Frederick William Holls.

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

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the shocking power of the bullet is to be increased



The amend-
ment more

Chapter III at all, and we may be sure that if found necessary
Speech of it Avill be doiie in one way or another, what more
humane method can be imagined than to have it
simply increase its size in a regular manner ? But
this is forbidden, and consequently there is great
danger of some more cruel method coming into use,
when there will not be a Conference ready to forl)id
it. There is always danger in attempting to cover
a principle by the specification of details, for the
latter can generally be avoided and the principle be
thus violated.

" It has been stated in the Committee that the
language of my proposition is too vague, and that
little would be left of the article voted if it were to
be amended in accordance therewith ; but in reality
it is much the more restrictive of the two, for the
Committee's proposition, instead of covering the
principle, touches it at one point only, and, in
the effort to catch a single detail of construction,
has left the door open to everything else which
ingenuity may be able to suggest. It has been
squarely stated that the Duin Dam bullet is the
one at which the prohibition is aimed. I have no
commission for the defence of the Dum Dum bullet,
about which I know nothing except what I have
heard upon this floor, but we are asked to sit in
judgment upon it, and for this purpose it would
seem that some evidence is desirable ; none, how-
ever, has been presented. Colonel Gilinsky, who,
to his honor and that of his Government, has done
here so much hard work in the cause of humanity,


believes that in two wars this bullet has shown Chapter iii
itself to be such as to inflict wounds of great cruelty ;
but no facts have been presented which might lead
us to share his opinions. The only alleged evidence
of which we have heard at all is that of the Tlibingen
experiments and the asserted similarity of the bullet
used therein with the Dum Dum, and this the British
delegate has himself been obliged to luring in, in order
that he might deny it. Let nie call attention, how-
ever, to the fact that under my proposed amendment
the Dum Dum bullet receives no license, and, if
guilty, does not escape, but falls under the prohibi-
tion, provided a case can be made out against it.

" We are all animated with the common desire to
prevent rather than to rail against the employment
of weapons of useless cruelty, and for the efficiency
of such prevention I ask whether it would not be
better to secure the support of domestic public opin-
ion in a country by the presentation to its Govern-
ment of a case, supported by evidence, against any
military practice, than to risk arousing a national
senthnent in support of the practice by a condem-
nation of it without proof that the condemnation is
deserved ?

" The Conference is now approaching an end, and
this subject is the only one of actual practice upon
which there is division. The division is decided ; it
is even acute, and it operates to destroy all value of
the action taken. I therefore ask even those gentle-
men who may not have been convinced of the improve-
ment in humane restrictiveness, which the article


Chapter III woulcl acqiuue from the proposed amendment, to
vote for it, in order that something may be secured,
instead of the nothing which would result from the
status quo.''
Ineffective The rcpHcs to Captain Crozier's remarks in the

rep les. ^^^^^ Conference, on the part of Colonel Gilinsky and

General Den Beer Poortugael, were singularly ineffec-
tive, being confined to protestations that no mention
was made or intended to be made of the Dum Dum
bullet, and the curious contention that the amend-
ment ought not to be voted on before the principal
jDroposition. Captain Crozier, in reply, read from
the report of General Den Beer Poortugael the state-
ment that his Government had charged him with
urging the formal prohibition of the use of Dum
Dum bullets and similar projectiles. He w^nt on to
say that, contrary to the intention of its authors, the
Committee's proposition was rather a prohibition of
the use of the smaller calibre rifle than that of a use-
lessly cruel bullet, and he asked of Colonel Gilinsky
whether he as a military man wished to be under-
stood as declaring positively that it was impossible
to manufacture a bullet which would expand, without
being irregular, and in such a manner as to produce
a wound of useless cruelty.
Objections of Captain Crozier stated that to the article as it
CrSrl stood lie had three objections : first, it prohibited the
use of all expanding bullets, without reference to the
fact that it might be desirable in the future to adopt
a musket of still smaller calibre in conjunction with
a bullet which would expand regularly to a some-


wheat larger size. Second, that by this interdiction Chapter iii
it might force people to the employment of a missile
of a more cruel character not forbidden by the article;
and thirdly, that it condemned the Duni Dum bullet
without evidence against it.

In regard to the manner of taking the vote, Captain The manner of
Crozier recalled that in the Committee priority had vote."
been refused to his amendment for the reason, as he
supposed, that the customary practice in the Confer-
ence seemed to be to put the most radical proposition
first, with the idea that its adoption would wipe out
the subsidiary propositions, and thus save the time
necessary for voting upon the latter. He admitted
that this method had its merits, so far as quick de-
spatch of business was concerned, but stated that
there were cases in which another element was more
important than haste in the despatch of business,
and this was that all members should have an oppor-
tunity of recording in the most efficient manner,
namely, by their votes, their opinion in regard to
the propositions under consideration. This oppor-
tunity was absolutely prevented by the refusal to
give priority to his amendment, it being apparently
not understood that whatever the result of the vote
upon the amendment, a second vote would be taken
upon the proposition, amended or not amended, as
the case might be, and that the two votes thus taken
together would record positively the opinion of every
member upon the subject.

It is a significant and characteristic fact that a
proposition of parliamentary law, which is as familiar


Chapter III as tho alphabet to every member of the various
Absence of school-boj societiesin America, and the justice of
fary Jaw'^or which is self-eviclent, namely : that an amendment
practice. ^^ ^ substitute uiust be voted on before the original
proposition is put to a vote, was not only unfamiliar
to most of the European members of the Peace Con-
ference, but was seriously disputed, and the contrary
rule adopted by an overwhelming majority.
The American The rcsult was that the American amendment was
ntTv^er voted ucvcr put to a votc, and although in this particular
^^' instance there is every reason to believe that the

amendment would have been rejected, even if the
fundamental principles of parliamentary law and
justice had been observed, the incident is highly in-
Lessons of the structivc, in that it proves the absolute necessity, in
future assemblies of this character, of at least a mini-
mum in the way of ordinary rules of procedure.

During the discussion it was stated by Captain
Crozier that the United States had no intention of
using any bullet of the prohibited class, being entirely
satisfied with the one now employed, which is in the
same class as those in common use. A similar dec-
laration was made on behalf of Germany by General
von Schwarzhoff.
Motion to Ambassador White, after supporting Captain

th?cora-^^° Crozier's contentions, proposed in the interests of
mittee. hamiony that the entire subject should be referred

back to the First (Committee, to see if a formula
could not be found upon which all parties would
agree. This proposition was rejected by twenty
votes against five — the latter being the United


States of America, Denmark, Great Britain, Greece, chapter iii
and Portugal. Luxemburg did not vote.

On the question whether the American amendment
should be voted on before the original proposition,
seventeen states voted, " No " and eight, namely :
the United States of America, Belgium, China, Den-
mark, Great Britain, Greece, Portugal, and Servia,
voted in the affirmative — Luxemburg again not

Lord Pauncefote, at the same meeting, gave notice British Dechi-
that he would submit a declaration on the same sub-
ject on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, which he
would request to have spread upon the minutes in
extenso. In view of the action taken, however, he
subsequently withdrew this request. The declaration
itself, however, which in printed in the British Blue
Book (Miscellaneous No. 1, 1899, p. 118) is given
below. ^

^" Wlien Her Majesty's Government, following the example set by
other Powers, introduced the small-bore rifle, they adopted at the same
time a bullet entirely covered by a hard envelope.

" Previous to the introduction of the small-bore rifle, there was no
covering or envelope of any sort to the leaden bullets used with all
rifles by every nation. The hard envelope was not introduced for
humanitarian purposes, but because it was found to be necessary with
the rapid twist of rifling of the small-bore rifle, in order to prevent the
grooves becoming choked with lead.

" Experience with this bullet in the Chitral Campaign of 1805
proved that it had not sufficient stopping power, that the bullet drilled
through a bone and did not fracture it, that at close quarters the injury
was insufficient to cause immediate shock, and that when soft tissues
only were struck, the amount of damage was comparatively trivial.

" It was proved that the enemy expressed contempt for the weapon,
as compared with that previously in use ; and numerous cases were


ciiaiitcriii There can be little doubt that history will vindi-
cate the position taken by the United States of
America and Great Britain on this subject. No

brouglit to light in which men struck by these bullets were not pre-
vented from remaining in action.

" Under these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government ordered
experiments to be undertaken with the object of obtaining a bullet
•which should possess equal stopping power effect with that of the rifle
of larger calibre. The Committee which investigated the question
recommended two bullets, one of which was proved to make Jiiore
severe wounds than the other : Her Majesty's Government, however,
rejected the one making the more severe wounds, and decided to adopt
the less destructive bullet, now known as Mark IV. pattern, as giving
the minimum of stopping effect necessary.

" This bullet has a small cylindrical cavity in the head, over which
the hard metal envelope is turned down.

" There is nothing new in this cavity in the head of the bullet. It
existed in the Snider bullet, with which Her Majesty's troops were
armed for many years — a bullet which was perfectly well known to all
the Powers of Europe, which was actually in use in Her Majesty's army
at the date of the St. Petej-sburg Convention of 1868, and to which,
nevertheless, no objection was ever raised on humanitarian grounds.

" The Indian Government for the same reasons adopted the so-
called Dum Dum bullet, in which a very small portion of the head
of the leaden bullet is not covered by the hard metal envelope.

" Her Majesty's Government are unable to admit that a bullet which
has been deliberately adopted by them as possessing the mininmm of
destructive effect necessary, can be considered as inflicting unneces-
sary suffering ; and in view of the fact that until recently all rifles of
all Powers flred bullets consisting entirely of lead without a covering,
and that the bullet with a cavity in the head was the bullet in use in
Her Majesty's army at the date of the St. Petersburg Convention, and
for many years subsequently, they are equally unable to admit that
there is anything in either the exposure of a small portion of lead or
the existence of a cavity, to justify the condemnation of either of these
methods of construction.

" The experiments conducted in this country lead to the conclusion
that the wounds inflicted by these bullets are not more severe than —
if so severe as — the wounds inflicted by the larger bullets fired from


attempt was made to meet their arguments on the chapter in
merits, and the best that can be hoped for is, that
the decision of the Conference may not eventually
defeat its own object.

Methods of Naval Warfahe

The propositions included in the fourth paragraph
of the circular of Count MouraviefE were as follows :

''l. The prohibition of the use, in naval battles,
of submarine and diving torpedo boats, or all other
asrencies of destruction of the same nature. 2. An
agreement not to construct in the future warships
armed with rams."

These subjects were referred to a special naval
sub-committee, presided over by Jonkheer A. P. C.
van Karnebeek of the Netherlands, the Vice-President
of the Conference.

Captain Scheine, on behalf of the Russian Govern- Limitation of
ment, submitted a proposal respecting naval guns and ^^ ^^^'^'
armor, to the effect that the Powers should for the
period of five years agree to limit the calibre of their
guns to seventeen inches, the initial velocity to
thirteen thousand feet a second, and the length of

previous ritles ; therefore, Her Majesty's Government, while entirely
sympathizing with the desire to avoid the use of missiles which inflict
wounds of unnecessary severity, are unable to admit that this is
involved by either of the above metliods of construction. It is, how-
ever, their intention to pursue their investigations, and to spare no
pains in order to combine with the necessary amount of stopping
power the minimum aggravation of suffering on the part of the
wounded, but they consider it absolutely essential that such stopping
power should exist in the bullet employed by Iler Majesty's troops."


ChaptiT III guns to fortj'-five calibres ; further, tliat armor
should be liuiited to fourteen inches of tlie latest
Krupp pattern.

This proposition was received by all the naval
representatives ad refenrndum^ with the result that it
was almost unanimously negatived. The United
States and British Governments both rejected it by
cable very promptly.

Rams. Upon tlic proposal not to construct warships

armed with rams, a majority of the Governments
represented declared their readiness to enter such an
agreement provided it were unanimous. Unanimity
was, however, frustrated by the declarations of the
delegates from Germany, Austria-Hungary, Denmark,
Sweden and Norway, to the effect that their Gov-
ernments did not approve of the idea.

New types Upou the subjcct of riflcs and naval guns, and the

and calibres -i •!•, <• ^ j.* xi i

of naval guns, po'^sibility 01 au agreement respectmg the employ-
ment of new types and calibres, a brief discussion
showed that the utmost result attainable upon the
subject was the expression of a wish, which was
adopted, that the question should be relegated to the
further study of the Governments.
Projectiles for Tlic propositioii that the Contracting Powers agree
orasphyxiat- ^"^ abstain from the use of projectiles, the object of
which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious
gases, was adopted, with only one dissenting vote —
that of the United States of America, and one vote
conditioned upon unanimity — that of Great Britain.
The distinguished representative of the United
States of America on the naval sub-committee.

ins <;ases.


Captain Mahan, gave the following reasons for Chaptor ni
voting against this provision, and they were inserted
in the report of the proceedings of the Committee : —

"1. That no shell emitting; such p-ases is as yet Captain

, f . Mahan's

in })ractical use or has undergone adequate experi- objections,
ment ; consequently, a vote taken now would be
taken in ignorance of the facts as to whether the
results would be of a decisive character, or whether
injury in excess of that necessary to attain the end
of warfare, of immediately disabling the enemy,
would be inflicted.

" 2. That the reproach of cruelty and perfidy
addressed against these supposed shells w\as equally
uttered formerly against firearms and torpedoes,
although each are now employed without scruple.
Until we know the effects of such asphyxiating
shells, there was no saying whether they would be
more or less merciful than missiles now permitted.

" 3. That it was illogical and not denionstral)ly
humane, to be tender about asphyxiating men with
gas, when all were prepared to admit that it was
allowable to blow the bottom out of an ironclad at
midnio;ht, throwini*; four or five hundred men into
the sea to be choked by water, with scarcely the
remotest chance of escape. If, and when, a shell
emitting asphyxiating gases has been successfully
produced, then, and not before, will men be able to
vote intelligently on the subject."

"Whatever views may be held upon the merits of
the various propositions considered by the First
Committee, there can be no question as to the great


Chapter III viilue of tliG deliberations themselves. Professional
authorities may be relied upon to continue the work
of investigation and discussion begun at The Hague,
to the great advantage, no doubt, of that " further
study on the part of the various Governments,"
which the Peace Conference was obliged to content
itself in recommending.



I. The Convention for the Adaptation to Mari-
time Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva
Convention of August 22, 1864

The Second Committee of the Conference, to which
was referred the subject of the extension of the prin-
ciples of the Geneva Convention of August 22, 1864,
to maritime warfare, referred the subject to its First
Sub-Committee, presided over by M. Asser of the
Netherlands, and this in turn appointed a Committee
consisting of Professor Renault of France, Chairman
and Reporter, Vice-Admiral Sir John Fisher of Great
Britain, Captain Scheine of Russia, Captain Siegel of
Germany, Lieutenant-Colonel tt Court of Great Brit-
ain, and Lieutenant Ovtchinnikow of Russia, Avhich
elaborated the articles embodied in the treaty on the

In his report to the Conference, Professor Renault
uses the following language : —

"The general ideas which guided us are as fol- Report of
lows: We considered it necessary to confine our- Ken.-uiiT^
selves to the study of essential principles, and not to
enter into details of organization and of regulations,
which each State must fix according; to its interests



Chai)t(M- IV and its cuytoins. We deteniiined the legal status
Ri'poit of tVoni the international point of view of hospital

ProtVssor -^ . • c

Renault. sliips ; — biit liow are such ships to be provided for ?
What shall be the duty of ships belonging to the
State as distinguished from those l^elonging to relief
societies ? Should even such ships as are furnished
by individuals for hospital service during a war be
considered ? These are questions which should be
determined by each Government. They are not sus-
ceptible of a uniform solution Ijecause the situations
are too diverse. In all countries the force of private
charity may prove to be more or less active ; besides,
however much we may be animated by sentiments of
humanity, we must not forget tlie necessities of Avar.
It is necessary to avoid results, inspired, no doubt, by
most generous sentiments, but exposed to the risk of
frequent disregard by Ijelligerents, because the lat-
ter's freedom of action may be unduly impaired.
Humanity does not gain much by the adoption of a
rule which remains a dead letter, and the idea of
respect for engagements would only be enfeebled
thereby. It is, therefore, indispensably necessary to
impose no obligations except such as can be fulfilled
under all circumstances, and otherwise to allow the
combatants all the latitude which they require. It
is to be hoped that this will never be used for the
purpose of hindering uselessly the work of alleviat-
ing suffering."

The representative of the United States on the
sub-committee of the Second Committee of the Con-
ference was Captain Alfred T. Mahan, whose careful


and lucid report regarding the work of the sub-coin- chapter iv
mittee and his own attitude is deserving of special
attention. It will be found in full in the Appendix.
The articles of the treaty are as follows : —

Article 1. Military h(js})ital shi})s, that is to say, oiiiciai
ships constructed or assigned hy States especially and ^^^^p**^^^^"1'*^-
solely for the ])ur])ose of assisting the wounded, sick,
or shipwrecked, and the names of which shall have
been communicated to the belligerent Powers at the
commencement or duringi: the course of hostilities,
and in any case before they are employed, shall be
respected, and cannot be captured while hostilities
last. These ships, moreover, are not on the same
footing as men-of-war as regards their stay in a
neutral port.

Article 2. Hospital ships equipped solely or in Hospital ships
part by the moneys of private individuals, or officially ®''}"i'p'^ ^Y-

• 1 T e • /• 1 n Ti • 1 "^ private indi-

recognized reliei societies, sliall likewise be respected viduais or
and exempt from cai^ture, provided the bellio:erent^^l''^^,f."'''**^''"^

i 1111 • 1 of belligereut

rower to whom they belong has given them an powers,
official commission, and has notified their names to
the opposing Power at the commencement of or dur-
ing hostilities, and in any case before they are em-
ployed. These ships must be furnished with a
certificate from the proper authorities declaring that
they had been under their control while fitting out,
and on final departure.

AirncLE 3. Hospital ships ecpiipped whollv or in Hospital ships
part at the cost of private individuals or officially i;;;;'/;;;;"!';;...
recognized societies of neutral countries, shall be re- tries,
spected and exempt from capture, if the neutral
Power to whom the}^ belong has given them an offi-
cial commission and notified their names to the


ciiaptcr IV l)o]li,ii'C'rent Powers at the commencement or during
hostilities, and in any case before they are employed.

Rt-uiatioiis Article 4. The ships mentioned in Articles 1, 2,
''''";''''"I"", and .") shall furnish relief and assistance to the

illl Imspital ^ -I r ^ ^ ^^•

ships. wounded, sick, and shipwrecked oi the belligerents

of either nationality. The Governments engage not
to use these ships for any military purpose. These
ships must not in any way hamper the movements of
the combatants during and after an engagement ;
they shall act at their own risk and peril. The
bellio-erents shall have the right to control and visit
them ; they can decline their aid, order them off,
compel them to take a certain course and put a
commissioner on board ; they can even detain them
if important circumstances require it. As far as
possible, the belligerents shall inscribe in the sailing
papers of the hospital ships such orders as they may
give them.

The proposition to establish a particular code of
signals for ships requesting or offering aid was nega-
tived by the Committee, upon the ground that the
accepted international code of signals now adopted
by all seafaring nations is sufficient for all practical

In the words of Professor Renault, reporter of the
Committee, regarding the prohibition of the use of
these ships for military purposes : " The States enter
into an engagement of honor by the very fact of their
marking the vessels. It would be perfidy to violate
this engagement."

An instance of " important circumstances " justify-
ing the detention of a hospital ship on the part of

Online LibraryFrederick William HollsThe peace conference at The Hague, and its bearings on international law and policy → online text (page 9 of 39)