1949

ICJ

Corfu Channel Case UK v Albania Merits

Was Albania responsible? Was the UK responsible? UK claimed right of intervention in order to secure evidence in Albania for submission to an international tribunal. There was high probability that mines were laid down by Yugoslavia Resolution It is clear that the knowledge of the mine laying cannot be imputed to the Albanian government by reason merely of the fact that a minefield discovered in Albanian territorial waters caused the explosions of which the British warships were the victims. It is true…that a state on whose territory or in whose waters an act contrary to international law has occurred, may be called upon to give an explanation. It is also true that that state cannot evade such request by limiting itself to a reply that it is ignorant of the circumstances of the act and of its authors…but it cannot be concluded from the mere fact of the control exercised by a State over its territory and waters that that state necessarily knew, or ought to have know or any unlawful act perpetrated therein. This fact, by itself and apart from other circumstances, neither involves prima facie responsibility nor shifts the burden of proof.

By reason of this exclusive control to the other state, the victim of a breach of international law; is often unable to furnish direct proof to facts given rise to responsibility. Such a State should be allowed a more liberal recourse to inferences of fact and circumstantial evidence. The court must examine therefore whether it has been establish by means of indirect evidence that Albania has knowledge of mine lying in her territorial waters, the court draws the conclusion that the laying could not have been accomplished without the knowledge of the Albanian government. [culpa doctrine] Albania neither notify the existence of the minefield, nor warrant the British war ships of the danger they were approaching. [It was her duty to notify the ships of the danger] These grave omissions involve the international responsibility of Albania. UK had violated sovereignty of Albania ‘The alleged right of intervention as the manifestations of a policy of force such as has in the pat given rise most serious abuses and such as cannot find a place in international law. It is still less admissible in the particular form it would take here - it would be reserved for the most powerful states and might easily lead to perverting the administration of international justice itself’