French Postal Vessel "Manouba"

On January 18, 1912, during the Italian-Turkish war of 1912, the French steamship “Manouba” was arrested by an Italian warship while making a scheduled crossing from Marseille to Tunis. On board were 29 Turkish passengers who were members of a mission of the Turkish Red Crescent, but suspected by the Italian authorities of being in the Turkish army. The vessel was forcibly escorted to the Port of Cagliari and detained there upon the captain’s refusal to deliver the 29 Turkish passengers to the Italian authorities. The following day, the vessel was released and the 29 Turkish passengers were arrested at the request of the French Vice-Consul at Cagliari.


By an agreement dated January 26, 1912, and by a compromis dated March 6, 1912, the Government of the French Republic and the Royal Italian Government agreed to submit to arbitration the question of the legality of the arrest and temporary seizure of the Manouba


In its award, the Tribunal considered the legality of the disputed actions of the Italian authorities in three successive phases, namely, the capture of the Manouba, the temporary seizure of the vessel, and the arrest of the 29 Turkish passengers.


As to the first phase, the Tribunal held that the Italian authorities had sufficient grounds to believe that at least some of the passengers concerned were enlisted in the Turkish army, and they were entitled to demand the surrender of the passengers and to take the necessary measures to obtain compliance with such demand. Since no such demand had been made prior to the seizure of the vessel, however, the act of seizing the Manouba and diverting it from its course was unjustified.


As to the second and third phases, namely the temporary detention of the vessel at Cagliari and the arrest of the Turkish passengers, the Tribunal held that these measures were justified. The Tribunal reasoned that the illegality of one measure should not affect that of the others, nor should unjustified measures be considered justified by the legality of a later phase.


The Tribunal rejected the French Government's demand for damages for non-pecuniary damage to the French flag and political and moral prejudice resulting from the violation of international law, considering that the arbitral award itself constituted a serious sanction which was adequate in the circumstances. With respect to losses suffered by private parties, the Tribunal found that damages were due for the delay caused to the Manouba by its unjustified capture and deviation to Cagliari, but that no losses were suffered as a result of the temporary detention of the vessel. The Tribunal took into consideration the expenses incurred by the Italian authorities in temporary detaining and guarding the vessel and having deducted this amount, fixed the damages due to the interested parties, represented by the French Government, at 4,000 francs.

Case information

Name(s) of Claimant(s)
Name(s) of Respondent(s) -
Names of Parties

The Government of the French Republic:


Mr. ANDRÉ HESSE, Counsel;


The Royal Italian Government:



Case number 1912-01
Administering institution Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
Case status Concluded
Type of case Inter-state arbitration
Subject matter or economic sector Law of the sea
Procedural rules - Other -
Treaty or contract under which proceedings were commenced


Language of Proceeding French
Seat of Arbitration (by Country) Netherlands
Arbitrator(s), Conciliator(s), Other Neutral(s)

Knut Hjalmar Leonard de Hammarskjöld

Guido Fusinato

Johannes Daniel Jacob Kriege

Louis Renault

Baron Michel de Taube

Representatives of the Claimant(s) -
Representatives of the Respondent(s) -
Representatives of the Parties
Number of Arbitrators in case 5
Date of commencement of proceeding 06 March 1912
Date of issue of final award 06 May 1913
Length of Proceedings 1-2 years
Additional notes -


Award or other decision