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Many such questions have been discussed and varying answers have been given. It is easily seen that a different course will have to be pursued to render a blockade according to the French theory effective--i. e., when notification before a port is necessary-and to render a blockade'according to the British theory effective-i. e., when only a general public notification is necessary.
Some authorities have maintained that there should be before a blockaded port two lines of vessels, one of which should at a considerable distance from the port notify the approaching merchantman of the blockade and the second inner line should seize the merchantman if he then attempts to enter. Some have even maintained that in order that a blockade may be effective, the vessels of the blockading squadron should not be separated farther than the distance which the range of their guns would cover. Others maintain that the question of effectiveness depends on the amount of commerce entering a given port, and that the blockading squadron should vary in number accordingly.
What is blockade?-Various schemes have been tried by which to obtain the results of blockade for the belligerents without all its consequences.
For many years the doctrine of pacific blockade was held. Of late years this may be said to have been received with less favor. It was regarded as a means of constraint short of war.
In connection with blockade, it should be further recognized that it is a war measure and that it applies only in time of war.
It does not apply generally in time of domestic hostilities of the nature of insurgency even though a single State or even several States may have recognized the belligerency of the insurgent. If an actual state of war does not exist, blockade and its consequences is not admitted. Until the parent State recognizes the belligerency of the insurgent body, "the scale on which hostilities are conducted by the insurgents must be considered."
VENEZUELAN BLOCKADE, 1902.
The position of the United States is stated in a letter of Secretary Hay of November 15, 1902.
Blockade of enemy ports is, in its strict sense, conceived to be a detinite act of an internationally responsible sovereign in the exercise of a right of belligerency. Its exercise involves the suceessive states of, first, proclamation by a sovereign state of the purpose to enforce a blockade from an announced date. Such proclamation is entitled to respect by other sovereigns conditionally on the blockade proving effective. Second, warning of vessels approaching the blockaded port under circumstances preventing their having previous actual or presumptive knowledge of the international proclamation of blockade. Third, seizure of a vessel attempting to run the blockade. Fourth, adjudication of the question of good prize by a competent court of admiralty of the blockading sovereign. (Recent Supreme Court Decisions and other Opinions and Precedents, U. S. Naval War College, 1904, p. 207.)
That there may be doubt as to what constitutes effective blockade may be seen in the replies to the Venezuelan decree of June 28, 1902. The decree was as follows:
The constitutional President of the United States of Venezuela decrees:
ARTICLE 1. In consequence of the occupation of Ciudad Bolivar by insurrectionary forces, navigation in the waters of the Orinoco is prohibited, the extent of the coast line which embraces its mouths is blockaded, and the ports of Guira and Cano Colorado are closed to trade and navigation.
ART. 2. The port of La Vela de Coro is likewise declared to be blockaded.
Art. 3. The necessary naval forces shall be appointed to enforce the said blockade in a real and efficacious manner.
ART. 4. The commanders of the ships appointed to carry out the blockade of the above-mentioned ports shall duly observe the ordinances relating to the corsairs, dated the 30th of March, 1882, now in force, and the following provisions:
1. Ships which have been dispatched for the blockaded ports shall have the following terms, after the present decree has been communicated to their respective Governments, allowed them to enter: Steamships proceeding from Europe, one month; sailing vessels, two months; steamships proceeding from the United States, fifteen days; sailing vessels, one month; ships proceeding from the West Indies and Demerara, whether steamers or sailing vessels, shall have a term of ten days, with the exception of those proceeding from Trinidad and Grenada, which shall have but two days.
2. Merchandise which is destined for any port within the line of blockade may, at the discretion of the owner, be disembarked at any other established customs port on payment of the respective customs duties.
3. On any vessel, proceeding from any of the places above mentioned, reaching the line of blockade the commander of the nearest man-of-war shall communicate to him the order against crossing it, and in case he persist he shall be considered to wish to violate the blockade.
Art. 5. The ministers of the interior, foreign affairs, finance, and war and marine are charged to see to the execution of this decree and to communicate it to all whom it may concern.
Given, signed, sealed with the seal of the national executive and countersigned by the ministers of the interior, foreign affairs, finance, and war and marine, at the federal palace at Caracas, this 28th day of June, 1902, year 91 of the independence and 44 of the federation.
CIPRIANO CASTRO. The United States minister, under date of September 7, 1902, reported to Secretary Hay:
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I have learned that Germany and Great Britain based their refusal to recognize the blockade decreed by the Venezuela Government as effective on the assertion that the naval force of Venezuela is not sufficiently strong to render it effective. France confined her protest to Carupano and Cumana, stating that French ships had entered those ports without let or hindrance. I decided that, as we have no special interests in the ports blockaded, and as they seem to me likely to be occupied and abandoned from time to time by the revolutionists, it would be sufficient for me to simply remark to the minister for foreign affairs that we could not recognize as effective any blockade that we find to be ineffective. (U. S. Foreign Relations, 1902, pp. 1070, 1071.)
In an extended correspondence with the French Government the President of Venezuela tried to maintain that the blockade was effective if the vessels attempting to enter found it difficult and were in danger from Venezuelan blockaders. He said the blockading fleet was in proportion to the ordinary commerce and that most of the ships were prevented from entering, but this was not regarded as sufficient. It is not that most of the ships should be prevented, but that any ship should be in peril from attempting to enter the blockaded port.
Several cases involving questions of efficiency of blockade are briefly summarized in Atlay's edition of Wheaton's International Law:
A question respecting the efficiency of a blockade arose during the last Turco-Russian war. Turkey proclaimed a blockade of the whole
of the coasts of the Black Sea, from Trebizond to the mouth of the Danube, and maintained it by a force of cruisers in the Black Sea itself. This force prevented most of the trade with the Russian ports from being carried on, but, besides this, the Porte stationed two cruisers in the Bosphorus, and any vessels which escaped the Black Sea Squadron were captured on arriving there and taken before the Prize Court sitting at Constantinople. A more complete and efficient blockade could not possibly be devised; nevertheless it was argued for the owners of prizes that, being neutral vessels (mostly Greek), as soon as they had escaped the Black Sea Squadron they were free and were no longer liable to capture. The Turkish Prize Court, however, condemned the vessels. This case was peculiarly important from the fact that some of the foreign ambassadors at the Porte had intimated that if these vessels were not condemned the blockade would not be recognized by other countries. To hold that these Greek vessels were not liable to be captured in the Bosphorus would have been tantamount to opening the general commerce of the Black Sea to Greece, and this would have immediately invalidated the whole blockade.
The blockade of Formosa was notified by France in 1884. Great Britain protested, through its ambassador at Paris, alleging that the force at the disposal of the French admiral was insufficient. The blockade was in consequence abandoned till the arrival of reenforcements.
The blockade of insurgent Haitian ports proclaimed by Haiti in November, 1888, having ceased to be effective in the July following, Lord Salisbury notified the Haitian Government that it could not longer be respected, and that British vessels entering or leaving ports in the possession of the insurgents must not be molested by the Government cruisers. (Sections 513 b, c, d.)
The question as to what constitutes an effective blockade was raised in the case of the Olinde Rodrigues in 1898. In an opinion handed down by Chief Justice Fuller in 1899 (174 U.S., 510), the position of the court, with the grounds therefor, was stated as follows:
To be binding, the blockade must be known, and the blockading force must be present; but is there any rule of law determining that the presence of a particular force is essential in order to render a blockade effective? We do not think so, but, on the contrary, that the test is whether the blockade is practically effective, and that that is a question, though a mixed one, more of fact than of law.
The fourth maxim of the Declaration of Paris (Apr. 16, 1856), was: “Blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective; that is to say, maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy.” Manifestly this broad definition was not intended to be literally applied. The object was to correct the abuse, in the early part of the century, of paper blockades, where extensive coasts were put under blockade by proclamation, without the presence of any
force, or an inadequate force; and the question of what might be sufficient force was necessarily left to be determined according to the particular circumstances.
This was put by Lord Russell, in his note to Mr. Mason of February 10, 1861, thus: “The Declaration of Paris was in truth directed against what were once termed ‘paper blockades;' that is, blockades not sustained by any actual force, or sustained by a notoriously inadequate naval force, such as an occasional appearance of a man-of-war in the offing, or the like.
The interpretation, therefore, placed by Her Majesty's Government on the Declaration was that a blockade, in order to be respected by neutrals, must be practically effective.
It is proper to add that the same view of the meaning and effect of the articles of the Declaration of Paris on the subject of blockades which is above explained was taken by the representative of the United States at the Court of St. James (Mr. Dallas) during the communications which passed between the two Governments some years before the present war with a view to the accession of the United States to that Declaration.” (Hall's Int. Law, paragraph 260, p. 730, note.)
The quotations from the Parliamentary Debates of May, 1861, given by Mr. Dana in note 233 to the eighth edition of Wheaton on International Law, afford interesting illustrations of what was considered the measure of effectiveness; and an extract is also there given from a note of the Department of Foreign Affairs of France of September, 1861, in which that is defined: “Forces sufficient to prevent the ports being approached without exposure to certain danger.”
Later in the same case it is stated:
As we hold that an effective blockade is a blockade so effective as to make it dangerous in fact for vessels to attempt to enter the blockaded port, it follows that the question of effectiveness is not controlled by the number of the blockading force. In other words, the position can not be maintained that one modern cruiser, though sufficient in fact, is not sufficient as matter of law.
The definition of effective blockade was not sufficiently clear to all. Fauchille says:
La définition du blocus donnée par le congrès de Paris n'est pas aussi précise qu'elle aurait dû être. Sans doute, elle prohibe certainement le blocus fictif qu'on appelle blocus sur papier, en vertu duquel, d'un trait de plume, un gouvernement met en état de siège des ports et des côtes entières; mais exclut-elle aussi formellement le blocus par croisière? and later,
Nous ne croyons point toutefois que cette déclaration ait voulu précisément autoriser les blocus par croisière; elle ne les a pas désavoués