Declaration of Paris – April 16, 1856.

The Plenipotentiaries who signed the Treaty of Paris of March assembled in conference,

Considering: That maritime law in time of war has long been the subject of deplorable disputes;

That the uncertainty of the law and of the duties in such a matter gives rise to differences of opinion between neutrals and belligerents which may occasion serious difficulties, and even conflicts; that it is consequently advantageous to establish a uniform doctrine on so important a point;

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That the Plenipotentiaries assembled in Congress at Paris cannot better respond to the intentions by which their Governments are animated than by seeking to introduce into International relations fixed principles in this respect.

The above-mentioned Plenipotentiaries, being duly authorized, resolved to concert among themselves as to the means of attaining this object; and having come to an agreement, have adopted the following solemn declaration:

  1. Privateering is and remains abolished;
  2. The neutral flag covers enemy’s goods, with the exception of contraband of war;
  3. Neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war, are not liable to capture under enemy’s flag;
  4. Blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective-that is to say, maintained by a forge sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy.

The Governments of the undersigned Plenipotentiaries engage to bring the present declaration to the knowledge of the States which have not taken part in the Congress of Paris, and to invite them to accede.

Convinced that the maxims which they now proclaim cannot but be received with gratitude by the whole world, the undersigned Plenipotentiaries doubt not that the efforts of their Governments to obtain the general adoption thereof will be crowned with full success.

The present Declaration is not and shall not be binding, except between those Powers who have acceded, or shall accede, to it.

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