San Diego Law Review


Robert E. Ward

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



Use of military force by the United States government to secure the release of the Mayaguez, based on the alleged illegality of the seizure and the Cambodian failure to respond to diplomatic efforts, was apparently justified by the doctrine of reprisal. There are, however, three prerequisite elements for a legitimate reprisal: first, an illegal act of one State again another; second, an unsatisfied demand for redress of the injury; and third, a reasonable use of force to obtain reparation from the delinquent State. In this Article, only the first element of a legitimate reprisal will be examined, namely, did the seizure constitute an international wrong? Three aspects of this element will be considered: whether the Mayaguez was within Cambodia's territorial waters, whether the ship was engaged in innocent passage, and finally, whether Cambodia had a legitimate claim to the Wai Islands, offshore of which the vessel was seized.

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