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001- The Corfu Channel Case (UK vs Albania)

On May 22nd, 1947, the United Kingdom filed an application instituting proceedings against Albania before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) following damage to warships of the British fleet in the Corfu channel. Accusing Albania of having laid the mines or of having let a third State lay them after mine-clearing operations had been carried out in Albanian waters, Great Britain had initially taken the issue to the United Nations (UN). The UN Security Council then recommended that the case be transferred to the ICJ.

Albania had first raised preliminary objections relating to the Court’s jurisdiction and the admissibility of the application.  The ICJ ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear this dispute; it based this decision on a communication from the Albanian Government dated  July 2nd 1947. The Court clarified that the consent of the parties to its jurisdiction did not obey any predefined formal condition.

Judgment of 25-03-1948.pdf

The second judgment dealt with the merits of the case. In light of the debates and the documents produced, although the ICJ could not conclude that Albania had deliberatively laid its mines or authorised a third State to do so, the Court nevertheless agreed with Great Britain that the mines could not have been laid without the knowledge of the Albanian Government.

In a counterclaim, Albania had accused the United Kingdom of having violated its international sovereignty by bringing its war fleet into its waters and by carrying out demining operations after the explosions. The ICJ considered the first argument to be inadmissible, finding that the passage of the fleet through international waters was innocent; however, it accepted Albania’s second argument, ruling that the minesweeping operations carried out without the country’s consent were an infringement of its international sovereignty. The concept of “self-help” invoked by the United Kingdom was not retained by the ICJ.

Judgment of 09-04-1949.pdf

In a third Judgment, rendered on December 15th, 1949, the Court assessed the amount of reparation owed to the United Kingdom and ordered Albania to pay £844,000.

Judgment of 15-12-1949.pdf

This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.