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best and most expeditious fulfillment. The court is authorized by Article XXII to determine its jurisdiction, interpreting the treaties and conventions germane to the matter in dispute, and applying the principles of international law.
and in Article XXI it is provided that
In deciding points of fact that may be raised before it, the Central American Court of Justice shall be governed by its free judgment, and with respect to points of law, by the principles of international law. The final judgment shall cover each one of the points in litigation.
For the purpose of reaching an agreement the concurrence of at least three justices is necessary. (Article XXIII.) The judgment when pronounced must be signed by all the justices of the court and countersigned by the secretary, and in case of doubt as to the meaning of the judgment “ the tribunal may declare the interpretation which must be given to its judgment.” (Article XXIV.)
Theorists insist upon a sanction for the decision of an international court, and, if any express sanction be wanting, the advisability of the institution is either questioned or its judgments are denied the power and effect of judgments of a municipal court. Article XXV of the convention supplies a moral sanction, the only sanction possible in the present condition of international development:
The judgments of the court shall be communicated to the five governments of the contracting republics. The interested parties solemnly bind themselves to submit to said judgments, and all agree to lend all moral support that may be necessary in order that they may be properly fulfilled, thereby constituting a real and positive guaranty of respect for this convention and for the Central American Court of Justice.
And, finally, the plenipotentiaries proposed an article for the consideration of the legislatures of their respective countries, which, if adopted and incorporated in the convention, would much enlarge its scope and therefore its usefulness:
The Central American Court of Justice shall also have jurisdiction over the conflicts which may arise between the legislative, executive, and
judicial powers, and when as a matter of fact the judicial decisions and resolutions of the national congress are not respected.”
To the powers of Europe, to the great powers of the world, who struggled with partial success, for four months at The Hague, to establish a court of arbitral justice, the young republics of Central America may recall the scriptural phrase: “A little child shall lead them."
As the opening pages of this article set forth in considerable detail the various attempts toward union and the establishment of a permanent state of affairs it may be asked whether these conventions may not share the fate of their predecessors, which were discarded while the ink was still wet upon them. He is a bold if not unwise man who would pose as a political prophet, but it should be borne in mind that the previous treaties were concluded solely by the republics of Central America, and that they failed to establish a permanent state of affairs largely because they rested upon a public sentiment limited in extent, with no friendly guaranty from without. In the present case, the treaties and conventions would seem to be the crystallization of a public spirit and sentiment already existing, and that the two great Republics lying to the north have not only lent their friendly aid in the negotiation of the treaties and conventions, but are prepared by peaceful and proper means to guarantee their execution. It is true that the republics of Central America must stand by themselves, but it is none the less true that the moral support and encouragement of Mexico and the United States should not be overlooked. The past is indeed past, but the future is a future of hope and encouragement.
JAMES BROWN Scott.
5 As the president of the conference, Mr. Luis Anderson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Costa Rica, is to contribute an article upon the Central American Court of Justice, it would be as ungracious as it would be needless to enter into further details of this important convention.
THE PEACE CONFERENCE OF CENTRAL AMERICA
So much has already been said about the Peace Conference of Central America, which recently met in Washington, that some may deem it unnecessary to say anything more about its aims and projects; but we feel that, very important as all its plans are, one of them is so particularly momentous that we can not help devoting to it a few serious observations.
It is well known that this conference was the realization of the hope and the fulfillment of the plans of two very able and very distinguished statesmen — the President of the United States and the President of Mexico — who, in their devotion to the cause of universal peace, did all in their power to make it successful. The delegates, moved by the laudable purpose to establish perpetual peace in the five republics of the Isthmus, subscribed, in the course of their deliberations, to the following compact:
That a Central American court of justice be constituted and maintained, which shall act as arbitrator and last tribunal of appeal in all questions and controversies that may arise among the republics of Central America, no matter what these questions and controversies may be, or what may have given rise to them, in case the respective departments for foreign affairs should not have found a common ground for an understanding.
The principal feature in the conception and plan of the Central American Court of Justice is that it shall not at all be a mere commission of arbitration, but a genuine judicial tribunal, whose work shall be to sift evidence, consider arguments, and pronounce judgment in all questions that may be brought before it, acting, of course, in accordance with rigid justice and equity, and with the principles of international law. This form of international arbitration is, in our opinion, the only royal road to the definite triumph of the generous and noble idea; for, as has been very wisely said by Mr. Elihu Root, one of the ablest diplomatists of the present day:
What we need for the further development of arbitration is the substitution of judicial action for diplomatic action, the substitution of judicial sense of responsibility for diplomatic sense of responsibility: We need for arbitrators, not distinguished public men concerned in all the international questions of the day, but judges who will be interested only in the question appearing upon the record before them. Plainly, this end is to be attained by the establishment of a court of permanent judges who will have no other occupation and no other interest but the exercise of the judicial faculty under the sanction of that high sense of responsibility which has made the courts of justice in the civilized nations of the world the exponents of all that is best and noblest in modern civilization.
It is understood that the Central American Court of Justice shall be fully independent; that the sittings shall be held in the town of Cartago, situated in the central tableland of Costa Rica; that its members shall be appointed by the legislative bodies of the Central American republics; that they shall be selected from among the best jurists of the respective republics, moral character and professional ability being made the principal qualifications; that they shall have no special connection with their respective governments; that they shall be charged with no mandate or other commission that might interfere with the purity of their motives, the uprightness of their acts, and the equity of their decisions; that in the country of their appointment they shall enjoy the personal immunity of magistrates of the supreme court of justice, and in the other contracting republics shall have the privileges and immunities of diplomatic agents; that concerning questions of law the court shall decide in accordance with the principles of international law, and concerning questions of fact in accordance with its own judgment; in short, it is understood that the Central American Court of Justice shall represent the national conscience of Central America, as is aptly expressed in the thirteenth article of the compact. The interested parties have solemnly bound themselves to submit to the judgments of the court, and have agreed “to lend every moral support that may be necessary ” in order that those judgments may be properly. fulfilled.
This Court of Justice, the first tribunal of its class in the history of civilization, shall be, it is hoped, a strong and durable defense
for international peace and fraternity in Central America; it shall be the beacon to attract the hearts and minds of all intelligent Central Americans, causing the five sister republics to advance hand in hand toward the lofty eminence of a higher progress than that to which they have hitherto aspired.
The establishment of the Central American Court of Justice will be the practical realization of the ingenious plans formulated and recommended by the American delegates at the Second Peace Conference at The Hague, plans which, it will be remembered, were received with enthusiastic applause, though unfortunately they had no immediate success. The Court of Justice in Cartago will be, in some degree, the child of that bright idea, the happy performance of that which was a happy thought.
What must strike an intelligent observer is the eminently practical nature of the project introduced by the American delegates at The Hague, and it is no wonder that the arguments and suggestions of those able diplomatists were received so favorably; indeed, it is no wonder that the seed then planted is already about to yield fruit, and we feel certain that, little by little, the idea will take root in the hearts of the nations, and that the ultimate result will be the grand success of a great and valuable institution dedicated to the work of combating international discord and misery, and of promoting international peace and prosperity.
. The Central American Court of Justice, the partial fruit of the good seed sown by the American delegates, shall be, as much as possible, in keeping with the American character and with American traditions; and, if we do not deceive ourselves, what has been so auspiciously begun will be continued with the energy, perseverance, and dexterity that can not but insure the utmost success.
A great modern philosopher says, very characteristically, that every new idea is in a minority of one against the whole world. It is beyond all doubt that even the best conceptions and schemes, even the best plans and projects, have to go through their period of probation; they have to prove that they are good before they receive the suffrages and the applause of the majority; nor is it necessary to insist very much on a truth that is so obvious in the pages of history,