When the coast of the enemy is blocked by the belligerent in such a way that there may not be any movement of vessels from and to the coast, the operation is called a blockade.
- Blockade is done by the men of war. It is an act of war and is applied during the time of war.
- Blockade is applied to the vessels of all nations including to the vessels of neutral states.
- Blockade is related to the coast or a coast part of the enemy state. Before the blockade is applied the State should see that the interest of the third state is not affected.
- The purpose of the blockade is to prevent ingress as well as egress of ships. Both ingress and egress don’t need to be prevented in all cases.
Law on Blockade:
In the London Naval Conference of 1908-09, a detailed written law on blockade was achieved which produced the Declaration of London. A total of 21 provisions on “Blockade in Time of War” was included in the declaration. The declaration was never formally ratified, it has been accepted as a generally existing international law of blockade save for some minor expectations. For any vessel or cargo that breaks the blockade by entering or leaving the blockade zone, the blockading state has a right to seize and attack that vessel, or cargo. It is the duty of enemy ships or all neutral vessels to notify the declaration of the blockade to enter or leave the blockade zone.
Establishment of Blockade:
Before the blockade is applied lawfully, two main conditions must be fulfilled which are as follows:
- Blockade Declaration and Notification:
The blockade does not come into being by the fact itself outbreak of war. It needs to be announced and informed to neutral States. The declaration of London laid down under Article 8-16 certain requirements as to the forms and contents of the declaration and as to notification of blockade. The declaration of blockade may be made either by the blockading State or by the naval authorities acting in its name, and it must specify the beginning date, the coastal limits affected, and the permitted days of grace for an exit. The naval authorities or the blockading state declares the blockade which includes the commencing date, impacted coastal limits, grace allowing days for leaving, etc.
- Effectiveness of blockade:
The declaration of London under Article 2 laid down that blockade should be effective. The term ‘effective’ may mean that it is applied with sufficient force and the State can capture the vessels attempting to ingress or egress the coast so blockaded. When the blockade is maintained by a force that is enough to stop the entry to the enemy coast.
The effective blockade is opposite to a ‘fictitious’ or so-called ‘paper’ blockade which announces and informs that a port or a coast is blockaded without publishing enough men-of-war on the spot to be able to prevent the exit or entry of every vessel.
Breach of Blockade:
The unpermitted exit or entry of a vessel despite the blockade is a violation of the blockade. Thus, it occurs when a vessel knowing of the blockade and without license or excuse, either enters or leaves the blockaded port in a forbidden way or attempts to do so. An aiming breach is a punishment that is bothered and handled similarly to a consummated violation. Breach of the blockade is a criminal act from the perspective of blockading the State. Violation of a blockade can not be regarded as a breach unless a vessel doing so knows the existence of a blockade. A vessel attempting to break the blockade or a vessel that has committed a breach of blockade may be captured along with the cargo. The crew may be detained for the time being because they are required to serve as a witness before the prize court which would determine the validity of the captured vessel and its cargo.
End of Blockade:
Blocked may expire in any of the following ways. Firstly, when the state establishing the blockade withdraws it. Secondly, when the war comes to an end. Thirdly, when the enemy forces have driven off the blockading group. It occurs when a blockade is not effective. Fourthly, when the State establishing blockade is beating the war, or it conquers the State whose coast has been blocked.
So-called ‘Long-distance Blockade’:
The development of new weapons and new means of transport and communications have led belligerents to take even bigger maps in the strategy of attack upon their enemy’s economic life. During the first world war although traditional and customary blockade was applied they were of the least importance in comparison to ‘big map’, and ‘long-distance blockades’. In February 1915, Germany announced the waters around the British Isles to be a war zone and indicated that enemy ships found in that area would be demolished, and neutral ships might be liable to risk, Great Britain, as a retaliatory measure announced that it would prevent commodities of any kind from reaching or leaving Germany. The decision was given by an Order-in-Council on March 11, 1915. It is to be noted that the Order-in-Council did not speak about establishing a blockade with the recognized rules. However, after a few days, the British Foreign announced that “the British fleet has instituted a blockade, effectively controlled by cruiser ‘cordon’ all passage to and from Germany by sea”. In this case, the blockade was operated from a distance exceeding 1000 miles from German ports and it has been called a long-distance blockade.
The blockade applied by Great Britain was subject to many criticisms. Firstly, it was not effective. Secondly, it was not impartial but discriminatory. The Britain measure did not fulfil the spirit and concept of the rules of the blockade. However, the British Government justified the so-called long-distance blockade by reference to the changed conditions of war. As to the effectiveness, it was stated that a modern blockade could only be effective by covering commerce with the enemy passing through neutral ports.
The blockade was applied again in the Second World War by Great Britain and France against Germany beginning as early as 1939 as a measure of retaliation. Although the action taken by it could be said to be that of the blockade in the strict sense, it is clear that in modern warfare, the rules of the statute of the blockade have become irrelevant in the different conditions of naval war. Rules of the blockade should be revised otherwise the possibility of their breach is likely more than their observance.
A blockade is an action in which a state obstructs goods, communications, and people from entering or exiting an enemy’s territory by land, sea, or air. Blockades are imposed to regulate the steps of a state, as an alternative to just the city or port where the blockade takes place.Blockades have a deep history in the search for national security. There are various essential elements for the blockade which must be fulfilled.