 15 May 1946, two British warships crossed the Corfu Channel and came under fire from Albanian fortifications. The incidents started when two Royal Navy ships, HMS Orion and HMS Superb, crossed the Corfu Channel following a prior inspection and clearing of the strait. While crossing they came under fire from fortifications situated on the Albanian coast. Although the ships suffered no material damage and no human casualties occurred, Britain issued a formal demand for "an immediate and public apology from the Albanian Government". Such apology was not forthcoming, however, and the Albanian Government claimed that the British ships had trespassed in Albanian territorial waters. The United Kingdom Government had protested, stating that innocent passage through straits is a right recognized by international law; the Albanian Government had replied that foreign warships and merchant vessels had no right to pass through Albanian territorial waters without prior authorization; and on August 2nd, 1946, the United Kingdom Government had replied that if, in the future, fire was opened on a British warship passing through the channel, the fire would be returned. Albania maintained that its advance permission was needed. The second incident was by far the most serious. On 22 October 1946, a Royal Navy flotilla composed of the cruisers HMS Mauritius and HMS Leander, and the destroyers HMS Saumarez and HMS Volage, was ordered northward through the Corfu Channel, with the express instruction to test Albania's reaction to their alleged right of, innocent passage. The crews were to respond if attacked. The UK considered the channel to be free of mines, having...

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