Debosmita Choudhuri & Aviral Deep, ICFAI University, Dehradun
The Paquete Habana Case is a landmark in the history of International Law, precursor to the development of subsequent pedestal of International Humanitarian Law. This case may be construed as a lawyer’s delight as it delved into newer concepts of international law pertaining to Prize of War determination. The significance of the case is annexed in the light of its contemplation regarding recognition of Customary International Law in the US Court, measuring it against the concept of whether it is a mere theory without any significance in the US judicial system. Two aspects have been subjected to scrutiny, by virtue of the concurrent study, viz. the decision of the Supreme Court (U.S.A) as to whether fishing vessels from an area under blockade may be exempted as a Prize of War, and the extent of exercise of appellate jurisdiction by the Supreme Court. Further, the issue of Customary Law emerged during the course of trial, wherein it was argued that International Customs were not adequately incorporated in the country's municipal laws through a Congressional Act, as part of international law. The case, therefore, established customs and usages as one of the important sources of International Law, and in its ruling, the court designed various doctrines to decide on this issue, as the world witnessed manifestation of the same, in the later years in the light of the Second Hague Convention 1907 along with the four Geneva Conventions. In this article, the authors attempt to analyze the decision, its historical precedents with special emphasis on the applicability of the principles enumerated along with its role in shaping modern International Law.