The Corfu Channel case, also known as Affaire du Détroit de Corfou in French, was the first case involving public international law to be considered before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) between 1947 and 1949. It dealt with the idea of innocent passage as well as state responsibility for damages at sea. It was a difficult case and the ICJ’s first of any kind to be heard after being established in 1945.


On May 22, 1947, the UK presented their request to the ICJ. The submission was made without first trying to work out a special deal with Albania. According to Article 36, Paragraph 1 of the ICJ Statute, the case came under the ICJ’s purported jurisdiction.

On July 2, Albania sent a letter to the Court that partially accepted the Security Council’s suggestions. Pierre Cot, a Radical lawmaker in the French National Assembly at the time, served as the senior attorney for Albania. The court’s president issued an order specifying the due dates for each party to submit memorials in late July. While Albania submitted an opposition to the application, the United Kingdom complied with this deadline.


The Washington Statement, which the Tripartite Commission released along with its request for arbitration, stated that should the arbitrator grant Albania’s request under Part III of the Final Act of the Paris Conference on Reparations, the United Kingdom would receive the gold as partial payment for the Corfu Channel judgment.

Albania’s claim was approved by the arbitrator on February 20, 1953. However, the problem was not resolved because Italy made claims regarding the gold that were not covered by Part III of the Final Act. These new allegations prompted Italy to file a new ICJ case on May 9, 1953, titled Monetary Gold Removed from Rome in 1943. The gold remained in a vault in this city after this case was dropped on June 15, 1954, due to jurisdictional issues.


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