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Corfu Channel Case (United Kingdom v. Albania)

International Court of Justice
1949 I.C.J. 4, 22


On May 15, 1946, two British ships passed through Albania’s North Corfu Channel where they were fired at by an Albanian battery. Following this incident, the United Kingdom (plaintiff) and Albania (defendant) entered into diplomatic discussions about the right of British ships to pass peacefully through Albanian waters. Albania maintained that the ships should not pass through without providing prior notification to the Albanian government. However, the United Kingdom maintained it had a right under international law to innocently pass through the straits. Between May 15, 1946 and October 22, 1946, the Albanian government allegedly placed mines in the Corfu Channel in Albanian territorial waters. Albania was at war with Greece, and the mines were allegedly part of its defense. On October 22nd, British warships attempted to again pass through the straits, but were destroyed by the mines, with loss of human life. The United Kingdom brought suit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the ground that Albania had a duty to warn the approaching British ships of the mines. It sought damages from Albania. However, Albania argued that its territorial rights had previously been violated by the British ships passing through its straits on May 15, 1946, and that it was entitled to a satisfaction.

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