International Prize Court

The International Prize Court was an international court proposed at the beginning of the 20th century, to hear prize cases. An international agreement to create it, the Convention Relative to the Creation of an International Prize Court, was made at the Second Hague Conference in 1907 but never came into force.

The capturing of prizes (enemy equipment, vehicles, and especially ships) during wartime is a tradition that goes back as far as organized warfare itself. The International Prize Court was to hear appeals from national courts concerning prize cases. Even as a draft, the convention was innovative for the time, in being both the first ever treaty for a truly international court (as opposed to a mere arbitral tribunal), and in providing individuals with access to the court, going against the prevailing doctrines of international law at the time, according to which only states had rights and duties under international law. The Convention was opposed, particularly by elements within the United States and the United Kingdom, as a violation of national sovereignty.

The 1907 convention was modified by the Additional Protocol to the Convention Relative to the Creation of an International Prize Court, done at the Hague on October 18, 1910. The protocol was an attempt to resolve some concerns expressed by the United States at the court, which felt it to be in violation of its constitutional provision that provides for the U.S. Supreme Court being the final judicial authority. However, neither the convention nor the subsequent protocol ever entered into force, since only Nicaragua ratified the agreements. As a result, the court never came into existence.

A number of ideas from the International Prize Court proposal can be seen in present-day international courts, such as its provision for judges ad hoc, later adopted in the Permanent Court of International Justice and the subsequent International Court of Justice.


  • "Hague Convention XIII -Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War: 18 October 1907, 36 Stat. 2415, 1 Bevans 723, 205 Consol. T.S. 395, 3 Martens Nouveau Recueil 713 (ser. 3), entered into force Jan. 26, 1910". University of Minnesota Human Rights Library. University of Minnesota. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  • "Convention relative to the establishment of an International Prize Court". Treaty Database. Government of the Netherlands. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  • Hudson, Manley O. (June 1943). "Chapter 4. The Proposed International Prize Court". The Permanent Court of International Justice 1920–1942 (A Treatise). New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 71–79.

Further readingEdit

  • Brown, Henry B. (July 1908). "The Proposed International Prize Court". American Journal of International Law. American Society of International Law. 2 (3): 476–89. doi:10.2307/2186326. JSTOR 2186326.