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There was very full discussion of the proposal for such a court and a general agreement was finally reached in favor of its creation. The conference recommended to the signatory powers the adoption of a draft upon which it agreed for the organization of the court, leaving to be determined only the method by which the judges should be selected. This remaining unsettled question is plainly one which time and good temper will solve.

I believe you will search in vain for any work of a more farreaching nature accomplished within the past centuries. The dream of Henry IV, the hope of William Penn, both of whom prepared projects for a court of nations, seem, if not wholly to have been realized, within the very grasp of our generation.

The friends of peace and arbitration had wished to make the conference at The Hague a permanent institution, meeting at regular and stated intervals known in advance. The American delegation had the honor to urge the adoption of such a resolution or recommendation and succeeded in substance, although the language is not so clear and crisp as one would like to see it. The exact wording of the recommendation follows:

Finally, the conference recommends to the powers the reunion of a third peace conference to take place within a period analogous to that which has elapsed since the preceding conference (eight years) at a date to be fixed by common agreement among the powers, and the conference call their attention to the necessity of preparing the program of the Third Conference far enough in advance in order that its deliberations may take place with indispensable authority and rapidity.

In order to reach this end, the conference considers it very desirable that two years before the probable reunion of the conference a preparatory committee be charged by the governments with the duty of collecting the different propositions to be submitted to the conference, of discovering matters susceptible of future international regulation, and of preparing a program which the governments shall determine so that it may be attentively studied in each country. This committee shall propose a mode of organization and procedure for the conference.

The meaning of this recommendation is obvious. Whatever power may call the conference, the interested governments are to prepare the program and devise rules for the organization and pro cedure of the conference. In other words, the conference ceases to be Russian in becoming international.

Enough has been said to show that this conference, which lasted four months, and which was subjected to criticism in all parts of the world and to misrepresentations in the journals, has not only justified its calling but that it is a landmark in international development.

Our great concern must be, as far as possible, to humanize war as long as war exists. The greater task is to remove the causes of war so that nations may not be hurried into war, or that friction, developed by the failure to solve or adjust conflicts, may not permit nations slowly but surely to drift into war.

Leaving out minor matters, this conference did four things.

1. It provided for a meeting of a third conference within an analogous period, namely eight years, to be under the control of the powers generally, instead of the control of any one of them.

2. It adopted a convention for the non-forcible collection of contract debts, substituting arbitration and an appeal to reason for force and an appeal to arms.

3. It established a prize court to safeguard neutrals, and

4. It laid the foundations of, if it did not put the finishing stone to, a great court of arbitration.


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The First Hague Conference had as its main object a consideration of a “possible reduction of the excessive armaments which weigh upon all nations,” or, at least, a discussion of the possibility of “putting an end to the progressive development of the present armaments.” 2 The conference early realized that even a limitation of the increase of military and naval expenditure was impracticable at that time, and devoted its chief energies to the secondary purpose for which it was called, viz., to discuss and devise “ the most effectual means of insuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and durable


Among the specific proposals contained in Count Muravieff's circular letter of January 11, 1899, was one “ to accept in principle the employment of good offices, of mediation and facultative arbitration in cases lending themselves thereto, with the object of preventing armed conflicts between nations; to come to an understanding with respect to the mode of applying these good offices, and to establish a uniform practice in using them." 4

The result of the deliberations of the third committee -- the most important commission of the conference — was the Treaty of Arbitration, or convention for the peaceful adjustment of international differences, of 1899, consisting of sixty-one articles. Of these, seven articles related to the use of good offices and mediation, six were concerned with international commissions of inquiry, and fifty-two were devoted to international arbitration proper.

“ In questions of a judicial character, and especially in questions regarding the interpretation of international treaties or conventions,” arbitration was recognized as “the most efficacious and at the same time the most equitable method of deciding controversies which have not been settled by diplomatic methods.” 5

1 Professor Hershey was present at the Second Hague Conference as correspondent of the New York Evening Post and the Boston Evening Transcript. – MANAGING EDITOR.

2 The Czar's Rescript of August 24, 1898.
3 Ibid.
- Holls, Peace Conference, p. 8.

By far the most important of these provisions were those which established the Hague Tribunal, or Permanent Court of Arbitration, and regulated its procedure. But it was a court permanent in name only and a panel or list of judges rather than a court. Its procedure and mode of organization were very defective, and its importance lay rather in what it held out by way of promise for the future than of actual achievement. But it was nevertheless a great step in advance; for it provided governments with a list of judges and a procedure ready at hand for the settlement of such differences as they might choose to submit to arbitration, thus rendering it

unnecessary for them to enter into long and tedious negotiations respecting the selection of arbitrators or the settlement of the mode of procedure upon the occasion of each and every controversy.

Although very few cases have thus far been submitted to the Hague Tribunal, its creation has greatly stimulated the negotiation of treaties of arbitration between nations with agreements to submit some or all disputes to its jurisdiction. And perhaps this has been the greatest single result of the First Hague Conference.

But arbitration is not the sole or even chief mode of settling international differences. Diplomacy is ever at work healing wounds, arranging compromises, adjusting claims, and preventing friction. And recent experience during the Russo-Japanese war has shown that there are also great possibilities in mediation and international commissions of inquiry.

The signatory powers in 1899 declared in favor of good offices or mediation, as far as circumstances permit, both before and during hostilities, and defined the duties and functions of the mediator. They also recommended the application, when circumstances allow, of special mediation in the following form:

• Article 16 of the Arbitration Treaty of 1899.

. See an article by the writer in the New York Independent for September 13, 1906.


In case of a serious difference endangering the peace, the states at variance shall each choose a power to whom they intrust the mission of entering into direct communication with the power chosen by the other side, with the object of preventing the rupture of pacific relations.

During the period of this mandate, the term of which, unless otherwise stipulated, can not exceed thirty days, the states in conflict shall cease from all direct communication on the subject of the dispute, which shall be regarded as having been referred exclusively to the mediating powers, who shall use their best efforts to settle the controversy.

In case of a definite rupture of pacific relations, these powers remain charged with the joint duty of taking advantage of every opportunity to restore peace."

It is a matter of regret that this form of special mediation, which is based upon the use of seconds in duelling, was not tried upon the outbreak either of the South African struggle or the Russo-Japanese war; but there can be no doubt that it was in pursuance of the recommendations contained in article 3 that President Roosevelt induced negotiations which resulted in the Treaty of Portsmouth 8 in 1905. This article read:

Independently of this recourse [i. e., recourse to the good offices or mediation of one or more friendly powers to avert hostilities]," the signatory powers consider it to be useful that one or more powers who are strangers to the dispute should, on their own initiative, and as far as circumstances will allow, offer their good offices or mediation to the states at variance.

The right to offer good offices or mediation belongs to powers who are strangers to the dispute, even during the course of hostilities.

The exercise of this right shall never be regarded by one or the other of the parties to the contest as an unfriendly act.

If the convention of 1899 for the peaceful adjustment of international differences thus furnished our President with the means of initiating negotiations which terminated one of the greatest wars of modern history, another great war was narrowly averted by means of an institution suggested by this same convention.

Article 9 of the Treaty of Arbitration provides:

7 Article 8 of the Arbitration Treaty. This article was drafted by Mr. Holls, secretary of the American delegation.

8 Hershey, The International Law and Diplomacy of the Russo-Japanese War, pp. 347-348.

See Article 2 of the Arbitration Treaty of 1899.

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