Maritime Peace in Perpetuity, Treaty of (1853)

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Treaty between Great Britain and the rulers of the lower Persian Gulf shaykhdoms.

After crushing local opposition to its claim of hegemony over the Persian Gulf portion of its economically important route to India, Britain sought to maintain its prerogatives and influence over the region's rulers and their subjects through a number of general treaties. The first of these was signed in 1820 and called for general disarmament and an end to attacks on British shipping. The treaty did not prohibit declared maritime warfare among local tribes, so this continued unabated, often disrupting the harvesting of pearls, an important source of income for merchants and rulers. In order to prevent attacks during the six-month pearling season, the ruler of Sharjah and Raʾs al-Khaymah suggested to the British that they oversee a truce. The British did so reluctantly, and a maritime truce was signed in 1835 and renewed annually until 1843, when a ten-year truce was signed. Reflecting Britain's willingness to expand its military and political commitments in the Persian Gulf, the 1853 Treaty of Maritime Peace in Perpetuity was meant to make the provisions of the 1843 treaty "lasting and inviolable," and called on the rulers to bring about a complete cessation of hostilities, to punish any of their subjects who attacked subjects of another treaty signatory, and to refrain from retaliating if they were victims of aggression and instead inform the British authorities, who promised to obtain reparations for any injury or damage. The emirates whose rulers signed the treaty were known afterward by English speakers as the Trucial States.


Metz, Helen Chapin. Persian Gulf States: Country Studies, 3d edition. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1994.

Peck, Malcolm C. The United Arab Emirates: A Venture in Unity. Boulder, CO: Westview; London: Croon Helm, 1986.

Tuson, Penelope, and Quick, Emma, eds. Arabian Treaties, 16001960, vol. 2. Slough, England: Archives Editions, 1992.

anthony b. toth