Frederick William Holls.

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

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twelve to nine — the majority being made up of Ger- chapter iii
many, United States of America, Austria-Hungary,
Denmark, Spain, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan,
Roumania, Sweden and Norway, and Turkey.

On the subject of field guns, the proposition was Field guns,
for the Powers to agree that no field material should
be adopted of a model superior to the best material
now in use in any country — those countries having
material inferior to the best now in use retaining the
privilege of adopting such best material. This propo-
sition was rejected by a inianimous vote, witli the
exception of two abstentions, namely : Russia and

On the subject of balloons, the sub-committee first Tiuowins
voted a 23erpetual prohibition of their use, or that of explosives
similar new machines, for throwing projectiles qj. ^''om balloons,
explosives. In the full Committee, on motion of
Captain Crozier, the prohibition was unanimously
limited to cover a period of five years only. The
action taken w^as for humanitarian reasons alone,
and was founded upon the opinion that balloons, as
they now exist, form so uncertain a means of injury,
that they cannot be used with accuracy. The per-
sons or objects injured by throwing explosives may
be entirely disconnected from the conflict, and such
that their injury or destruction would be of no prac-
tical advantage to the party making use of the ma-
chines. The limitation of the prohibition to five
years' duration preserves liberty of action inider such
changed circumstances as may be produced by the
progress of invention.


Chapter III Regarding muskets, the Russian i:)roposition was
Muskets and tliat uo Powers should change their existing type of
small arms. This proposition differed essentially
from the one regarding field guns, which permitted
all Powers to adopt the most perfect material now in
existence; the reason for the difference was explained
by the Russian representative, to be, that, whereas
there was a great difference in the excellence of field
artillery material now in use in the different coun-
tries, that they all adopted substantially the same
musket, and ])eing on an equal footing, the present
would be a good time to cease making changes. The
object of the proposition was stated to l)e purely eco-
nomical. It was explained that the prohibition to
adopt a new type of musket was not intended to pre-
vent the improvement of existing types ; but this
immediately called forth a discussion as to what con-
stituted a type, and what improvements might be
made without falling nnder the prohibition of not
changing it. Efforts were made to cover this point
by specifying details, snch as initial velocity, weight
of the projectiles, etc., also l)y a proposition to limit
the time for which the prohibition should hold, but
no agreement could be secured.
The attitude Captain Crozicr, on behalf of the United States of
of the United America, stated early in the discussion the attitude of

States " '^

toward such America, namely : that it did not consider limitations

questions. . . . . . ,

in regard to the use of military inventions to be con-
ducive to the peace of the world, and for that reason
propositions for such a limitation would not gener-
ally be supported h\ the iVmerican representatives.


A separate vote was taken on the question whether Chapter in
the Powers should agree not to make use of auto- Automatic
matic muskets. In the words of Captain Crozier, '""'^'^^'*''"
"As this may be taken as a fair example of the class
of improvements which, although they may have
reached such a stage as to be fairly before the world,
have not yet been adopted by any nation, an analysis
of the vote taken upon it may be interesting as show-
ing the attitude of the different Powers in regard to
such questions." The States voting in favor of the
prohibition were, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Nether-
lands, Persia, Russia, Siam, Switzerland, and Bulgaria,
(9). Those voting against it were, Germany, United
States of America, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain,
Italy, Sweden and Norway, (G). Those abstaining
were, France, Japan, Portugal, Roumania, Servia,
and Turkey, (6). From this statement it may be
seen that none of the Great Powers, except Russia,
w^as willing to accept restrictions in regard to mili-
tar}^ improvements, when the question of increase of
efficiency was involved, and that OY\\y one great
Power, France, abstained from expressing an opinion
upon the subject.

In the full Committee, after the failure of another
effort to secure the adoption of the proposition, it was
agreed that the subject should be relegated to the
future consideration of the different Governments.

The question was also raised as to whether there New methods
should be an}^ agreement in regard to the use of new °
means of destruction, which might possibly have a
tendency to come into vogue — such as those depend-


Chapter III iiig upoii electricitj and chemistry. The Russian
representative declared that his Government was in
favor of prohibiting the use of all such instrumentali-
ties, because of the fact that the means of destruction
at present employed were quite sufficient ; but after
a short discussion this question was also put aside
for future consideration on the part of the different

Expanding Bullets

The subject of unnecessarily cruel bullets gave rise
to more active debate, and developed more radical
differences of opinion than any other considered by
the First Committee. The proposition which was
finally adopted is as follows : —

'' The use of bullets which expand or flatten easily
in the human body, such as jacketed bullets of which
the jacket does not entirely cover the core, or has in-
cisions in it, should be forbidden."

When this proposition was first presented to the

full Committee by the military sub-committee, on

June 22, Sir John Ardagh of Great Britain read the

following declaration : —

Declaration of " I ask pemiissiou to offcr to the High Assembly

Great Britaiu . , i i •

as to Bum somc obscrvatious and explanations on the subject
which has already been voted upon — the question
of bullets. In the session of May 31, an article
was accepted by a large majority, against the use
of bullets with a hard jacket, of which the jacket
does not cover the entire core, but has incisions in
it. It seems to me that the use of words describintj;

Duiu bullets.


technical details of construction will have the effect chapter iii
of rendering the prohibition somewhat too general,
and result in its beino; disresrarded, and that it will
not seem to admit an exception for which I wish
to provide, namely: the construction, in the present
or in the future, of a projectile with a sufficient
force to stop an individual wdio has been hit and
to put him out of the struggle immediately, and
which thus fulfils the indispensable requirements
of war, without at all occasioning useless suffering.
The completely jacketed bullet of our Lee-Metford
rifle is deficient in this regard. It has been proven
that in one of our small wars in India a man per-
forated live times by these bullets was still capable
of walking to the English hospital at a considerable
distance for the purpose of having his wounds
dressed. After the battle of Omdurman, quite re-
cently, it was shown that the greater number of
the Dervishes who were wounded, but who had
still saved themselves by flight, had been hit by
small English bullets, at tlie same time when the
Remington and Martini bullets of the Egyptian
army were sufficient to put the soldier hors de com-
hat. It was necessary to And a more efficacious
means of warfare, and, with this object in view, the
projectile known under the name of the Dum DumTheDum
bullet was manufactured in India, at the arsenal of
that name near Calcutta. In the Dum Dum bullet,
the jacket ends by leaving a small piece of the
core uncovered. The effect of this modification is
to produce a certain extension or convexity of the


Chapter III poiiit, aiicl to givG a foFce iiiore pronounced than
ThoDiim that of the bullet which is completely jacketed, at
the same time, however, less effective than that of
the Enfield, Snider, or Martini bullets, all of which
have greater calibre. The wounds made by this
Dum Dum bullet suffice ordinarily to give a stop-
ping shock and to place a soldier Itors de combat,
but their effect is by no means calculated to cause
useless suffering.

" I wish to explain how the Dum Dum bullet
gained a bad reputation in Europe. It is on account
of certain experiments which were made with bullets
having a shortened jacket, which did not resemble,
in construction or in effect, the Dum Dum bullets.
I speak of the experiments made at Tubingen, by
Professor Bruns, of which a report was published in
the BeltrcKje zur Kluiischen Chirurgie, at Tiibingen, in
1898. The bullet which was used in these experi-
ments had a leaden point about one diameter longer
than the hard jacket, and, by consequence, the flat-
tening and extension when discharged was consid-
erable, and the wounds were excessively severe —
in fact, frightful. These experiments proved that
a bullet of which the flattened, leaden point is
entirely unprovided with a hard jacket works, in
a certain sense, like an explosive bullet, and pro-
duces a terrible effect ; but that cannot be accepted
as evidence against the Dum Dum bullet, which has
an entirely different construction and effect. At the
same time, it is a fact that the erroneous conception
formed in Europe about the character of the latter


is entirely due to can idea which is entirely false, Chapter ni
namely, that the two proiectiles are almost identical Erroneous

. , , . 11 • coneeptioa

in construction. Several niterpellations were made aimut the
in the English Parliament on the subject of the hnHlt. "™
Dum Dum bullet, and lately, on the 5th of Jinie,
the Secretary of State for India, in response to a
question about the Dum Dum bullet, declared that
the Government of Her Majesty could see no reason
to inquire of the Government of India regarding the
Dam Dum bullet, and he added that he would pre-
sent the House of Commons the reports of the
experiments with that projectile.

" It is hardly necessary to affirm that public opin-
ion in England would never sanction the employ-
ment of a projectile calculated to cause useless
sufferings, and that every projectile of this charac-
ter is condemned in advance ; but Ave claim the
right and we recognize the duty to furnish our
soldiers with a projectile upon the effect of which
they may rely — a bullet which will suffice to stop
a charge of the enemy and to put him hors de com-
bed immediately. Heretofore this result was accom-
plished by spherical bullets of the old muskets,
which had a diameter of twenty millimetres, by
the bullets of the Enfield, with fourteen millimetres,
and those of the Martini, with twelve millimetres.
No objection upon humanitarian grounds were ever
made against the bullets of these muskets. Our
present musket — the Lee-Metford — has a calibre
of only eight millimetres. The transverse section
of this bullet, which is entirely covered by a jacket,


ciiai.t.r III is only about one-half of that of the Martini bullet,
Krroiicous and oue-sixtli of the spherical bullet. It is, there-

(■(inct'ptioii - ••ill 1 1

about the fore, not surprisnig that they produce so much
bullet. "" lighter a shock. In fact, it has been clearly proven
that our bullet, which is completely jacketed and
which is now actuall}^ in use in the English army,
does not give snfhcient protection to our soldiers
against the charge of a determined enemy ; and
we desire to reserve our entire liberty on the sub-
ject of modifications, to be introduced in the con-
struction of either the jacket or the core, for the
purpose of producing a shock necessary to place a
soldier Itors de combat without occasioning an aggra-
vation of useless suffering. This is our point of
view, and for this reason w^e cannot accept the
wording of the prohibition voted by the majority
of the committee on the first reading, and which
imposes a technical limit of details of construction.
At the same time, I wish to repeat that we are
completely in accord with the humanitarian prin-
ciples announced in the Convention of St. Peters-
burg, and that we undertake to observe them, not
only according to the letter, but according to the
spirit, in seeking the model we shall adopt.

'^ I can assure this High Assembly that it is very
disagreeable to me to find myself compelled by the
reasons which I have just given to vote against a
formula inspired by principles with wdiich I am in
hearty accord, but I still have the hope that it w^ill
be possible to adopt by unanimous vote a wording
which shall leave aside technical details and those of


construction, but which shall confirm the prmciples Chapter ni
upon which we are all agreed — the principles set
forth in the Convention of St. Petersburg, namely :
the prohibition of the use of bullets with the effect
of aggravating uselessly the sufferings of soldiers
hors de cotiibat or of rendering their death inevi-

Captain Crozier supported the position of Sir John Captain
Ardagh, and deprecated the attempt to cover the Ameudment.
principle of prohibition of bullets producing unneces-
sarily cruel wounds by specification of details of con-
struction of the bullets, and he proposed the following
formula as an amendment : —

" The use of bullets inflicting wounds of useless
cruelty, such as explosive bullets, and in general
every kind of bullets which exceeds the limit neces-
sary for placing a man hors de combat, should be

The committee however adhered to the orio;inal
proposition, without even voting upon the amend-
ment proposed by Captain Crozier, the vote standing
twenty to two — the latter being Great Britain and
the United States of America, and one abstention
(Portugal). China, Mexico, and Luxemburg were
not represented on the committee.

With a view to securing unanimity, if possible. Discussion
on this subject, an informal meeting took place onJonkScrvan
Julv 8, at the Hotel des Indes between Jonkheer ^''^'"^^'^''^

^ and the

van Karnebeek, the reporter of the committee which British
dealt with arms and explosives, and Lord Paunce-
fote. Sir Henry Howard, Sir John Ardagh, and



Chapter III Coloiiel a Court, the immediate object being to
Disoiissioii discuss the form of the report and the manner in
.loiikhecr van which it was to bc dealt with by the Conference/
Karnebeek Jonkhccr Van Kamebcek thought that the pro-
British hibition of expanding; bullets miy-ht be put in the
form of additional Articles to the St. Petersburg

He pointed out that as that Convention was only
binding upon the signatory and acceding States, it
was not applicable to the savage warfare in which
Great Britain and other States were frequently en-
gaged, and it would not debar the use of projectiles
of a most effective stopping character in those wars.
He also stated that he understood that the experts
were of opinion that what was gained in stopping
power was lost in penetrating power, and that the
Dutch troops, in savage warfare, attached importance
to the penetrating power, as it enabled the fully
mantled bullets to reach their foes beyond the shelter
of jungles and stockades, which, with the earlier form
of bullet, proved to be a protection which was not
penetrated ; and he said that the Dutch troops were
quite satisfied with their new fully mantled bullet.
He also urged that if the British Delegates acceded
to the prohibition A^oted by the majority, they would
only place themselves in exactly the same position
as the acceding Powers, if they should be at war
with any of them, and he laid great stress upon the
provisions contained in the last two paragraphs but

1 A full account of this meeting, by Sir John Ardagh, will be
found in the British Blue Book (Miscellaneous, No. 1, 1S99), p. 160.


one of the Convention of St. Petersburg to which thechapid- iii
prohibition would be cattached. lie hoped, tlierefore,
that the British Government might see fit to conform
to the views of the majority.

Lord Pauncefote repUed tliat his instructions did Adherence of

. (Ireat Brilaiii

not admit oi his acceding to the text ado])ted to tiu-
by the majority, which was a condemnation of pro-f,Iv"ive,i.
jectiles which British experts declared did not pro-
duce unnecessary suffering, and added that the
British Delegates had declared their entire adherence
to the humanitarian principles of the St. Petersburg

Sir John Ardagh said that it had been represented
by responsible officers that the present British fully
mantled bullet was not sufficient to stop a charge of
cavalry or a rush of fanatics, that even the savage
enemies of England looked on it with contempt, and
that the British military authorities were firmly con-
vinced that it was their duty to give the soldier an
arm on which he could rely. They were not alto-
gether satisfied with the modified bullets which had
been tried, and intended to make further experi-
ments, with a view to producing a bullet which shall
comply with the military as well as the humanitarian

There were several texts to which they were pre-
pared to accede. There was the Austrian text of
Colonel Khuepach, the American text of Captain
Crozier, the text comprised in the last paragraph of
Sir John Ardagh's declaration, and the language of
the Convention of St. Petersburg ; but to the actual


ciiupter 111 text, as voted, he thouglit it was most improbable
that their Government could — even with the argu-
ments and limitations of Jonkheer van Karnebeek —
be persuaded to agree.

Sir Henry Howard suggested that the Report might
state that it had been found impossible to arrive at
unanimity on the text which had been voted by the
majority, l)ut that all were agreed upon the accept-
ance of the humanitarian principle enunciated in the
other texts which had Ijeen considered.

Jonkheer van Karnebeek said that in his position
as Reporter, he was bound to give prominence to
the vote of the majority.
Disagreement Lord Pauucefotc thanked Jonkheer van Karne-
of statement, bcck for the paius which he had taken in endeavor-
ing to reconcile divergent views, and promised to
lay his suggestions before Her Majesty's Govern-
ment. He could not, however, under his present
instructions, hold out any hope of withdrawal from
the position which they maintained, and he feared
that persistence in adhering to the text voted by the
majority, when the matter came before the Plenary
Conference, would result in Her Majesty's Govern-
ment refusing to accede — not on the ground of prin-
ciple, for in that they were all in accord — l3ut on
account of these technical details of construction
which might prove, both now and in the future,
extremely embarrassing to those who were endeavor-
ing to solve this difficult problem.

Captain Crozier, with the approval of the Ameri-
can Commission, and in its name, proposed to the


full Conference, at its session on July 21, the above- Chapter iii
mentioned formula as an amendment to the propo- Further
sition suljmitted by the First Committee, for thel'ji'pt'aiil""""
reason that the record liad Ijeen left in a most un- \'""^"'!' "^ .


satisfactory state by the action of the Committee —
Great Britain and the United States appearing most
unjustly to oppose a proposition of humanitarian
intent, without indicating that the American Gov-
ernment not only stood ready to support, but had
even proposed by its representative, a formula which
was believed to meet the requirements of humanity
much better than the one adopted by the Committee.
In supporting his amendment Captain Crozier made
the following address : —

''The general principle touching the subject was Speech of
well stated at St. Petersburg in 1868, viz. . that justi-cr^^''*
fiable limits would be passed by 'the use of arms
which would aggravate uselessly the sufferings of men
already placed hors de comhat, or would render their
death inevitable.' The Convention of St. Petersburg
then proceded to declare the proscription of the only
violation of the principle then in view, i.e. the use
of explosive projectiles of weight below 400 grammes.

" It is now desired to extend the prohibition to
other than explosive bullets, having in view efforts
to increase the shock produced by the bullets of
small calil)res now in use, or of the still smaller
calibres which may come. In formulating the pro-
hibition, what is the object to be kept in view ?
Evidently to forbid everything, which, in the direc-
tion of cruelty, goes beyond necessity. And what



(•ii;ii.trr 111 is necessity? The declaration of St. Petersburg
Speech (.f saj's : ' It is sufficient to place Itors de combat the
crozier'. greatest number of men possible.' My honorable
colleague, the delegate from Russia, has stated here,
that, ^ the object of war is to put men Jiors de com-
hat.' For military men there can be but one answer
to the question, that the man hit by a bullet shall
be placed hors de combat; and with this object, and
the prohibition of everything beyond it in view, I
propose the amendment, Avhieli states directly what
is admissible and all that is admissible.

'•' It has also been stated that ' ordinary bullets
suffice to place hors de cowhat ' ; there are differences
of opinion as to this, as covering all cases. I can
speak of them freely because the United States are
satisfied wdtli their bullet, and see no reason for
changing it ; but whatever may be the case with the
bullets actually in use, no one can say what it will
be if the decrease of calibre, which the Conference
has not limited, shall continue. And here we see
the weak point of the article, which confines the
prohibition to a single class, viz. : bullets which
expand or flatten, and gives as illustration certain
details for construction : —
Criticism of " ' Tlic usc of bullcts wliicli cxpaud or flatten

the iirtii'le as .1 • i i it • ^ ^ ^ ^^

proposed. casily lu the human body, such as jacketed bullets,
of which the jacket does not entirely cover the core,
or contains incisions, should be forbidden.'

'• The advantages of the small calibre are ^vell
known, — flatter trajectory, greater danger space, less
recoil, and, particularly, less weight of ammunition ;


and if any nation shall consider them sufficiently Chapter in
great to wish to pass to a smaller calibre, which is
to be regarded as quite possible, her military experts
will at once occupy themselves witli a method of
avoiding the principal disadvantage — the absence
of shock produced by the bullet. In devising means
to increase the shock they will naturally examine
the prohibitions which have been imposed, and they
will lind that with the exception of the two classes,
viz. : explosive bullets and bullets which expand or
flatten, the field is entirely clear ; they will see that
they can avoid the forbidden detail of construction
by making a bullet with a large part of the covering
so thin as to be ineffective, and that they can avoid
altogether the proscril^ed classes by making a bullet
such that the point would turn easily to one side
upon entering the body, so as to cause it to turn end
over end, revolving about its shorter axis; — it is well
known how easily a rifle projectile can be made to
act in this way. Or by making one of such original
form as, without chang^ini'' it, would inflict a torn
wound. It is useless to give further examples. A
technical officer could spend an indefinite time in
suggesting designs of bullets, desperately cruel in
their effects, which, forbidden by the amendment
which I now propose, would be permitted under the
article as it conies from the Committee. In fact
they would be even more than permitted, for one
might be driven, in the effort to avoid the specified
class, to the adoption of another less humane. If

Online LibraryFrederick William HollsThe peace conference at The Hague, and its bearings on international law and policy → online text (page 8 of 39)