London Declaration concerning the Laws of Naval War

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The London Declaration concerning the Laws of Naval War is an international code of maritime law, especially as it relates to wartime activities, proposed in 1909 at the London Naval Conference by the leading European naval powers, the United States and the Japan, after a multinational conference that occurred in 1908 in London. The declaration largely reiterated existing law, but dealt with many controversial points, including blockades, contraband and prize, and showed greater regard to the rights of neutral entities.

The declaration was signed by most of the great powers of the day: Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. (It was also signed by the Netherlands and Spain.)[1] However, no state ever ratified the declaration and consequently it never came into force.[2]

The United States insisted that the belligerent nations fighting in World War I abide by the Declaration, while the British and Germans ignored it.



  • John Westlake, International Law: War (London, 1910)
  • American Journal of International Law (supplement, New York, 1909)

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