The Course of International Law, Through HLS Exams
For the students among you ramping up for your international law exams, you’re probably glad that you won’t have to face this kind of question (which appeared on Professor Beale’s 1905 exam at Harvard Law School):
Indictment for larceny. The defendant was an officer in the English army detailed to pursue a, band of Indians who had been murdering settlers in Canada. The Indians fled into the United States, fortified themselves just over the. border, and from their fort, made an attack on the defendant’s troop. The defendant, to protect his troop from the attack, crossed the line also, it being impossible to find cover on the Canadian side, and finding a large pile of vegetables on the land of a settlor took them and with them constructed a fortification, against the protest of the owner. This fortification saved the defendant’s troops but the vegetables were destroyed, as defendant expected when he took them. The defendant alleged in his defence that the faking of the vegetables was an act of war, necessary for his defence against his enemy. The English government approved his act. Should he be acquitted?
And maybe all of us should be grateful that this kind of question no longer makes much sense:
State A, having decided to make war on State B, attacked and destroyed the army of B without warning. A declaration of war by each state against the other followed. State A then seized all property within the country belonging to citizens of State B, including the property of X, who had long resided and carried on business in State A. Can any legal complaint be made, and if so, by whom?
More available here.