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The Declaration of Paris, 1856. - A. Pearce Higgins, The Hague Peace Conferences and Other International Conferences concerning the Laws and Usages of War 
The Hague Peace Conferences and Other International Conferences concerning the Laws and Usages of War. Texts of Conventions with Commentaries, by A. Pearce Higgins, LL.D. (Cambridge University Press, 1909).
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The Declaration of Paris, 1856.
The Plenipotentiaries who signed the Treaty of Paris of the 30th March, 1856, assembled in conference,—
That maritime law, in time of war, has long been the subject of deplorable disputes:
That the uncertainty of the law and of the duties [of states] in such a matter gives rise to differences of opinion between neutrals and belligerents which may occasion serious difficulties and even conflicts:
That it is consequently advantageous to establish a uniform doctrine on so important a point:
That the Plenipotentiaries assembled in Congress at Paris cannot better respond to the intentions by which their Governments are animated than by seeking to introduce into international relations fixed principles in this respect:
The above-mentioned Plenipotentiaries, being duly authorised, resolved to concert among themselves as to the means of attaining this object; and, having come to an agreement, have adopted the following solemn Declaration:—
1. Privateering is and remains abolished:
2. The neutral flag covers enemy’s goods, with the exception of contraband of war:
3. Neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war, are not liable to capture under enemy’s flag:
4. Blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective; that is to say maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the enemy’s coastline.
The Governments of the undersigned Plenipotentiaries engage to bring the present Declaration to the knowledge of the States which have not been called upon to take part in the Congress of Paris, and invite them to accede to it.
Convinced that the maxims which they now proclaim cannot but be received with gratitude by the whole world, the undersigned Plenipotentiaries doubt not that the efforts of their Governments to obtain the general adoption thereof will be crowned with full success.
The present Declaration is not and shall not be binding except between those powers who have acceded or shall accede to it.
Done at Paris, April 16th, 1856.
The signatory Powers to the Treaty of Paris were Great Britain, Austria, France, Russia, Sardinia, and Turkey.
At the same time the following Protocol recorded that “on the proposition of Count Walewski [the senior French Plenipotentiary], and recognising that it is for the general interest to maintain the indivisibility of the four principles mentioned in the Declaration signed this day, the Plenipotentiaries agree that the Powers which shall have signed it or which shall have acceded to it, cannot hereafter enter into any arrangement in regard to the application of the right of neutrals in time of war which does not at the same time rest on the four principles which are the object of the said Declaration. Upon an observation made by the Plenipotentiaries of Russia, the Congress recognises that as the present resolution cannot have a retroactive effect it cannot invalidate antecedent Conventions1 .”
The outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 found the two Allied Powers, Great Britain and France, with different principles as to the maritime law of capture. Great Britain adhered to the rule of the Consolato del Mare which rendered enemy property, ship or cargo capturable, neutral property, ship or cargo being free. France, except where otherwise bound by treaty, was free to act on the maxim “robe d’ennemi confisque robe d’ami,” by which neutral goods on board enemy ships and neutral ships carrying enemy goods were liable to capture2 . The Allied Powers notified that throughout the war they would not capture enemy goods on neutral ships, or neutral goods on enemy ships: they further intimated that they would not issue Letters of Marque. These practices, which at first were only intended to apply to the war then in progress, were embodied in this famous Declaration.
The only maritime Powers which, up to the assembling of the Hague Conference of 1907, had withheld their formal acceptance of this Declaration were the United States, Spain, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia and Uruguay. The United States during the Civil War of 1861, and Spain and the United States during the war of 1898, adhered to its principles. The refusal of the United States to formally adhere was due to the rejection of the “Marcy Amendment” exempting private property from capture at sea3 . At the Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Hague Conference on the 27th Sept. 1907, the delegates of Spain and Mexico, in voting on the Convention (No. 7) relative to the conversion of merchant ships into war ships4 , declared that their governments adhered to the Declaration of Paris in its entirety1 . The first paragraph of the Declaration will be dealt with in relation to this Convention. The absence of a definition of contraband of war and the divergence in the practice of maritime states in regard to blockade have caused the Declaration to have had only a modified application2 , while the adoption of the contention that the sinking of neutral prizes is lawful if the captor cannot spare men for a prize crew would result in a practical abrogation of the freedom accorded to neutrals by the third paragraph.
The Fourth Committee of the Hague Conference of 1907 considered the questions of contraband and blockade. On the former subject, five different proposals were brought before the Committee, the most noteworthy being the British for the complete abolition of contraband of war. This proposal received 26 votes, 5 states voted against, and 4 abstained from voting. The question was then submitted to a special Sub-Committee: but as there appeared to be no prospect of a unanimous vote, the Fourth Committee reported to the 7th Plenary Meeting of the Conference that the whole question should be submitted to a fresh examination by the states interested3 .
The discussion on the subject of blockade shewed so great a divergence between the extreme Continental view as embodied in a proposal of the Italian delegate, and the Anglo-American view as embodied in a proposal of the British and United States delegates, that on the proposition of Sir Edward Fry the further consideration of the matter was suspended4 .
The subject of the destruction of neutral prizes was discussed at the Hague Conference in 1907, and is dealt with subsequently5 .
A Conference of certain Powers interested in questions affecting maritime warfare on the invitation of the British Government met in London in December, 1908, for a further discussion of questions left unsolved by the Hague Conference6 .
DECLARATION OF ST PETERSBURG, 18681
Sur la proposition du Cabinet Impérial de Russie, une Commission Militaire Internationale ayant été réunie à Saint-Pétersbourg, afin d’examiner la convenance d’interdire l’usage de certains projectiles en temps de guerre entre les nations civilisées, et cette Commission ayant fixé d’un commun accord les limites techniques où les nécessités de la guerre doivent s’arrêter devant les exigences de l’humanité, les Soussignés sont autorisés par les ordres de leurs Gouvernements à déclarer ce qui suit:
Considérant que les progrès de la civilisation doivent avoir pour effet d’atténuer autant que possible les calamités de la guerre;
Que le seul but légitime que les Etats doivent se proposer durant la guerre est l’affaiblissement des forces militaires de l’ennemi;
Qu’à cet effet, il suffit de mettre hors de combat le plus grand nombre d’hommes possible;
Que ce but serait dépassé par l’emploi d’armes qui aggraveraient inutilement les souffrances des hommes mis hors de combat, ou rendraient leur mort inévitable;
Que l’emploi de pareilles armes serait dès lors contraire aux lois de l’humanité;
Les Parties Contractantes s’engagent à renoncer mutuellement, en cas de guerre entre elles, à l’emploi par leurs troupes de terre ou de mer, de tout projectile d’un poids inférieur à 400 grammes qui serait ou explosible ou chargé de matières fulminantes ou inflammables.
Elles inviteront tous les Etats, qui n’ont pas participé par l’envoi de Délégués aux délibérations de la Commission Militaire Internationale réunie à Saint-Pétersbourg, à accéder au présent engagement.
Cet engagement n’est obligatoire que pour les Parties Contractantes ou Accédantes en cas de guerre entre deux ou plusieurs d’entre elles: il n’est pas applicable vis-à-vis de Parties non-Contractantes ou qui n’auraient pas accédé.
Il cesserait également d’être obligatoire du moment où, dans une guerre entre Parties Contractantes ou Accédantes, une partie non-Contractante, ou qui n’aurait pas accédé, se joindrait à l’un des belligérants.
Les Parties Contractantes ou Accédantes se réservent de s’entendre ultérieurement toutes les fois qu’une proposition précise serait formulée en vue des perfectionnements à venir que la science pourrait apporter dans l’armement des troupes, afin de maintenir les principes qu’elles ont posés et de concilier les nécessités de la guerre avec les lois de l’humanité.
vingt-neuf Novembre onze DécembreFait à Saint - Pétersbourg, le, mil huit cent soixante-huit.
On the proposition of the Imperial Cabinet of Russia, an International Military Commission having assembled at St Petersburg in order to examine into the expediency of forbidding the use of certain projectiles in time of war between civilized nations, and that Commission, having by common agreement fixed the technical limits at which the necessities of war ought to yield to the requirements of humanity, the Undersigned are authorized by the orders of their Governments to declare as follows:
Considering that the progress of civilization should have the effect of alleviating as much as possible the calamities of war;
That the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy;
That for this purpose it is sufficient to disable the greatest possible number of men;
That this object would be exceeded by the employment of arms which uselessly aggravate the sufferings of disabled men, or render their death inevitable;
That the employment of such arms would, therefore, be contrary to the laws of humanity;
The Contracting Parties engage mutually to renounce, in case of war among themselves, the employment by their military or naval troops of any projectile of a weight below 400 grammes1 , which is either explosive or charged with fulminating or inflammable substances.
They will invite all the States which have not taken part in the deliberations of the International Military Commission assembled at St Petersburg, by sending Delegates thereto, to accede to the present engagement.
This engagement is obligatory only upon the Contracting or Acceding Parties thereto, in case of war between two or more of themselves; it is not applicable with regard to non-Contracting Parties or Parties who shall not have acceded to it.
It will also cease to be obligatory from the moment when, in a war between Contracting or Acceding Parties, a non-Contracting Party or a non-Acceding Party shall join one of the belligerents.
The Contracting or Acceding Parties reserve to themselves to come hereafter to an understanding whenever a precise proposition shall be drawn up in view of future improvements which science may effect in the armament of troops, in order to maintain the principles which they have established, and to conciliate the necessities of war with the laws of humanity.
29 Nov. 11 Dec.Done at St Petersburg, the 1868.
The Conference at St Petersburg which was summoned by the Emperor Alexander II. was composed of military delegates from the following Powers who signed the Convention:—Great Britain, Austria and Hungary, Bavaria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Prussia and the North German Confederation, Russia, Sweden and Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and Würtemberg. Baden and Brazil subsequently acceded to the Declaration.
The reasons for the summoning of the Conference at St Petersburg are set forth in a Memorandum which the military delegates took into consideration. From this it appears that in 1863 a bullet had been introduced with a cap which exploded on contact with a hard substance. The object of the bullet was to blow up military and ammunition wagons when the bullet was fired from a short distance. In 1867 a modification was introduced which enabled the bullet to explode on contact with a soft substance. General Milutine the Russian War Minister induced his government to summon a conference of military delegates to see if an agreement could be arrived at in reference to the use of such explosive bullets. The Prussian delegate was prepared to discuss the wider question of weapons, but the other delegates were opposed to this, and ultimately the Declaration was agreed to as set forth above1 .
The Declaration of St Petersburg is the first formal agreement restricting the use of weapons of war, both in land and maritime warfare. The statement of the reasons for this restriction is marked by a high feeling of humanity. War is necessarily productive of great pain to the combatants, and the civilised world has agreed that it is inhuman to “uselessly aggravate the sufferings of disabled men.” This Declaration is by reference incorporated into the Regulations respecting the laws and customs of war on land annexed to the Conventions on this subject adopted by both the Hague Conferences (Art. 23), and similar humane principles prompted the Three Declarations of the Conference of 1899. Although general principles are enunciated in the preamble to the Declaration the application made at the time was a limited one, and appears to be practically obsolete; but the fact of the adoption of these principles is of great importance; a standard has been set, which it is to be hoped no civilised state will in the future fail to reach.
GENEVA CONVENTION, 18641
[1 ]British State Papers (1856), Vol. lxi. p. 150.
[2 ]See J. Westlake, War, pp. 120-8.
[3 ]J. B. Moore, Digest of International Law, Vol. vii. p. 563.
[4 ]See post, p. 308.
[1 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), p. 48. La Deuxième Conférence Internationale de la Paix, T. i. (Actes ct Documents), p. 234.
[2 ]J. Westlake, War, pp. 228-232.
[3 ]Parl. Papers, pp. 194-6. La Deux. Confér. T. i. pp. 256-260.
[4 ]Parl. Papers, pp. 197-8. La Deux. Confér. T. i. p. 262.
[5 ]See post, p. 89; also pp. 557, 597.
[6 ]See post, p. 540.
[1 ]Parliamentary Papers (1869), Vol. lxiv. p. 659; De Martens, Nouveau Recueil de Traités, Vol. xviii. pp. 450-474; T. E. Holland, The Laws of War on Land, pp. 3, 4, 12, 41, 77, 141; Idem, Studies, etc. p. 66; F. Despagnet, Cours de droit inter. p. 567; W. E. Hall, Int. Law, p. 532; Halleck, Int. Law, Vol. i. p. 563; T. J. Lawrence, Int. Law, pp. 438-9; A. Mérignhac, Lois et coutumes de la guerre, p. 150; E. Nys, Le droit inter. Vol. iii. p. 162; L. Oppenheim, Int. Law, Vol. ii. p. 118; A. Rivier, Droit inter. Vol. ii. p. 261; T. A. Walker, Principles of Int. Law, p. 330; J. Westlake, War, pp. 53, 72.
[1 ]About 14 ounces avoirdupois.
[1 ]For Protocols see De Martens, Recueil, etc. Vol. xviii. pp. 450-474.
[1 ]British State Papers, 1865, Vol. lvii. p. 471; G. F. de Martens, Nouveau Recueil de Traités, Vol. xviii. p. 607; Vol. xx. pp. 375-399; Holtzendorff, Handbuch des Völkerrechts, Vol. iv. §§ 74-77; Bluntschli, Das Völkerrecht, pp. 329 et seq. § 586; Despagnet, pp. 585-8; Mérignhac, Les lois et coutumes de la guerre sur terre, pp. 114-139; Hall, pp. 401-6; Lawrence, pp. 338, 339, 491-3; T. E. Holland, Studies in International Law, pp. 61-65; Idem, The Laws and Customs of War on Land, pp. 18-27 (containing commentary on this Convention); Halleck, Vol. ii. p. 36; Wheaton, p. 474; Maine, p. 156; T. A. Walker, Science of International Law, pp. 357-362; H. Taylor, § 528; J. Westlake, War, pp. 60-72; L. Oppenheim, Vol. ii. pp. 123-8; J. B. Moore, Digest of International Law, Vol. ii. p. 474; Vol. vii. p. 235.