London, Declaration of, international code of maritime law, especially as related to war, proposed in 1909. The declaration grew largely out of the attempt at the second of the Hague Conferences to set up an international prize court with compulsory jurisdiction. Great Britain, then the chief naval power, felt that such a court should be governed by defined principles. At British invitation the leading European naval powers and the United States and Japan assembled at London in 1908. The Declaration of London that they issued comprised 71 articles dealing with many controversial points, including blockade, contraband, and prize. In general it was a restatement of the existing law, but in its high regard for the rights of neutrals it represented a distinct advance. Although the U.S. Senate ratified the declaration, unanimous ratification by the signatories did not follow, and the code never went into effect officially. In World War I a proposal of the United States that the belligerents voluntarily abide by the code was not adopted.
See study by N. Bentwich (1911).