C. K. OGDEN
THE SOCIETY OF NATIONS
ITS PAST, PRESENT, AND
T. J. LAWRENCE, LL.D., J.P.
MEMBER OF THE INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW ;
HONORARY FELLOW OF DOWNING COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE;
READER IN INTERNATIONAL LAW IN THE UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL;
RECTOR OF UPTON LOVEL, WILTS ;
LATH LECTURER ON INTERNATIONAL LAW AT THE ROYAL NAVAL WAR COLLEGE ]
SOMETIME PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL LAW IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO;
AUTHOR OF " PRINCIPLES OF INTERNATIONAL LAW,"
" WAR AND NEUTRALITY IN THE FAR EAST," ETC.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
AMERICAN BRANCH : 35 West 32nd Steeet
LONDON, TORONTO, MELBOURNE. AND BOMBAY
by Oxford University Press
J. W. THOMSON WALKER, ESQ..
M.B., C.M.lEdin.), F.R.C.S. (Eng.)
IN THANKFUL REMEMBRANCE OP A GREAT BENEFIT
MOST GENEROUSLY CONFERRED
ON THE AUTHOR
As Reader of International Law in the University
of Bristol I have the privilege of lecturing there from
time to time on such subjects connected with the Jus
Gentium as seem to need elucidation at the moment.
Happily I am not condemned to adapt myself to the
requirements of an Examination Schedule, but am free
to dwell on what fills my own mind and interests my
audience, without regard to its value as a winner of
marks. In the enjoyment of this freedom I gave six
lectures in the Autumn of 19 17 on The Society of
Nations. Their substance is reproduced in the pres-
ent volume, and to a large extent their wording also.
But I have added a considerable amount of new mat-
ter, and have felt myself at liberty to introduce refer-
ences to events that have taken place since the course
was concluded. In fact, the growth of opinion on the
great issues at stake in the present world-conflict has
been so rapid, that in order to keep pace with it I have
had to rewrite entirely and lengthen greatly the fifth
and sixth lectures, which deal with the much-discussed
proposal to create a League of Nations. What I said
in the Council Chamber of the University of Bristol is
in the book, but not exactly as I said it. The lectures
have undergone some excision and much amplification.
The relations subsisting between independent states,
and the rules of conduct they should observe in their
mutual intercourse, have been till lately deemed by the
ordinary intelligent citizen matters far beyond his ken.
He supposed they were very difficult and obscure, and
simply declined to trouble himself about them. Now,
under stress of the miseries caused by the present war,
quite a new attitude is taken up. There is a tendency
to look seriously into these matters in order to dis-
cover remedies for the evils that are threatening
civilisation itself because of the unsatisfactory nature
of inter-state relations. Nothing but good can come
of this awakening, if it is accompanied by some real
knowledge of the conditions under which the prob-
lems to be solved have grown up, and the circum-
stances that must be reckoned with in any serious at-
tempt at their solution.
In the lectures which follow I have tried to supply
some outlines of this knowledge. They are an attempt
to meet the needs of intelligent people who neither
possess nor wish to possess the technical skill of the
historian or the jurist, but nevertheless desire to learn
enough of what has taken place between states during
the course of recorded history to enable them to form
reasonable convictions with regard to the possibilities
of improvement, and the lines along which mankind may
advance towards it. I have endeavoured to show that
there is a real Society of Nations, that it grew up by a
gradual process of evolution which can be followed
historically, and that it was on the point of developing
certain much needed judicial and legislative organs
when the present war brought about a crisis in its life,
and placed before it the choice of making a long step
forward in the path of progress or heading back
towards barbarism and misery. Finally, I have tried
to indicate the true line of advance and the best means
of facilitating the march along it. My profound con-
viction is that the great fundamental factor in the
whole complicated problem is moral and spiritual.
If the nations are content to go on with their enmities
and jealousies, their belief that the foremost places
in the world, and the largest share of its material
and intellectual good, are the prize of those who
can most cleverly outwit and most efficiently outfight
their neighbours, then there is nothing left for mankind
but a swift descent into the abyss. But if they will
substitute brotherhood for enmity, and mutual service
for jealousy, and install justice instead of force as the
ultimate arbiter in their disputes, they may rid the
human race of some of its most crying evils, and in-
augurate a better epoch of peace and prosperity.
In the early stages of the war I endeavoured to set
forth some of these views in the pages of Goodwill,
the organ of the British Council of the World Alliance
for promoting international friendship through the
Churches; and I am indebted to the Editor, the Rev.
T. H. Rushbrooke, M.A., for permission to use a few
small portions of my articles in the composition of the
present lectures. To my lifelong friend Dr. Courtney
S. Kenny, till lately Downing Professor of English
Law in the University of Cambridge, and to my old
pupil and valued fellow-labourer, Dr. A. Pearce Hig-
gins, the learned editor of the last edition of Hall's
International Law, I tender my grateful thanks for in-
formation which I should with difficulty, if at all, have
obtained without their aid.
T. J. Lawrence.
Upton Lovel Rectory,
October ist, 1918.
ANALYTICAL OUTLINE OF THE
The Origin of International Society.
Distinctions between the nation and the state. International
i. A considerable number of states.
2. The existence in each of ideas and standards sufficiently alike
to enable them to understand each other and arrange for
3. Territorial Sovereignty.
These essentials did not co-exist in the world till the period of
the Renaissance and the Reformation, though long before we can
discern a few customary rules applicable to war between states and
to what we now call diplomacy.
The code which attempts to regulate interstate relations derived
its rules originally from
It came into being through the work of great writers, among
whom may be specially mentioned
i. Francis Suarez (1548-1617), a Jesuit theologian.
2. Albericus Gentilis (1552-1608), a Protestant civilian.
3. Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), a Dutch Scholar, Jurist, Theo-
logian, Publicist and Poet.
Grotius has been called the Father of International Law. A brief
statement of what he accomplished.
OUTLINE OF THE LECTURES ix
The Growth of International Society.
International Society has grown enormously since the time of
Grotius, and its leading members have been distinguished from the
rest under the name of Great Powers. Its development has led to a
corresponding development of International Law. The chief means
whereby progress was made were
1. The theories of the Philosophical Jurists â€” Pufendorf, Wolff,
Bynkershoek, Vattel, and others. Nature and her Law.
2. The succession of great Publicists. Their authority.
3. The development of Maritime International Law by Courts.
4. The addition of express consent to tacit consent. Law-Making
International Society as it stood in July, 1914.
During the last three centuries International Law increased greatly
in bulk, and a very rudimentary and imperfect International Legis-
lature came into existence in the shape of the Hague Conferences of
1899 and 1907. When on July 31, 1914, Germany sent her ultimatum
to Russia, the civilised world possessed
1. The beginnings of an Arbitral Jurisprudence.
2. A rapidly increasing " Statute Book of the Law of Nations."
Moreover, attempts had been made, with more or less success, to
1. Codify the Law of War on Land by means of the Hague
2. Settle parts of the Law of War at Sea by some of the Hague
Conventions of 1907, the Declaration of London of 1909,
and the Oxford Manuel of 1913.
3. Create an International Prize Court and an International
Judicial Arbitration Court.
But the hopeful prospect was vitiated by
1. The absence of any general obligation to enforce accepted
2. The rapid and enormous advance in the application of science
to warfare, and the organisation of nations for war.
3. The German doctrine of Kriegsraison.
x OUTLINE OF THE LECTURES
The Partial Overthrow of International Law.
The weak points referred to in the previous lectures have been
accentuated during the present war by
i. The blow to good faith and the Obligation of Treaties struck
by the German attack on Belgium.
2. The blow to Humanity and the Obligation of Law in general
struck by German " frightfulness."
3. The blow to Neutral Rights struck by the widespread applica-
tion of the doctrine of Reprisals.
The fabric of International Law has been badly shattered in some
parts, but left standing in others. The parts reduced to ruin are
1. The Law of War.
2. The Law of Neutrality.
The parts but little touched are
1. The Law of Jurisdiction.
2. The Law of Diplomacy.
The downfall of a large portion of a building may weaken the
rest. But on the other hand the desire of civilised humanity, not to
destroy International Law, but to improve and strengthen it, is shewn
by the fact that nearly the whole world has armed, or is arming, in its
The Conditions of Reconstruction.
The work of building up the shattered edifice of International
Law concerns the whole of civilised humanity. It is rendered im-
perative not only by German " frightfulness," but also by three recent
i. The practical obliteration of the difference between combatants
2. The creation of War Zones on the high seas.
3. The introduction of aerial warfare.
There are also three other points to be considered, the general
effect of which is to make a new international order urgent as well
OUTLINE OF THE LECTURES xi
i. The present opportunity is most favourable. If it is allowed
to slip mankind may never have another.
2. The general and express consent of states is the only possible
agent of immediate reform.
3. The world must be organized for peace rather than for war,
and the duty of helping to enforce International Law must
be laid on all states.
The following suggestions are put forth as to procedure:
1. The great Conference which meets to make peace should de-
cide on the principal features of the new World-Order, and
then appoint an International Committee to work out the
details and another to revise and codify International Law.
2. Their Reports should be submitted to a great International
Congress composed of representatives of all civilised states.
3. Without waiting for the completion of this process in all its
details an international authority or authorities should be
set up immediately to decide disputes which cannot be
settled by diplomatic means.
The Rebuilding of International Society.
A great change of heart among the peoples is necessary before
a righteous international order can be set up. Brotherhood must
drive away jealousy, and mutual service must take the place of
mutual ill-will. The best available means for maintaining peaceful
relations and diminishing the frequency and the horrors of war is the
establishment of a League of Nations in which all or most civilised
states shall bind themselves together for the purpose of settling dis-
putes by justice instead of force. To this two fundamental objections
1. It will be fatal to state sovereignty. A careful discussion
shews this has no solid foundation.
2. It will be found impracticable. This can be met by shewing
that the elements of the new order exist already and re-
quire only development and combination.
But undoubtedly these are serious difficulties, and they will tax
to the full the best mental and moral elements in human nature.
The problem is at bottom spiritual. The two organisations which
can do the most to solve it are the Church and the Labour Movement.
THE SOCIETY OF NATIONS
THE ORIGIN OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY.
Before I begin to deal with the subject-matter of
these lectures it seems desirable to make clear that the
responsibility for the statements and arguments they
contain is mine alone. The University of Bristol has
arranged for their delivery; but its corporate action
goes no further. It must not be held bound by my
assertions, still less by the conclusions I draw from
them. Most of my facts are the common property of
all students who have investigated the history of inter-
national relations. My views are, I believe, shared by
a rapidly increasing number of thoughtful people; but
the responsibility for their utterance on the present
occasion rests on no shoulders but my own.
This afternoon I am to speak about the origin of the
Society of Nations. The average human being takes
such a Society for granted, pretty much as he takes for
granted families, governments, laws and tribunals. Yet
all these owe their existence in their present shape to a
long process of gradual development; and this is true
2 THE SOCIETY OF NATIONS
of the Society of Nations also. There was a time when
it was not. And when it came into existence it did not
take at first, or indeed for generations afterwards, the
form we knew before the World-War complicated or
upset our previous notions. Moreover in its case we
have to face the additional complication that the name
does not properly fit the thing it is used to denote. If
we were strictly accurate we should speak of the Society
of States, not the Society of Nations. The usual phrase
has obtained such a hold that we cannot avoid using
it; but a little consideration will shew that it is unscien-
tific and incorrect.
Nations are aggregations of individuals bound to-
gether by ties of common blood, common language,
common history, common institutions, common religion,
and a common way of looking at life and society. One
or more of these characteristics may be wanting, and
yet the rest may be sufficiently strong to create a bond
between those who possess them much closer than any
that unites them with the rest of the world. The Swiss,
for instance, have neither a common religious faith nor
a common tongue. But the ties of political free-
dom, historical association and geographical con-
tiguity are so strong that no one in or out of Switzer-
land doubts for a moment the existence of a Swiss
nation. Yet a nation is not necessarily a political unit,
nor need it, or any part of it, be ruled by its own people.
The Poles are split up into three great divisions no one
of which is under distinctly Polish government. There
is a German Poland, a Russian Poland, and an Austrian
ORIGIN OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY 3
Poland, but there is nowhere a Polish Poland. 1 On the
other hand the Italian people live, as regards by far
the greatest number of them, under rulers of their
own race and their own choosing; but there is still on
the borders of Italy an Italia Irridenta under Austrian
domination. 1 Sometimes, as in the instances we have
just been considering, the great bulk, of a nation dwell
together on a given portion of the earth's surface,
which is peopled mainly, if not exclusively, by them.
But there are cases where two or more nations are in-
extricably mingled in the same territory. Of certain
districts in the Balkan Peninsula it is impossible to say
that they are Greek or Bulgarian or Slav. They are
all three in varying proportions, and the question which
race is in a majority in any given place is often fiercely
disputed, and proves in practice almost impossible of
solution, owing to the feuds and subterfuges of the
inhabitants. In such circumstances it is difficult, if not
impossible, to make the nations concerned into separate
self-governing units. And though the principle of
nationality asserts that, wherever possible., this should
be done, even at the cost of much regrouping of peoples
and rearrangement of political boundaries, yet those
who have adopted it as a working rule would be the
last to assert that it can be applied universally.
We have seen that a nation is a group based on unity
of sentiment or unity of blood, or both. On the other
hand a state is a group based on unity of government.
1 In the interval between the writing and the printing of these
sentences they have happily lost their original accuracy.
4 THE SOCIETY OF NATIONS
When the two groups coincide, there is more prospect
of stability and happiness than under any other political
conditions. But when it is a question of regulating
the relations between the various bodies into which
mankind are divided for purposes of internal order
and external security, it is the state rather than the
nation that must be considered. Imagine an attempt
to send an Ambassador to the Jews. Where is he to
go? To whom is he to be accredited? Who has power
to bind the Jewish nation to any agreement he may en-
deavour to negotiate ? The same questions may be put,
with the same impossibility of obtaining an answer, in
respect of any nation which is not a state also, that is to
say a group of people settled on a given portion of the
earth's surface, and organised for purposes of govern-
ment under rulers who have authority to speak for the
whole body-politic in its dealings with other groups of
the same nature. The intercourse of these groups is
interstate intercourse. The society they form is a So-
ciety of States, not a Society of Nations. The rules
they observe in their mutual relations are Interstate
Law, not International Law.
It is necessary to remember this always, though we
cannot now alter the nomenclature that has been in use
for generations. But we ought to use it with the mental
reservation that it signifies something which may or
may not be identical with what it says. We are dealing
to-day, and throughout this course, with states. And
though probably all of us believe that in an ideal world
states would invariably coincide with nations, we
ORIGIN OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY 5
know that at present instances to the contrary abound.
There are many states that are not nations and many
nations that are not states. And though one result of
the present World-War will almost certainly be an
increase in the number of Nation States, we cannot sup-
pose that it will blot out from the map all the states
that are bundles of nationalities, or unite the severed
parts of all nations that are now divided among two or
more states. A completely satisfactory adjustment of
the relations between state and nation cannot take
place till many difficult problems connected with Fed-
eral Government on the one hand, and the control and
development of backward races on the other, have been
solved. I have no intention of discussing them now.
But I do want to make it quite plain that at present we
have no right to think of nations as the units of what
we cannot escape from calling international society. In
discussing this society, and the laws which do regulate,
or ought to regulate, its affairs, we are dealing with
states. We must use the old terms; but if we are to
think clearly we must use them with the reservations
I have insisted on.
Having dealt with this preliminary point, we
can now go on to consider the conditions that must be
satisfied before any real Society of Nations can exist
and flourish. First, it is clear that a Society implies
members. If all the world were one great state, there
could not be a Society of States. This was exactly what
occurred throughout the long centuries during which
the dominion of the Roman Caesars extended over all,
6 THE SOCIETY OF NATIONS
or very nearly all, the civilised peoples of the earth.
The existence of a common superior prevented the
growth of separate and independent political units.
States as we understand them could not, and did not,
exist. Now the area of civilisation is far wider than it
was in the palmiest days of ancient Rome. But it is
broken up into a number of commonwealths, great and
small, each of which acknowledges no earthly superior.
These are constantly brought into relationship with
each other, and form what is sometimes called the
Family of Nations and sometimes the Society of Na-
tions. Unless they existed together, and in constant
contact with one another, International Law and all
that it implies would be impossible. There can be no
body of rules to regulate mutual relations when there
is no society and no intercourse, and consequently no
relations to be regulated.
Secondly, it is necessary that among the members of
a society there should be some community of thought
and aspiration, though it is, of course, highly desirable
that a certain variety of outlook should exist as well.
But if ideals and standards are so different that the
members practically fail to understand each other, they
are quite unable to work together, and it is impossible
for them to unite for the accomplishment of common
purposes. I remember once declining to join an asso-
ciation of clergy formed to go together in groups on
foreign tours. My reason was that a healthy admix-
ture of the lay element was necessary in order to
obtain in full measure the recreation, refreshment and
ORIGIN OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY 7
instruction we expect from travel abroad. I still think.
I was right; but if in my ardour for variety of view I
had taken the extreme course of joining a club of
Publicans and Bar-tenders on a Whitsuntide excursion,
I should probably have felt so isolated and uncomfor-
table that before long I should have deeply regretted
my leap from the clerical frying-pan into the Liquor
Trade fire! A certain amount of community of interest
is requisite for the welfare, and even the existence, of
all societies. Exactly how much of it is essential no
wise man will venture to define. But we can at any
rate declare that social life is impossible when people
live on such different planes of thought that they are
altogether incapable of seeing and understanding each
other's points of view.
All this applies in large measure to states as well
as to individuals. The ideas of the most reactionary
government in Europe would appear like enlightenment
itself when compared with those of a cattle-stealing,
man-slaying, witchcraft-loving Central African poten-
tate. The manners and customs, standards and ideals,
of Seven Dials or Montmartre would be deemed fas-
tidious and impossible by the dwarfs of the Upper
Congo or the Black-Fellows of Central Australia. Such
peoples and rulers as these could not be received into
the Family of Nations. But when communities are
sufficiently civilised to render it possible for their en-
voys to meet on something like equal terms with those
of European and American states, to honour the en-
gagements entered into by their representatives, and to
8 THE SOCIETY OF NATIONS
treat with substantial justice subjects of other powers
resident among them, then they can be received into
international society without danger to its future. They
may not at first wield any considerable influence. They
may indeed find their privileges somewhat curtailed in
comparison with those of older members, as is the case
with several Oriental realms who are not allowed full
rights of jurisdiction over subjects of Western states
resident within their borders. But on the whole it is
better for them, and for the rest of the world, to admit
them than to keep them outside. International Law,
as we shall soon see, sprang up among a group of
powers which had been for centuries under the influ-
ence of Christianity; and at one time there was a tend-
ency to assert that it was peculiar to Christian states.
But this position became impossible with the formal
admission of the Mahometan state of Turkey into the
Society of Nations by the Treaty of Paris of 1856. At
the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 five non-
Christian countries â€” Turkey, Persia, Siam, China and