Frederick William Holls.

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

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Conference certainly did not condemn the struggles
which must necessarily precede the triumph of a
higher civilization over that of a lower type, and

1 A most interesting and suggestive essay on this subject by Dr.
Hilty, entitled " Fin de Siecle," will be found in his Jahrbuch, 1899.
See also Eucken, Die Lehensanschauungen der grossen Denker, 483.

'^ It is treated with classical brevity and clearness by the late Chan-
cellor Riimelin of the University of Tubingen, in his address Ueber
das Verhaltniss der Politik zur Moral, 1 Reden und Aufsatze, 144.


which advancing standards of conduct may soften, Chapter viii
but can never wholly prevent. Modern civilization
cannot regard the existence of uncivilized or half-
civilized forces with the indifference of a St. Simon
Stylites, nor will it any longer consider them from
a purely commercial or missionary point of view.
Moreover, it would be recreant to its trust if it did
not forestall real and threatening dangers by judi-
cious and energetic aggression.^ This duty is not Aggression
affected by the imputation of base motives, or by
sneers about the necessary assumption of superiority,
having, perhaps, no theoretical justification. Had
the Peace Conference supported a contrary view, even
by implication, its work would have been antiquated
before it had ever taken effect.'^

On the other hand, the work of the Conference is,
of course, in direct and uncompromising opposition

^ See Schlief, Der Friede in Europa, 21.

Professor H. von Hoist, in his Constitutional History of the United
States, in discussing the Mexican War of 1846, — a classical example
of aggression, justifiable on the highest grounds, yet presenting many
of the difficult problems referred to in the text, — uses this language : —

" Might does not in itself make right, but in the relations of nations
and states to each other, it has, in innumerable instances, been justi-
fiable to make right bow before might. In whatever way the ethics
of ordinary life must judge such cases, history must try them in the
light of their results, and in so doing must allow a certain validity to
the tabooed principle that the end sanctifies the means. Its highest
law is the general interest of civilization, and in the efforts and strug-
gles of nations for the preservation and advancement of general civiliza-
tion, force, not only in the defensive form but also in the offensive is a
legitimate factor." (Vol. III., Lalor's translation, p. 271 ff.)

And see Ililty on the Spanish-American AVar, Jalirhuch, 1899, 126 ff.,
as well as Brooks Adams' America's Economic Supreniacij.

2 See Captain Mahan's articles on " The Peace Conference and the


Chapter Yiii to (lie icU'cis of tliG " baiTack-trainecl " pseudopliiloso-
xejrationof pliers, especially in Germany, ^vllo have attempted
1;!^''^'; p'yjSl'ive to regard war as a '' positive good," a "necessary
good." element in the Divine Government of the world," —

in a sense different from pestilence, famine, or evil
in general.^ Argument seems wasted upon adherents
of this view. It may, however, be said that he who
draws a theoretical distinction in favor of the horrors
of war as compared with other inevitable evils afflict-
ing mankind, scarcely occupies a higher point of view
than those cannibals who measure the extent of the
blessings expected from their idol by the number of
victims offered at its shrine.
Thefedera- The federation of the world, — for justice and for
world for^ every universal civilized interest, — that is the idea
justice. Avhicli found its best, if not its first, illustration in the

Peace Conference. The latter exemplified something
akin to federal cooperation, on the part of the Powers
having a disparity of size and strength measured by
the difference in this respect between Eussia and
Luxemburg, or the United States and Servia, and
havino; interests as diverse as those of Switzerland
and Siam. They could all act together efficiently
and amicably on the one secure basis of equality in
International Law. It was the direct negation and

Moral Aspect of AVar," in his Lessons of the War irith Spain, and other
Essai/s, 207, and especially a remarkable letter from General William
T. Sherman to General Meigs, quoted on p. 237.

See also the admirable book of Professor Charles Waldstein, The
Expansion of Western Ideals and the World's Peace, 1899.

1 Upon this subject see Schlief's chapters Der Krieg als Element
der fjiitllichen Weltordnung, and Der Krieg als positives Gut.


opposite extreme of the ideca of ca World-Empire, as Chapter viii
attempted by CiBsar and Napoleon.

Placing sound and self-reliant national patriotism
far above the vague cosmopolitanism of sentimental
dreamers, it still subordinates the interests of any one
people to the higher concern of humanity at large.
Recognizing to its fullest extent the trusteeship of
civilized peoples for those beyond the pale, — the
"white man's burden" and "manifest destiny," in
the true sense of those much-abused terms, the spirit
of the Peace Conference cainiot be invoked to justify
a sordid policy of rapacity or greed.

In a sense which surely corresponds to the inten- Development

f • -r . -. -f . . !/-<(• 1 "^ ^^^^' ideas of

tions 01 its Imperial initiator, the Conierence takes tbeUoiy
up the ideas of the Holy Alliance of 1815. Notwith- '^"^'*''''-
standing the infamies perpetrated under the cover
of its name in the bitter and hopeless struggle of
tyranny against liberty, that treaty still deserves
honorable mention in the history of the world's
progress toward peace and justice. It represented, at
the time, the l^est expression which had jQi been given
to the fundamental truth that a solidarity of interest
unites all civilized Powers, and that this fact, as well
as the higher law of Righteousness demands the estab-
lishment of a system of justice to take the place of
anarchy and force in their ordinary relations. The
Magna Charta of The Hague carries out his thought
within safe and practicable limits, — omitting the
mysticism and bigotry which have prejudiced the
opinion of the world, even against those aims of the
Holy Alliance which were both noble and reasonable.


Chapter VIII It is casy and rather gratuitous to prophesy against
stability. the Stability of such a system. When it is remem-
bered that the Feudal System lasted for centuries
after its work seemed to be fulfilled, and that the
same is true, to a modified extent, of the succeeding
period of " enlightened despotism," it seems rash to
indulge in pessimistic forecasts regarding the future
of modern constitutional government, which is hardly
one century old. The greatest perils of the modern
state are acknowledged to be internal: — reaction, cleri-
calism, materialism, and the power of unrest, super-
ficially characterized by such mutually exclusive terms
as socialism and anarchism. It is a significant fact
that all of these interests, so far as they are aggres-
sive and revolutionary, should have united in the
bitterest and most truculent hostility to the Peace
Effect on the Conference and all that it im2:)lies. More far-sighted
confronting than many of their opponents, whose support of the
Modern Conference was scarcely lukewarm, these forces recog-
nized in the success of the former the destruction of
the basis of their existence and the death-knell of
their hopes.

This would be the case even without the tremen-
dous material blessings which would be made possi-
ble by a diversion of the huge sums now swallowed
up for military uses, to the fructification of civil life,
and the encouragement of general culture. The sub-
stitution of law for force in international relations
will, according to the measure of its accomplishment,
affect the thoughts and minds of individuals as pro-
foundly as the ideas of religious tolerance or civil


liberty. The glamour of the supposed superior Chapter vin
strength of reactionary government, or of the com-
forts of superstition will be gone, Faith will revive, the
" struggle for the soul " will be won, and general dis-
content, the basis of all unrest, must correspondingly
diminish. To those who believe that the perfecting
of man is " the goal toward which Nature's work has
been tending from the first, . . . the chief object of
Divine care, the consummate fruition of that creative
energy which is manifested throughout tlie knowable
universe,"^ — this will all appear as following logi-
cally from the undeniable fact that the Peace Confer-
ence represents one step — however modest — in the
upward progress of the world.

The practical objection has been raised against the xhe future
endeavors of the Cdnference, that if successful, they "^ *^'P^°"*^y*
would mak,e Diplomacy superfluous, or substitute a
race of international pettifoggers for the eminent
experts in an art which it has taken centuries to
perfect. It may be questioned whether the miscon-
ception which is the basis of this objection relates
more to the nature of The Hague treaty or to that of

Taking the fine definition of Rodbertus of the art
of politics, " the royal art of ascertaining and accom-
plishing the will of God " — " making reason and the
will of God prevail," as Bishop Wilson and Matthew
Arnold would express it. Diplomacy nnist be regarded
as one of its noblest branches. Its highest manifesta-
tion, tact, is the flower of all human culture, physical,

1 John Fiske, The Destiny of Man, 107.


Chapter VIII intellectual, and moral, and to be an ideal diplomat is
rightly the ambition of many of the world's true aris-
tocrats. The popular definition, however, "a diplo-
mat is a man sent abroad to lie for his country,"
shows the seamy side of the picture, and should reas-
sure those who profess to fear a deterioration of the
profession from its present standards. The truth is
evident, that, even without the Peace Conference, a
radical change was impending.

The era of mystery and exclusiveness in diplomacy
is even now at an end, and the finality of the change
was recosjnized forever when the most autocratic of
Empires, and the one most successful in the diplo-
macy of the old school, made an alliance with a
Republic whose foreign minister's tenure of office
depends upon a parliamentary majority.
Higher Uiidcr tlicsc circumstaiiccs it seems most fortunate

onTracmiouai ^^i^t at tlic vcry time when the old order is changing,
the foundation should be laid of a system which will
encourage an even higher development along tradi-
tional diplomatic lines. To say that the new system
will make diplomacy unnecessary is simply absurd.
"With the adoption of jNIagna Charta and the develop-
ment of English Constitutional law, the rude clerics
who, before King John's time, had assisted the ruder
litigants, were superseded by the glorious company
of English jurists, whose services to the cause of
liberty can hardly be overestimated. The change in
Diplomacy will be similar.

For all the shrewdness, the tact, patience, social
grace, and "repose in energy," which have hitherto



been the chief characteristics of a successful diplomat, chapter viii
there will be a greater demand than cver.^ Besides
this there will now be sought the learning, and above
all tlie power of expression, which can vindicate a
country's cause, if necessary, before the judgment
seat of a tril)iinal representing to an infinitely higher
degree than was hitherto possible the idea of inter-
national justice. Nothing could be more disastrous
than pettifogging, for, in view of their possible sub-
mission to tlie International Court, important diplo-
matic notes must hereafter be of a nature to bear
the refining fire of examination and discussion by a
body of experts in all civilized countries, who will
have a personal and scientific interest in the Corjnis
Juris Gentium to be promulgated at The Hague. Of
such a body it may well be said : —

Securus judicat orbis terrarum.

To the question, what remains to be done to insure what remains
the success of the work of the Peace Conference, the
reply is quite obvious. Public opinion remains the
final source of power and success in public affairs —
for an institution as well as for an individual. To
the creation of favorable public opinion every intelli-
gent and patriotic man or woman in the civilized
Avorld is called to contribute his or her share, be it
great or small. The response of the English-speak-
ing public to this call has never been doubtful. But

1 See Rolin-Jacqueinins, Revue de droit international et de legislation
comjiaree, V. p. 4GiJ ; and Pradier-Fodere, Cours de droit diplomatique.
Vol. I. p. 17 ff., and Vol. II. p. :50:i ff.


Chapter VIII even in those Continental countries where dense igno-
rance, insipid wit, and the silliest sarcasm seemed to
take the place of intelligent and decent discussion of
the Conference and its Avork, there are signs of dawn
and enlightenment.
The Govern- It is most cncouraging and of the highest impor-
advance of tancc that upou the whole Continent the Governments
ophiion '^^'^ apparently in advance of public opinion upon the

entire subject of the Peace Conference. The reason
is not far to seek. No man who is fit for the position
can to-day hold a place involving the direction of
his country's international policy, without feeling an
almost intolerable pressure of responsibility. To him
every remote chance of a lightening of his burden
comes as a promise of blessed relief. It is an histori-
cal fact, that none of the obstacles to success which
the Peace Conference had to overcome, originated in
the mind of any sovereign or high minister of state.
In every case they were raised by underlings without
responsibility, and anxious to show superior wisdom
by finding fault. So long as this favorable govern-
mental attitude continues there is every reason for
encouragement. Continental public opinion, espe-
cially in questions of foreign policy, certainly seems
more pliable than ever before, and is as clay in the
hands of a potter, so far as alliances and sympathies
are concerned, when following a popular monarch or
foreio:n minister.
The Institute The Institute of International Law and similar

of Interna- . . i r , • • i • •

tionaiLaw. Organizations may be oi great service m popularizing
the subject, and in perfecting the details of practice

. eucourage-


before the International Court. Much will, moreover, Chapter vni
depend upon the attitude of the professors of Inter-
national Law at the various universities. The cooper-
ation of some of the highest academical authorities
upon'the subject at The Hague, may tend to save the
entire work from attacks or indifference based upon
personal j)rejudices or professional jealousies, which
might have arisen if the treaty had been elaborated
only by diplomats.

In conclusion the author can only remind those Reasons for
whose pessimism is proof against all the signs of meat,
promise contained in the story told in this volume, of
the best and most reasonable ground for encourage-
ment as to the future, namely : the record of what
has even now been accomplished. Any one who would
have predicted^ even as late as July, 1898, that a
Conference would meet and accomplish even a frac-
tion of the results attained at The Hague, — that the
subject of a federation of the civilized world for
justice would even be discussed, not by enthu-
siasts and private individuals, but by leading diplo-
mats of all civilized nations, called together for that
purpose by the most powerful autocrat in the world,
— would have been regarded as a dreamer, if not as
demented. At the beginning of the Conference the
members themselves were affected by the prevalent
scepticism, suspicion, and discouragement. It was,
however, most interesting to observe how, from week
to week, and almost from day to day, this feeling
gave way to a spirit of hope, of mutual confidence,
and of pride at participating in what w^as at once a


Chapter VIII gruiid consiimiTiation and an auspicious beginning.
It is not too much to hope that this spirit fore-
shadowed the ultimate judgment of history.

Conclusion. No ouc cau be more conscious of the incomplete-
ness and imperfections of the work of the Peace
Conference than the members of that body, who can
at least claim that they have labored faithfully to
approach a high ideal. No temporary disappointment,
misunderstanding, or discouragement can obscure the
fundamental truth which the Peace Conference and
its results, as indeed all human history, tends to illus-
trate, a truth upon which all human institutions and
endeavors and the nations themselves must forever
rest : —







La Conference Internationale de la Paix, convoquee
dans un haut sentiment d'liumanite par Sa Majeste I'Em-
pereur de Toutes les Russies, s'est reunie, sur Tinvitation
du Gouvernement de Sa Majeste la Reine des Pays-
Bas, a la Maison Royale du Bois a La Haye, le 18 Mai,

Les Puissances, dont Tenumeration suit, ont pris part
a la Conference, pour laquelle elles avaient designe les
Delegues nommes ci-apres : —


Dans une serie de reunions, tenues du 18 Mai au 29
Juillet, 1899, oil les Delegues precites ont ete constam-
ment animes du desir de realiser, dans la plus large mesure
possible, les vues genereuses de I'auguste Initiateur de la
Conference et les intentions de leurs Gouvernements, la
Conference a arrete, pour etre soumis a la signature des
Plenipotentiaires, le texte des Conventions et Declarations
enumerees ci-apres et annexees au present Acte : —

I. Convention pour le reglement pacifique des confiits

II. Convention concernant les lois et coutumes de la
guerre sur terre.

III. Convention pour I'adaptation a la guerre maritime
des principes de la Convention de Geneve du 22 Aout,



The International Peace Conference, convoked in the
best interests of humanity by His Majesty the Emperor
of All the Russias, assembled on the invitation of the
Government of Her Majesty the Queen of the Nether-
lands in the Royal House in the Wood at The Hague, on
the 18th May, 1899.

The Powers enumerated in the following list took part
in the Conference, to which they appointed the Delegates
named l)elow : —


In a series of meetings, between the 18th May and the
29th July, 1899, in which the constant desire of the Dele-
gates above mentioned has been to realize, in the fullest
manner possible, the generous views of the august Initiator
of the Conference and the intentions of their Govern-
ments, the Conference has agreed, for submission for
signature by the Plenipotentiaries, on the text of the
Conventions and Declarations enumerated below and
annexed to the present Act : —

I. Convention for the peaceful adjustment of inter-
national differences.

II. Convention regarding the laws and customs of war
by land.

III. Convention for the adaptation to maritime war-
fare of the principles of the Geneva Convention of the
22d August, 1864.



IV. Trois Declarations concernant : —

1. L'interdiction de lancer des projectiles et des explo-
sifs du liaut de ballons on par d'autres modes analogues

2. L'interdiction de Femploi des projectiles qui ont
pour but unique de repandre des gaz asphyxiants ou

3. L'interdiction de Temploi de balles qui s'epanouissent
ou s'aplatissent facilement dans le corps humain, telles que
les balles a enveloppe dure dont I'enveloppe ne couvrirait
pas entierement le noyau ou serait pourvue d'incisions.

Ces Conventions et Declarations formeront autant
d'Actes separes. Ces Actes porteront la date de ce jour
et pourront etre signes jusqu'au 31 Decembre, 1899, par
les Plenipotentiaires des Puissances representees a la
Conference Internationale de la Paix a La Haye.

Obeissant aux memes inspirations, la Conference a
adopte a I'unanimite la Resolution suivante : —

"La Conference estime que la limitation des charges
militaires qui pesent actuellement sur le monde est grande-
ment desirable pour I'accroissement du bien-etre materiel
et moral de I'humanite."

Elle a, en outre, emis les voeux suivants : —

1. La Conference, prenant en consideration les de-
marches preliminaires faites par le Gouvernement Federal
Suisse pour la revision de la Convention de Geneve, emet
le voeu qu'il soit procede a bref delai a la reunion d'une
Conference speciale ayant pour objet la revision de cette

Ce vceu a ete vote a I'unanimite.

2. La Conference emet le vreu que la question des
droits et des devoirs des neutres soit inscrite an programme
d'une prochaine Conference.

3. La Conference emet le va?u que les questions rela-
tives aux fusils et aux canons de marine, telles qu'elles


IV. Three Declarations : —

1. To prohibit the hiunching of projectiles and explo-
sives from balloons or by otlier similar new methods. .

2. To prohibit the use of projectiles, the only object
of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious

3. To prohibit the use of bullets which expand or flatten
easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard
envelope, of which the envelope does not entirely cover
the core, or is pierced with incisions.

These Conventions and Declarations shall form so
many separate Acts. These Acts shall be dated this
day, and may be signed up to the 31st December, 1899,
by the Plenipotentiaries of the Powers represented at the
International Peace Conference at The Hague.

Guided by the same sentiments, the Conference has
adopted unanimously the following Resolution : —

" The Conference is of opinion that the restriction of
military charges, which are at present a heavy burden on
the world, is extremel}^ desirable for the increase of the
material and moral welfare of mankind."

It has, besides, formulated the following wishes : —

1. The Conference, taking into consideration the pre-
liminary steps taken by the Swiss Federal Government
for the revision of the Geneva Convention, expresses the
wish that steps may be shortly taken for the assembly of
a Special Conference having for its object the revision of
that Convention.

This wish was voted unanimously.

2. The Conference expresses the wish that the ques-
tions of the rights and duties of neutrals may be inserted
in the programme of a Conference in the near future.

3. The Conference expresses the wish that the ques-
tions with resfard to ritics and naval cfuns, as considered


out ete examinees j)ar elle, soieiit niises ;i Tetude par les
Gouvernements, en vue d'arriver a une entente concer-
nant la mise en usage de nouveaux types et calibres.

4. La Conference emet le voeu que les Gouvernements,
tenant compte des propositions faites dans la Conference,
mettent a Tetude la possibilite d'une entente concernant
la limitation des forces armees de terre et de mer et des
budgets de guerre.

5. La Conference emet le voeu que la proposition ten-
dant a declarer Finviolabilite de la propriete privee dans
la guerre sur mer soit renvoyee a I'examen d'une Confer-
ence ulterieure.

6. La Conference emet le voeu que la proposition de
regler la question du bombardement des ports, villes, et
villages par une force navale soit renvoyee a Texamen
d'une Conference ulterieure.

Les cinq derniers voeux out ete votes a runanimite, sauf
quelques abstentions.

En foi de quoi, les Plenipotentiaires out signe le present
Acte, et y out appose leurs cachets.

Fait a La Haye, le 29 Juillet, 1899, en un seul exem-
plaire, qui sera depose au Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres,
et dont des copies, certifiees conformes, seront delivrees a
toutes les Puissances representees a la Conference.



Sa Majeste I'Empereur d'AUemagne, Roi de Prusse ;
Sa Majeste TEmpereur^d'Autriche, Roi de Boheme, etc., et

Online LibraryFrederick William HollsThe peace conference at The Hague, and its bearings on international law and policy → online text (page 26 of 39)