Frederick William Holls.

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

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always shine — those of M. de Staal and M. van
Karnebeek. I beg you to rise in their honor."

The President answered that he was deeply Reply of
touched by the eloquent words which had just been staaL '^'^^ "^^
spoken, and that he thanked Prince MUnster from
the bottom of his heart, as Avell as all those whose
sentiments he had expressed. In the many memo-
ries which he would take away from the Conference,
that of the good relations which he had sustained
with all his colleagues would never leave his recol-

Jonkheer van Karnebeek said that he was equally Reply of
touched by the words of Prince Miinster. He k "j'^tbeek*"
hesitated nevertheless to apply these words to him-
self personally. If it was thought that he was able
to do anything for the success of the common labors,
and if he had been in any way the personification
of the spirit and the work of the Conference, M. van

;M8 the peace conference at the HAGUE

Speech of
uelles de

Chapter VII Kamcbeek declared that he had but reflected the
spirit which filled all the delegates, and of what they
themselves had accomplished.

Baron d'Estournelles de Constant expressed him-
self as follows : —

" With the permission of our honored President I
would like to submit to the Conference a personal
wish before we separate. Our work may be dis-
cussed and judged too modestly, but, as Prince
Mtinster has just said, it will never be doubted that
we have worked conscientiously for two months and
a half. We came to The Hague from all parts of
the globe, without knowing one another, with more
of prejudice and of uncertainty than of hope. To-day
many prejudices have disappeared, and confidence
and sympathy have arisen among us. It is owing to
this concord, born of the devotion of all of us to the
common work Ave have done, that w^e have been
enabled to reach the first stage of progress. Little
by little it will be universally recognized that the
results obtained cannot be neglected, but that they
constitute a fruitful germ. This germ, however, in
order that it may develop, must be the object of con-
stant solicitude, and this is the reason why we should
all wish and hope that our conference is not separat-
ing forever. It should be the beginning. It ought
not to be the end. Let us unite in the hope, gentle-
men, that our countries, in calling other conferences
such as this, may continue to assist in advancing the
cause of civilization and of peace."

M. de Beaufort made the following address : —

Hopes for




"Before the meeting of to-day adjourns, I wish to ciiapter vii
address you in a few words : The Government has speech of m.
been happy to see you here. It has followed jonr"^
deliberations with very great interest, and it rejoices
with you that your labors have borne fruit. If the
Peace Conference has not ])een able to realize the
dreams of Utopians, we should not lose sight of
the fact that in this respect it does not differ from
all meetings of serious and intelligent men, having a
practical end in view. If, on the other hand, it has
put to shame the gloomy predictions of pessimists
who see in it nothing but a generous effort, certain
to exhaust itself in the recital of great wishes, it has
demonstrated the justice of the view of the August
Monarch wdio has chosen this present moment for his
initiative. I do not wish at this moment to speak of
the great mass of results wdiicli have been accom-

" It is true that a unanimous agreement on the ques-
tion of disarmament could not possibly be expressed
in a practicable formula, applicable to the domestic
requirements of the different countries, or in harmony
with their diverse needs. Let us remember on this
subject the words of the great historian — the Duke
of Broglie — wdio, a few weeks ago said, regarding
the Peace Conference, '^ We live in a time wdiere it
is necessary to take account more and more of the
moral effect of a great measure, rather than of its
material or important results.' Without doubt the
moral effect of your deliberations, already evident, w^ill
make itself felt more and more, and will not fail to

de Beaufort.


Chapter VII sliow itsolf ill a striking manner, in public opinion.

Speech of M. It will powerfully second the efforts of Governments
to solve the question of the limitation of armaments.
It will remain a serious and legitimate concern of the
statesmen of all countries.

" Permit me, before the close, to express the hope
that His Majesty, the Emperor of Russia, may find a
renewal of efforts for the continuation of the great
work which he has undertaken, the most effective
consolation in the great and cruel sorrow which has
just overtaken him.^ For us, the recollection of your
sojourn will remain forever a bright spot in the
annals of our country, because we are firmly con-
vinced that it has opened a new era in the history of
international relations between civilized peoples."

The President thereupon declared that the sessions
of the Peace Conference were closed, and that the
meeting was adjourned without day.

1 The death of the Heir Apparent, Grand Duke George, of Russia,
on July 10.



In considering the bearings of the Peace Confer- The
ence and its results upon the science of International na^af con*
Law and upon the future policy of civilized Powers, ^"'^"^^*'°°-
the first fact which must be borne in mind is that the
Conference itself should be regarded, historically, not
as the outcome of a sudden impulse on the part of
the Emperor of Russia, but as the natural and almost
inevitable consummation of a movement and ten-
dency in European diplomacy whose beginnings date
back to the Peace of Westphalia.

When the Conference was first called, its connec-
tion with the intellectual, scientific, and philosophic
aspirations for universal and eternal peace was em-
phasized by innumerable articles and dissertations
containing a great display of erudition and research.
It seemed difficult even for the daily papers to discuss Former
the rescript of the Emperor of Russia without allu- Eternal
sions to the "Great Plan" of Henry IV. and Sully, ^'^''■
the Essay of William Penn, the great work of the
Abbe St. Pierre, and the famous pamphlet of Kant
on " Eternal Peace." It cannot be denied that this
view had a certain justification, but it wholly failed


;J.j2 the peace conference at the HAGUE

Chapter viii to grasp ail essential cliaracteristic of the Peace Con-
Dipiomatic fereiice, to wit : its diplomatic nature. The gatlier-
PeaceCon- ii^g ^t The Hagiic was tlie lineal descendant, so to
ference. speak, iiot of the innumerable Peace Congresses held
in various quarters of the globe, but of the diplo-
matic assemblies called for the purpose of solving a
present problem, and of furnishing guarantees, more
or less permanent, for peace between the Powers rep-
resented, — beginning with the Conferences of Miinster
and Osnabriick in 1648, including; those of Utrecht
in 1713, of Paris in 1763, and, above all, the Con-
gress of Vienna in 1815, and that of Berlin in
Differences The vital distiuctiou between these fjjatherintrs and

between it' , -p, ^ » . c

and the tlic Pcacc Conference at The Hague is, that all of

Vienna, Paris, the formcr wcrc held at the end of a period of war-
and Berhu. {^^Q, aiid their first important object was to restore
peace between actual belligerents ; whereas the Peace
Conference was the first diplomatic gathering called
to discuss guarantees of peace, without reference to
any particular war, — past, present, or prospective.
All of the other gatherings above mentioned also had
the object of affording guarantees for as permanent
a peace as seemed possible at the time, and this is
notably true of the Congress of Vienna, held at the
close of the Napoleonic convulsion. That Congress,
it should be remembered, fixed the general outlines
of the boundaries between European nationalities in
a manner which has scarcely been disturbed, the one
important exception being the annexation of Alsace-
Lorraine to the German Empire. The problem fol-


lowing the fixing of these general lines was that of chapter vni
national consolidation under the freest possible insti-
tutions, and the struggle for this object fills the
history of the sixty years immediately following that
historic gathering. When national unity and liberty
had been gained by Germany and Italy, the most of
Europe was able to contemplate what certainly seems
to be a stable equilibrium of international relations ; a stable
and this equilibrium is only slightly affected by the attaiued.
shifting of the Franco-German frontier on the Vosges
and the Rliine. The more immediate and historic
causes of friction having thus been removed, no in-
superable obstacle remained to a federation of the
civilized Powers, definitely organized for purposes of
international justice. The time had come to make
the expression " International Law " a reality, instead
of the cover for a miscellaneous collection of moral
precepts and rules of intercourse.

The chief obstacle to the attainment of this object xoimpair-
was for many years the fear that it implied an im- jJ^Jionjii
pairment of national power, especially for defence. ^^^^"^®-
This conviction was based upon a curious confusion
between cause and effect. It was the absence of
anything worthy to be called International Law
which made universal military service and the
highest possible efficiency in warlike preparations
necessary, — not militarism and all that it implies
which prevented the establishment of International
Law\ During the lifetime of Prince Bismarck the
system of universal military service which, under
his guidance, had achieved such brilliant successes,




Chapter viii .seemed impregnable even so far as scientific discus-
sion was concerned. To doubt its efficiency in Ger-
many almost involved an accusation of treason, and
other Continental countries followed the lead of the
German Empire both in practice and in theory. In
the introduction to this volume reference has been
made to the extreme timeliness of the rescript of the
Russian Emperor — coming after the death of Prince
Bismarck and after the end of the Spanish- American
war, and at a time when the shadow of a most tre-
mendous problem in the Far East was darkening the
horizon of all commercial nations.
The Magna The application of historic terms or definitions to

int'^rnationai different ideas is generally hazardous, but it is diffi-
cult to find any valid objection to the use of the term
Magna Charta of International Law for the treaty
of The Hague for the Pacific Adjustment of Inter-
national Differences. The significance of the Magna
Charta of England lies not so much in what it con-
tained, as in what it signified. It was the basis of
all future development of English civil liberty, which
up to that time had been without any satisfactory
legal foundation. In the words of its greatest his-
torian " the whole of English Constitutional History
is little more than a commentary on Magna Charta." ^
It is not necessary, for the purpose of exalting the
Peace Conference and its work, to depreciate the
value of the .science of International Law as previ-
ously understood ; but every student has long been
well aware of the fact that in the absence of any

^ Stubbs, Conatll alio mil Hiiitorij of Enr/land, 532.


ultimate legal or judicial method for the adj ustment chapter vm

of international differences, the science itself was

bound to remain fragmentary and ineffective. It

was almost as though municipal law had contained

only rules of action and principles of justice, but had

provided no method by which these principles could

be vindicated or the rules carried into effect. The

keystone to the arch must ever be the provision for

a peaceable method of procedure, however incomplete

or unsatisfactory, for the establishment of rights and

the imposition of duties.

Here is the true bearing of the work of the Peace a peaceable
Conference upon International Law. The provisions procedure,
of the latter regarding the sovereignty of States, the
inviolability of their chief executives and representa-
tives, the rights and duties of aliens and citizens, the
provisions regarding national territory and the high
seas, and those regarding treaties and contracts, — in
other words, the entire body of International Law in
peace and war, — are all bound together by the new
treaty, under which a violation of rights no longer
need necessarily lead to war, but can be litigated
and settled, no less efficiently because peaceably.
Whatever fault may be found with the particular
provisions of the treaty, the latter itself must remain
the nucleus around which, by discussion and adjudi-
cation, a more perfect body of law is sure to be
framed. A text-book of International Law w^ithout
a careful discussion of The Hague Treaty for the
Peaceful Adjustment of International Differences is
hereafter quite as unthinkable as a history of Eng-


Chapter Yiii lisli Constitutional Law containing no reference to

Magna Charta or the Bill of Riglits.
The voluntary Objection may be made to this analogy on the
treaty^ " ^ grouncl tliat inasmucli as all the proposed substitutes
for war in tlie treaty are left entirely to the volun-
tary choice of the belligerents, no real advance has
been made. It may be argued, and it will perhaps
be said with a sneer, that there never was any
obstacle in the way of governments wishing to arbi-
trate rather than to fight, and that the mere qualify-
ing phrases "as far as possible," "as far as circum-
stances allow," etc., practically nullify the value of
the articles in which they are contained. Objections
such as these are equivalent to a denial of the possi-
bility of any advance in International Law. Brief
reflection will convince even the severest critic that
the only other alternative to a voluntary system of
arbitration must necessarily include a sanction, in the
shape of an executive power or authority with suffi-
cient force to compel adherence to an agreement for
arbitration. A few advocates of the idea have even
gone so far as to suggest the establishment of an
international army, to act as an executive force of
the proposed international court, compelling obedi-
ence to its mandates. This would, of course, mean
a vital impairment of the sovereignty of all States
agreeing to such a plan, and it would lead directly
to a cosmopolitanism, than which nothing could have
been farther from the ideas of the framers of The
Hague Treaty. They were careful to leave the sov-
ereignty of each State absolutely unimpaired, and



trusted exclusively to the force of public opinion and chapter vui
the piil)lic conscience for a sanction to enforce the
mandates of the newly established Court.

The irresistible force of enlightened public opinion The force of
is probably felt more acutely in the United States [,'
and England than on the Continent, and that this
public opinion would ever sanction a defiance of a
righteous decree of the international court of arbitra-
tion is almost unthinkable. Moreover, the force of
public opinion in the civilized world will be felt in
each separate State, and responsible statesmen will
be compelled to explain hereafter in every instance
why they do not arbitrate or have recourse to peace-
able methods of settlement of a controversy. To
use the happy phrase of Baron d'Estournelles, " War
has now Ijeen solemnly characterized as a conflagra-
tion, and every responsible statesman has been ap-
pointed a fireman, with the first duty of putting
it out or preventing its spread." That, notwith-
standing all these precautions, public passion may
hereafter prove to be as potent an influence for
war as the intrigues of monarchs and diplomats in
the past, may be admitted, but it is only another
mode of saying that human passions and human
nature cannot be changed by any provision of law
or treaty, however elaborate or however solemn.
While, therefore, expectations should be moderate
and prediction not too optimistic, there is absolutely
no ground for despondency or even discouragement.
To continue once more the simile of Emrlish Consti-
tutional development, the signing of Magna Cliarta



effects inde-

penrtent of

temporary or ^^ j^^^| COllditioDS

Chapter VIII was by 110 iiieaiis a finality, and tyranny and oppres-
sion were often rampant in England afterward as
before. It was, however, followed in due time by
the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act, and
the Bill of Rights, and the great edifice of Anglo-
Saxon civil liberty all over the world indicates at
least the possibilities of what may hereafter arise
upon the foundations laid at The Hague.

The ultimate effects of the Conference upon Inter-
national Law are quite independent of temporary

History teaches nothing more

ouditious. clearly than that great ideas are generally nearest
their fulfilment when superficial observers, even those
of great philosophical acumen, consider this very
end to be hopelessly remote. Moreover, des^^erate
attempts to justify the continued existence of an
abuse, such as the indefinite increase of military
burdens, usually denote the beginning of the end.
Even granting that this view may be too sanguine,
it cannot be doubted that the favorable impression
left by the Peace Conference upon the Governments
concerned will tend to induce the calling of future
Conferences on particular subjects. It will hardly
be denied that every international attempt to regu-
late or solve social or political problems is a step in
advance, however modest, in the building up of Inter-
national Law, — often, indeed, in direct opposition
to the purposes of the particular originators. This
follows, quite apart from the results attained, from
the mutual recognition implied and manifested in
free and open discussion.



One of the most immediate and practicable develop- chapter viii
ments in the making of International Law which may a code of
reasonably be anticipated, is a thorough scientific ^ ' ^ '
definition and elaboration of the rights and duties
of Neutral Powers, in accordance with the "wish"
adopted by the Conference on motion of the first
delegate from Luxemburg.^ No branch of Inter-
national Law is in greater need of precise formulation.
The very idea of neutrality is of comparatively mod-
ern origin, — it was not mentioned by Grotius and is
first referred to by Bj^nkershoek. In the nineteenth
century it assumed, for the first time, a practical and
immediate importance, and at the time of the Peace
Conference the possibility of an alliance between the
minor, and so-called Neutral Powers of Europe, for
the protection of their joint and separate interests,
above all of peace, was seriously mooted. Such an
alliance might easily have a determining influence
in a great European crisis, and its realization would
encounter obstacles which, while they are undoubt-
edly great, could hardly be called insurmountable.
This will be rendered superfluous if the wish of the
Peace Conference is fulfilled, and, beyond doubt, the
most promising field for international jurists to-day
is in this direction. The elaboration of a " Code of
Neutrality," as it was called at Delft by President
Asser of the Institute of International Law, should
be the first addition to the Magna Charta of The

It will be noted that the Conference has not
^ See ante, p. 138.


Chapter VIII attempted to change the theory of International Law
The theory of ill any rcspcct, iior did it seek to modify theoretical
ptMcean ^^ abstract views of peace or war. Reference has
already been made to the omission to denounce or
even to emphasize the horrors of warfare. The
attitude of the Conference toward war in the
abstract was eminently practical, and it should be
most emphatically stated that it did not, even by
implication, indorse the view that war is always and
necessarily an evil or a wrong. It may be doubted
whether a single member of the Conference would
hesitate to indorse the eloquent words of James Mar-
tineau, that " the reverence for human life is carried
to an immoral idolatiy, when it is held more sacred
than justice and right, and when the spectacle of
blood becomes more horrible than the sight of deso-
lating tyrannies and triumphant hypocrisies. . . .
We have therefore no more doubt that a war may
be right than that a policeman may be a security for
justice, and we object to a fortress as little as to a
handcuff." ^ Similarly the work of the Conference
implies a definition of the word " peace," meaning
infinitely more than the negation of all violence.
This idea, — which may be regarded as the purely
sentimental and non-resistance definition of peace,
— if adopted seriously by a federation of nations,
would simply mean the indefinite preservation of.
the status quo, or at least the impossibility of any
change except by unanimous consent. It would be,
of all possible policies, the most preposterous and

^ Studies of Ckristkmiti/, p. 352.


immoral, for it would abandon civilization itself to Chapter vm
the mercy of the worst existing government.

That Peace which was the ultimate goal of the The true

... (letinition of

Conference must be defined dmerently : it is the "Peace."
result of the reign of law and justice in inter-
national relations — the realization of that right-
eousness which exalteth a nation; and only ignorance
or wilful blindness can deny the fact that this has
often been approximated, if not achieved, as the
result of horrible, bloody, and most lamentable

Under this definition peace, so far from being international
merely the pet comfort of dreamers and weaklings, j^gJ-JJ^®
becomes at once the true ideal of the bravest soldier
and of the most far-seeing statesman. It no longer
sue-erests national weakness or unreadiness, but on
the contrary it encourages the highest efficiency, and
everything which goes to make true national strength.
The principles of international punitive justice can-
not be codified or even formulated with precision,
but their existence and momentous significance is not
denied or ignored, even by implication, by any act of
the Peace Conference. In view of the participation
of Turkey and China, this fact is of special and essen-
tial importance, and it also bears directly upon the
vast problem of the ultimate control and government
of the tropics.

At the beginning of the new century there is an The struggle
unmistakable and almost instinctive groping for in- ^^^^^^._^^
creased external power on the part of all the great
nations of the world. To examine the philosophical


Chapter VIII and psycliological causes of this tendency, which
seems to have taken the intellectual leaders of the
world completely unawares, would be a fascinating
task, for which this is neither the occasion nor the
place. ^ It is, however, absurd and fatuous to deny
either its existence or its force. With weak or un-
scrupulous leadership, this movement, which undoubt-
edly has a commercial and material, as well as an
intellectual background, may easily become the cover
for sordid cruelty and selfish outrage. Believing it
to be nothing more, superficial critics and moralists,
especially the survivors of the commercial or " Man-
chester" school of thought of the last generation,
have denounced it with a vehemence which is as
truculent as it is unavailing.
The moral The uioral qucstious involved in the relations of

?nvoived^ pcoplcs, especially between those of materially
different grades of civilization, constitute what is
perhaps the most difficult theme of ethics.^ In no
sphere of thought is clearness and precision more
indispensable, and the moral as well as the political
problems which it contains constitute the highest
tasks of the statesmen of the future. The Peace

Online LibraryFrederick William HollsThe peace conference at The Hague, and its bearings on international law and policy → online text (page 25 of 39)