Frederick William Holls.

The peace conference at The Hague, and its bearings on international law and policy online

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that Avas attainable, had been finally secured, and there
remained l)ut one more question, relating, indeed,
entirely to form, but still of far-reaching importance.
This was the agreement as to terms npon which
Powers not represented at the Peace Conference
should be permitted to adhere to the Treaty.

The Question or Adherence

Of the independent Governments of the w^orld, the
Central and South American Republics, the Sultanates
of Morocco and Muscat, the Orange Free State, the
Principality of Monaco, the Republic of San Marino,
and the Kingdom of Abyssinia, were the only ones
not represented in the Peace Conference. There could
be no possible objection to the adherence of any one or
all of them to the declarations of the Conference, and
to the treaties regarding the laws and usages of war,
and to the extension of the Geneva Rules to naval war-
fare. A very different question, however, was pre-
sented with reference to the Arbitration Treaty, for the
latter not only imposes obligations upon the Signatory
Powers, but also confers certain rights — notably the
right to appoint members in good and regular stand-
ing of the Permanent Court of Arlntration — thus
implying for each appointing State an absolute recog-
nition of its independence and international status.

In the Committee on the Preparation of the Final
Act, to which was also referred the preparation of
the formal nart of the various treaties and declara-


tions, an attempt was made to insert a provision into


tlie Arljitration Treaty wliicli would liave enabled chapter vii
any Government claiming independence and an inter-
national status to further its own ends, even against
the consent and without the approval of other Sig-
natory Powers, by simply declaring its adherence to the
Treaty, and demanding recognition for its appointees
upon the list of judges. It was at this point alone that
the Conference was directly confronted with a political
question which might easily have become of great and
immediate danger. It is needless to say that the
interests chiefly affected w^ere those of the Pope, whose
claims to temporal power, independence, and an
international status, are recognized either explicitly
or impliedly by a number of the Signatory Powers,
while others cannot consider him in any other light,
so far as international law is concerned, than as a
private individual, enjoying certain immunities under
the municipal law of Italy. Instantly similar pre-
tensions on the part of the Transvaal, and possibly
also of an alleged Filipino Republic, might have
been involved, and for the future the door would
have been left open for most embarrassing questions,
arising from revolutions in any country, enjoying
various degrees of success.

The point of view maintained by the United States Attitude of
of America was that of strict legal propriety, and of It^tes!'*^
an absolute recognition of the great principle of com-
plete sovereignty of all independent States.^ This

^ The British Government held the same view, as is evidenced by
the following despatch from Lord Salisbury to Lord Pauucefote, dated
July 27 (Blue Book, p. 221) : —


Attitude of
the United

ciiupi.r \ii involves the almost self-evident trutli that no obli-
gation, however slight or insignificant, can ever be
put upon a Sovereign State against its own consent,
except by an impairment of its sovereignty. The
right to recognize other Powers, or to withhold such
recognition at will, is one of the fundamental attri-
butes of sovereignty, and it is not impaired but only
exercised when a State deliberately enters into a
limited federation or union with other States for
a particular purpose; for such adhesion implies a
mutual recognition on the part of all members of such
federation or union. It follows beyond question that
this membership cannot be conferred upon any out-
sider without the consent of all previous members.
The veto of one must be as effective as that of a
majority, without regard to size or power, otherwise
there would have been an abdication of an essential
part of sovereignty.

This view finally prevailed unanimously.

As a partial consolatiou for what must have been

" I authorize you and Sir Henry Howard to sign the Final Act,
but if any words are contained in the instrument implying the consent
of Great Britain to the subsequent adhesion of other Governments
without any general consent, a reservation to the following effect
should be made by you.

" It is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to admit that
Great Britain, except with her own consent, formally conveyed in the
usual manner by the signature of Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary, can
come under conventional obligations to another Government. Unless
the consent of Great Britain has been previously obtained, any intima-
tion of adhesion to this Convention by any Government or person but
the Plenipotentiaries now signing it will be regarded as non avenue
so far as Great Britain is concerned."


a bitter and keen disappointment, the Dutch Gov- Chapter vii
ernnient insisted upon connecting the name of the Disappoint-
Pope with the records of the Peace Conference byp„j,e."
formally requesting the President, at the last session,
to read the correspondence between the Queen of the
Netherlands and the Pope, at the time of the openmg
of the Conference.

These letters are given below, in full. Coming
from the hosts of the Conference, such a request
could not, in courtesy, be refused, and the corre-
spondence was therefore spread upon the minutes,
although it is difficult to see what other object was
attained by this remarkable proceeding, except that of
emphasizing, by contrast, the thoroughly secular and
eminently practical character of the entire work which
was accomplished.

The End of the Conference

Ten o'clock in the morning of Saturday, July 29,
had been fixed as the time for the signing of the
Final Act and the various Declarations and Treaties. The last
On this, a beautiful summer day, the members "^*^^ '"^**'
for the last time assembled in the House in the

The various documents, which had been beautifully
engrossed, and to which the seals of the signing
Plenipotentiaries had been affixed by the secretaries
of the Conference, were spread out upon the large
tables of the dining room of the Palace, and the
Plenipotentiaries from each countiy were called
from the meeting room of the Conference for the


Chapter VII purpose o£ Signature, in alphabetical order. This
work consumed the morning; and after the final
luncheon, — at which innumerable friendly toasts,
hopes, and wishes for a speedy au revoir were ex-
changed, — the closing meeting of the Conference
was called to order at three o'clock in the after-
noon. To this meeting a limited number of rep-
resentatives of the press and invited guests had
been asked ; and the little gallery in the cupola
was accordingly crowded. The staff of each dele-
gation was also present, and the meeting room itself
presented a more animated appearance than ever
before. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
M. Pierson, attended as the special representative
of the Queen, together with other officers of the
ro^^al household.

Report on Jonkhccr vau Karnebeek reported upon the sig-

signatures. „ ,,

natures as follows : —

1. The Final Act of the Conference was signed by
all the Powers there represented.

2. Treaties : —

(A) TJie Convention for the Peaceful Adjustment of
International Differences was signed by sixteen
Powers, to wit : Belgium, Denmark, Spain, United
States of America, United States of Mexico, France,
Greece, Montenegro, Netherlands, Persia, Portugal,
Roumania, Russia, Siam, Sweden and Norway, Bul-

(B) The Convention on the Laws and Customs of
War on Land was signed by fifteen Powers, to wit :
Belgium, Denmark, Spain, United States of America,


France, Greece, Montenegro, Netherlands, Persia, chapter vn
Portugal, Roumania, Russia, Siam, Sweden and Nor-
way, Bulgaria.

(C) llie Convention for the Extensio7i of the Prin-
cijjles of the Geneva Convention to Naval Warfare
was signed by fifteen Powers, to wit : Belgium, Den-
mark, Spain, United States of Mexico, France, Greece,
Montenegro, Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Rou-
mania, Russia, Siam, Sweden and Norway, Bulgaria.

3. Declarations : —

(A) Concerning the Prohibition of the Throwing of
Projectiles from Balloons. This was signed by seven-
teen Powers, to wit : Belgium, Denmark, Spain,
United States of America, United States of Mexico,
France, Greece, Montenegro, Netherlands, Persia,
Portugal, Roumania, Russia, Siam, Sweden and Nor-
way, Turkey, Bulgaria.

(B) Concerning the Prohibition of the Use of Pro-
jectiles containing Asjyhi/xiating Gas. This was
signed by sixteen Powers, to wit : Belgium, Den-
mark, Spain, United States of Mexico, France,
Greece, Montenegro, Netherlands, Persia, Portugal,
Roumania, Russia, Siam, Sweden and Norway, Tur-
key, Bulgaria.

(C) Concerning the Prohibition of Bullets ivhich Ex-
pand, etc. This was signed by fifteen Powers, to
wit : Belgium, Denmark, Spain, United States of
Mexico, France, Greece, Montenegro, Netherlands,
Roumania, Russia, Siam, Sweden and Norway, Tur-
key, Bulgaria.

The President of the Conference announced that


Chapter VII lie had been asked by the Government of the Nether-

Conespond- lands to Fcad to the Conference a letter addressed by

tiu>Quo("roT Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands to his

the Nether- Holincss, tlic Popo, infomiintji; him of the meetino; of

laixls and the ' •• " " o

i'"!"- the Peace Conference at The Hague, as well as the

response of his Holiness to this communication, as
follows : —

Letter of " MosT AuGUST PoxTiFF : Yoiir Holiness, whose

wuhehuiiia. cloqucut voicc lias always been raised with such
authority in favor of peace, having quite recently, in
your allocution of the 11th of April last, expressed
those generous sentiments, — more especially in re-
gard to the relations among peoples, — I considered
it my duty to inform you that, at the request and
upon the initiative of His Majesty, the Emperor of
All the Russias, I have called together, for the
eighteenth of this month, a Conference at The Hague,
which shall be charged with seeking the proper
means of diminishing the present crushing military
charges and to prevent war, if possible, or at least to
mitigate its effects.

" I am sure that your Holiness will look with
sympathy upon the meeting of this Conference, and
I shall be very happy if, in expressing to me the
assurance of that distinguished sympathy, you would
kindly give your valuable moral support to the great
work which shall be wrought out at my Capital,
according to the noble plans of the magnanimous
Emperor of All the Russias.

" I seize with alacrity upon the present occasion,


Most August Pontift", to renew to your Holiness the chapter vn

assurance of my high esteem and of my personal


(Signed) " Wiliielmina.

"IIausbaden, 7th of IVIuy, 1S99."

"Your Majesty: We cannot but find agreeable Reply of the
the letter by which Your Majest}', in announcing to
us the meeting of the Conference for Peace in your
Capital, did ns the courtesy to request our moral
support for that assemljly. We hasten to express
our keen sympathy for tlie august initiator of the
Conference, and for Your Majesty, who extended to
it such spontaneous and noble hospitality, and for
the eminently moral and beneficent object toward
which the labors already begun are tending.

"We consider that it comes especially within our
province not only to lend our moral support to
such enterprises, but to cooperate actively in them,
for the object in question is supremely noble in its
nature and intimately bound up with our August
Ministry, which, through the divine founder of the
Church, and in virtue of traditions of many secular
instances, has been invested with the highest possible
mission, that of being a mediator of peace. In fact,
the authority of the Supreme Pontiff goes beyond
the boundaries of nations ; it embraces all peoples,
to the end of federating them in the true peace of
the gospel. His action to promote the general good
of humanity rises above the special interests which
the chiefs of the various States have in view, and,


Chapter m better than any one else, his authority knows how to
Reply of the incline toward concord peoples of diverse nature and
^^^^^' (character. History itself bears witness to all that

has been done, l)y the influence of our predeces-
sors, to soften the inexorable laws of war, to arrest
bloody conflicts when controversies have arisen be-
tween princes, to terminate peacefully even the
most acute differences between nations, to vindicate
courageously the rights of the weak against the
pretensions of the strong. Even unto us, notwith-
standino- the abnormal condition to which we are
at present reduced, it has been given to put an end
to grave differences between great nations such as
Germany and Spain, and this very day w^e hope to
be able soon to establish concord between two na-
tions of South America which have submitted their
controversy to our arbitration.

" In spite of obstacles wdiich may arise, we shall
continue, since it rests with us to fulfil that tradi-
tional mission, without seeking any other object than
the public weal, without envying any glory but that
of serving the sacred cause of Christian civilization.

" We beg Your Majesty to accept the expression of
our great esteem and our best wishes for your pros-
perity and that of your kingdom.

"From the Vatican, the 29th of May, 1899.

(Signed) " Leo P. P. XIII."

The President stated that the text of these two
letters would be inserted in the report of the meet-
ing, and then made the following speech : —


"Gentlemen: We have come to the end of our chapter vii
labors. Before we separate and sliake hands for the speech of
last time, in this beautiful Palace of the Woods, Istaai'/"
come to ask you to join me in renewing the tribute
of our gratitude to the gracious sovereign of the
Netherlands, whose hospitality has been so lavishly
extended to us. The wishes which Her Majesty
expressed recently, in a voice so charming and so
firm, have been a good omen for the progress of our
deliberations. May God shower his favors upon the
kingdom of Her Majest}' the Queen, for the good of
the noble country placed under her rule. We beg
M. de Beaufort — the honorary President of the
Conference — kindly to lay at the feet of Her Maj-
esty this expression of our feeling. We request also
of His Excellency, and of the Dutch Government, the
acceptance of our sincere gratitude for the kindly
help which they have always lent to us, and which
has made our task so easy. It is with sincere pleas-
ure that I constitute myself the medium of your
warmest thanks to the eminent statesmen and jurists
who have presided over the labors of our committees
and our sub-committees. They have shown in this
work the most exceptional qualities, and we are glad
to be able to congratulate them here.

" Our reporters {rapjjorteurs) are also entitled to
our thanks. They have laid down in their reports,
which are really masterpieces, the authorized com-
mentaries on the accepted text. With persevering
zeal our Secretariat has performed an arduous task.


Chapter VII To tliLs fiict tlic completu aiid faithful reports of our
Speech of loiig and frequent meetings bear testimony,
staai. " I must myself, lastly, thank you, gentlemen, for

all the indulgent kindness which you have shown to
your President. It is certainly one of the greatest
honors of my life — already long — which has been
given entirely up to tlie service of my Sovereign and
of my country — to have been called by you to the
Presidency of our High Assembly. In the course of
years, during which I have been an attentive observer
and sometimes a modest worker in relation to events
which will form the history of our century, I have
seen the gradual growth and influence of moral ideas
in political relations. This influence has to-day at-
tained a memorable stage. His Majesty the Emperor
of Russia, inspired by the traditions of his family —
as M. Beernaert happily reminded us — and stimu-
lated by constant solicitude for the good of nations,
has in a measure brought within our reach the reali-
zation of this ideal.

" Those of you, gentlemen, who are younger than
your President will no doubt make further advances
in the course which we are now pursuing. After so
long and laborious a session, when you have before
your eyes the results of 3'our work, I shall certainly
not impose upon you an historical recital of what you
have accomplished at the price of so much effort. I
shall confine myself to a few general considerations.

" In response to the call of the Emperor, my August
Sovereign, the Conference accepted the programme
outlined in the circulars of Count Mouravieff, and


made it the subject of a long and careful examina- Chapter vii
tion. If the First Commission, which had taken in
charge military questions and the limitation of arma-
ments and of budgets, has not reached many material
results, it is because it encountered technical diffi-
culties, and a series of considerations connected with
them, which it did not regard itself competent to
consider, l)ut the Conference itself has asked the
various Governments to take up anew the considera-
tion of these themes. It unanimously agreed to the
resolution proposed by the lirst delegate of France, to
wit : That the limitation of military charges which
actually weigh on the w^orld is greatly to be desired
for the increase of the moral and material welfare of
humanity. The Conference also accepted all the
liumanitarian proposals referred to the examination
of the Second Commission. Under this head it was
able to satisfy the desire long expressed of extending to
maritime warfare the application of principles analo-
gous to those which form the object of the Conven-
tion of Geneva. Taking up again a work inaugurated
at Brussels tw^enty-five years ago, under the auspices
of the Emperor Alexander II., the Conference suc-
ceeded in giving a more definite form to the law^s and
customs of war on land. These are, gentlemen, posi-
tive results achieved after conscientious lal)or. But
the work which opens a new era, so to speak, in the
domain of International Law is the Convention for
the Peaceful Adjustment of International Differences,
whose first heading is 'The General Maintenance of


Chapter VII " Somo ycars ago, in bringing to a close the arbi-
Speech of tratioii on the Behring Sea matter, an eminent French
staai. diplomat expressed himself as follows : ' We have tried

to maintain intact the fundamental principles of that
august International Law which stretches like the
dome of heaven above all nations, and which bor-
rows the laws of nature herself to protect the peoples
of the earth one from another, in teaching them the
necessities of mutual good will.'

" The Peace Conference, with the authority which
attaches to an Assembly of civilized nations, has
tried also to safeguard, in questions of prime inter-
est, the fundamental principles of International Law.
It took for its task their definition, their develop-
ment, and their more complete application. It has
created, on several points, new laws answering to
new necessities, to the progress of international life
and the exigencies of public conscience, and to the
best aspirations of humanity. Veritably it has accom-
plished a work which the future will call, no doubt,
' The First International Code of Peace,' and to
Avhich we have given the more modest name of
' Convention for the Peaceful Adjustment of Inter-
national Differences.'

" In opening the meetings of the Conference, I
pointed out as one of the particular elements of our
endeavor, — as the very essence of our task, — the
realizing of that progress, so impatiently expected, in
regard to mediation and arbitration, and I was not
mistaken in thinking that our labors in that line
would assume an exceptional importance. The work


is accomplished to-day. It bears witness to the high Chapter vii
solicitude of Governments for all that concerns pacific
peaceful development of international relations, and
the welfare of nations. That work, no doubt, is
imperfect, but it is sincerely practical and wise. It
tries to consolidate, while safeguarding both, the two
principles whicli ai-e the foundation of International
Law, — the principle of sovereignty of individual
States, and the principle of a just international
comity. It gives precedence to that which unites
over all which divides. It affirms that in the new
era upon which we are entering the dominant factor
should be good works, arising from the necessity of
concord, and made fruitful by the cooperation of
States seeking the realization of their legitimate
interests in solid peace, regulated by justice.

" The task accomplished by the Conference of The
Hague in this matter is truly beautiful and meritori-
ous. It is in accord with the magnanimous state-
ments of its august initiator, and it wall have the
support of public opinion, and will gain, I hope, the
approval of history.

" I shall not enter, gentlemen, into the details of
the Act which many of you have just signed. They
are brought out and analyzed in the admirable
report which is in your hands. At the present time,
it is perhaps premature to judge as a whole the work
which has hardly been brought to a close. We are,
as yet, too near its origin ; we lack the bird's-eye
view. What is certain is, that this work, undertaken
on the initiative of the Emperor, my August Master,


Chapter VII Mild \iiidor tliG auspices of Iler Majesty the Queen of
the Netherlands, will develop in the future ; and, as
the President of our Third Commission said, on a
meinoral)le occasion : ' The further Ave advance on
the road of time, the more clearly will its importance
appear.' Gentlemen, the first step is taken. Let us
unite our efforts, and profit from experience. The
srood seed is sown ; let us await the harvest. As for
me, having come to the end of my career, and to the
decline of my life, I consider it a supreme consola-
tion to see the opening of new perspectives for the
good of humanity, and to l)e able to look forward
into the bright vistas of the future."

Prince Mlinster thereupon spoke as follows : —
Speech of " Gentleme?^ : You will allow me, as the senior

MUnster. member of this assembly, to answer the eloquent
words which we have just heard, and you will join
me in expressing our thanks to M. de Staal and
M. van Karnebeek — the President and Vice-President
of the Conference. M. de Staal has greatly con-
tril3uted to the success of our work, for, by his great
courtesy to all of us, he was able to maintain good
relations among all the delegates. It is very rare
that an assembly which has lasted two months and
a half can show such perfect harmony as that which
has always reigned in this room.

" M. van Karnebeek has been the active principle
of the Conference. He has worked more than any
of us, and we owe him much. We have to thank
him also for the great hospitality which we have
found here, from the Throne down to the most


humble citizen. M. van Karnebeek has found in- Chapter vii
spiration in the example of his August Sovereign,
who has honored us with a welcome which we shall
never forget. If the Conference has not realized all
of its wishes — and its desires and illusions ran high
— it will at least have a great influence upon the
future, and the seeds which it has sown are sure to
germinate. Its particular result will then be tlie
influence which the meeting of so many eminent
men cannot fail to have upon the mutual under-
standing of all nations.

" This Conference will be one of our most beautiful
memories, and in this recollection two names will

Online LibraryFrederick William HollsThe peace conference at The Hague, and its bearings on international law and policy → online text (page 24 of 39)