ATTACKS ON UNARMED ENEMY MERCHANT VESSELS
By Charles Cheney Hyde, Of the Chicago Bar, Professor of International Law in Northwestern University Law School
May a belligerent warship lawfully attack at sight an unarmed enemy merchantman? It may occasion surprise that a speaker before the American Society of International Law should venture to raise such an inquiry at such a time. The writer shares, however, what is doubtless the view of all here present, that a belligerent warship normally lacks that right. While such a vessel may lawfully attempt to gain control of or destroy all enemy ships not exempt from capture, the law of nations is vitally concerned with the processes employed. It does not sanction the needless sacrifice of life or property.