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THE SECOND PEACE CONFERENCE OF 1907 1 . - 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 SECOND PEACE CONFERENCE OF 19071 .
The Hague Conference of 1899 did nothing definite to ensure a subsequent meeting except to express a wish that certain matters might be inserted in the programme of a Conference in the near future, but it “broke up with the conviction that its work would be completed subsequently by the regular progress of enlightenment among the nations, and as the result of the experience gradually acquired2 .” The Second Conference was, as the Final Act records, first proposed by the President of the United States (Mr Theodore Roosevelt). Several years having elapsed since the termination of the First Conference, and no steps having been taken to convoke another, the Hon. John Hay, American Secretary of State, on the 21st October, 1904, addressed a Circular to the representatives of the United States accredited to the Governments who were signatories of the Acts of the Conference of 1899. A preliminary circular had been despatched shortly before by the Assistant Secretary of State.
After referring to the beneficial work done by the Hague Conference of 1899, and the questions which it left over for subsequent discussion, the Circular referred to the work done by the Inter-parliamentary Union in preparing the “minds of governments for an accord in the direction of the assured peace among men.” The Annual Meeting of the Union, which was held in 1904 at St Louis, had passed a resolution requesting the several governments of the world to send delegates to an international Conference to be held for the purpose of considering (1) the questions for the consideration of which the Conference at the Hague expressed a wish that a future Conference should be called; (2) the negotiation of arbitration treaties between the nations represented at the Conference to be convened; (3) the advisability of establishing an international congress to be convened periodically for the discussion of international questions: it concluded by inviting the President of the United States to invite nations to send representatives to such a congress. In acceding to the request the President stated that he was not unmindful that a great war was in progress, but he recalled the fact that invitations to the First Hague Conference were sent out while the United States and Spain were at war, though during an armistice for the settlement of terms of peace. The American ministers were directed to bring the foregoing considerations to the attention of the Governments to which they were accredited, without specifically mentioning a programme for such Conference, except those matters which the Hague Conference of 1899 left for further discussion. He referred to the fact that on the 28th April, 1904, the Congress of the United States had resolved that it was desirable, in the interests of uniformity of action by the maritime states of the world in time of war, that the President endeavour to bring about an understanding among the principal maritime Powers with a view of incorporating into the permanent law of civilised nations the principle of the exemption of all private property at sea, not contraband of war, from capture or destruction by belligerents. After mentioning the questions of contraband and inviolability of postal correspondence, and the treatment of refugee belligerent ships in neutral ports, the Circular stated that the overture for a second Conference was not designed to supersede other calls for the consideration of special topics, such as the amendment of the Hague Convention with respect to hospital ships, and concluded by expressing the President’s desire and hope that “the undying memories which cling round the Hague as the cradle of the beneficent work which had its beginning in 1899 may be strengthened by the holding of the Second Peace Conference in that historic city1 .”
Russia, the originator of the First Conference, was, as the American Circular points out, at war with Japan, and the Russian Government stipulated that the Conference should not be held till war was terminated. This was ultimately brought about by the statesmanlike action of President Roosevelt. Meantime the Tsar made known his desire to be allowed to summon the Second Conference. The President at once yielded the precedence to the Emperor Nicholas II, and on the 3rd April, 1906, the following note was addressed with the assent of the Tsar by representatives of the Russian Government abroad to the Governments to which they were accredited2 .
April 3, 1906.
M. le Secrétaire d’Etat,
In convoking a second Peace Conference, the Imperial Government have had in view the necessity of giving a fresh development to the humanitarian principles which formed the basis of the work of the great international meeting of 1899.
They are at the same time of opinion that it is desirable to increase as far as possible the number of states taking part in the labours of the proposed Conference, and the enthusiasm which this appeal has met with proves how deep and widespread is the wish to-day to give effect to ideas having as their object the welfare of humanity.
The first Conference broke up with the conviction that its work would be completed subsequently by the regular progress of enlightenment among the nations and as the result of experience gradually acquired. Its most important creation, the International Court of Arbitration, is an institution which has already been tested, and which has collected for the common weal, as it were in the areopagus Court, jurists enjoying universal respect. It has also been proved how useful the International Commissions of Inquiry have been for settling differences which have arisen between one state and another.
There are, however, improvements to be made in the Convention relative to the pacific settlement of international disputes. As a result of recent arbitrations the jurists on the Tribunal have raised certain questions of detail about which it is necessary to come to a decision, by giving to the said Convention the necessary developments. It seems, in particular, desirable that fixed principles should be laid down in regard to what languages are to be used in the Court, in view of the difficulties which might arise in the future, as recourse to arbitration jurisdiction became more frequent. There are, similarly, certain improvements to make in the working of the International Commissions of Inquiry.
As regards the codification of the laws and customs of war on land, the provisions adopted by the First Conference must likewise be completed, and so clearly defined as to preclude all possibility of misunderstanding.
In regard to naval warfare, as to which the laws and customs differ in certain particulars in different countries, it is necessary to establish fixed rules to meet both the requirements of the rights of belligerents and the interests of neutrals.
A Convention respecting these matters would have to be elaborated, and would form one of the most important duties of the next Conference.
Consequently, as it is at present desirable to examine only such questions as are of pressing importance, in the light of the experience of recent years, leaving untouched those questions which might affect the limitation of military or naval forces, the Imperial Government puts forward as the programme of the proposed meeting the following principal points:—
1. Improvements to be made in the provisions of the Convention relative to the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, as far as the Court of Arbitration and the International Commissions of Inquiry are concerned.
2. Additions to be made in the provisions of the Convention of 1899 relative to the Laws and Customs of War on Land, among others, concerning the opening of hostilities, the rights of neutrals on land, etc. Declarations of 1899. One of them having lapsed, question of its renewal.
3. Elaboration of a Convention relative to the Laws and Usages of Naval Warfare concerning—
Special operations in naval warfare, such as the bombardment of ports, towns, and villages by a naval force, laying torpedoes, etc.;
Conversion of merchant-vessels into war-ships;
Private property of belligerents at sea;
The days of grace accorded to merchant-vessels for leaving neutral or enemy ports after the commencement of hostilities;
The rights and duties of neutrals at sea, among others, questions of contraband, the regulations to be applied to the belligerent vessels in neutral ports; destruction by force majeure of neutral merchantships detained as prizes.
In the said proposed Convention would be inserted provisions relative to war on land which would be likewise applicable to naval warfare.
4. Additions to be made in the Convention of 1899 for applying to naval warfare the principles of the Geneva Convention of 1864.
As at the Conference of 1899, it is fully understood that the deliberations of the proposed meeting shall not affect either the political relations between one country and another or the existing order of things as established by treaties, or, in general, questions not directly referred to in the programme adopted by the Cabinets.
The Imperial Government wishes it to be clearly understood that this programme and its eventual acceptance by the different states obviously does not prejudice any opinions which may be expressed at the Conference as to the solution to be given to questions submitted for discussion. Similarly it would be the duty of the proposed meeting to define the order in which questions are to be treated and the form which such decisions as are adopted should take, according as it should be considered preferable to include some of them in fresh Conventions or to add them to Conventions already in existence.
In formulating the above-mentioned programme, the Imperial Government has, as far as possible, taken into consideration the opinions expressed at the First Peace Conference, in particular in regard to the rights and duties of neutrals, private property of belligerents at sea, bombardment of ports, towns, etc. They trust that His Britannic Majesty’s Government will recognise in the various suggestions an expression of the desire to arrive at that high ideal of international justice which is the constant aim of the whole civilised universe.
Under instructions from my Government, I have the honour to inform you of the above, and I have to add that the date of the assembling of the proposed Conference at the Hague should be the second half of July next (n.s.), the Netherland Government being also of opinion for their part that this date would be the most convenient.
Awaiting a reply from the Government of His Britannic Majesty at an early date, I have, etc.
The First Conference contained no representatives from the Central and South American Republics. In addressing an invitation to these and other states which did not take part in the First Conference a difficulty presented itself. The First Convention of the First Conference on the pacific settlement of international disputes was only open to signature by the Powers present at that Conference. By Article 60 it was provided as follows:—“The conditions upon which those Powers which were not represented in the International Peace Conference may accede to the present Convention shall form the subject of a further agreement between the contracting Powers.” No such agreement had been concluded. As it was probable that the projected Conference would take the Conventions of 1899 into consideration, it was necessary to enable the newly-invited states to become parties to the Conventions if they wished. Count Benckendorff therefore suggested in another note of the 3rd April, 1906, that at the opening of the Second Conference the agreement contemplated by Article 60 should be entered into, and as a similar restriction did not exist in the case of the other two Conventions, the Russian Government approached the newly-invited states to signify their adherence to these two Conventions to the Netherland Government1 . No objection was made to this course and the newly-invited states acceded to the Convention No. 1 of 1899 at the opening of the Conference in 1907, and those states which had hitherto not become parties to the other Conventions also signified their adherence. The date suggested by the Russian Circular was found to be inconvenient for two reasons. A Conference of the South American States had already been fixed for July, 1906, and the Swiss Government had summoned a meeting of the Powers for June, 1906, for the revision of the Geneva Convention of 1864. A further postponement was therefore necessary. Invitations were finally issued by the Dutch Government in May, 1907, to 47 states, and on the 15th June, 1907, the Conference was opened in the Hall of the Knights at the Hague by the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs. M. Nélidow, the Russian Ambassador in Paris, was elected President of the Conference. Forty-four states were represented; those who were not represented, though invited, were Abyssinia, Costa Rica and Honduras. The delegates of Corea sought to be included, but owing to the opposition of Japan were excluded2 .
The Programme for the discussion of the Conference had been sketched in the Circular of Count Benckendorff of the 3rd April, 1906, and in replying to it several states intimated their intention to bring forward additional subjects. The United States, Great Britain and Spain reserved the right of submitting the question of the reduction or limitation of armaments, and the growing expenditure on them. It is a noteworthy fact that though this question was the prime cause of the meeting of the First Conference and appeared in the forefront of Count Mouravieff’s Circular it finds no place in that of Count Benckendorff. This in itself was not a hopeful omen for those who attached great weight to the pacific influence of such gatherings. The United States also intimated their intention of submitting an agreement for restricting the employment of force for the recovery of ordinary public debts resulting from contracts. Japan expressed the opinion that certain questions not specifically mentioned might be usefully included among the subjects to be examined. Bolivia, Denmark, Greece and the Netherlands also reserved the right of submitting to the Conference other subjects similar to those explicitly mentioned in the Circular. It was also clear that several governments did not expect fruitful results from some of the proposals, as the British, Japanese, German and Austro-Hungarian Governments reserved the right of abstaining from discussing questions which they did not consider would lead to useful results. In announcing, before the opening of the Conference, these new subjects for discussion the Russian Government made a similar reservation. Great Britain was represented by four delegates1 : the Right Hon. Sir Edward Fry, G.C.B., the Right Hon. Sir Ernest Satow, G.C.M.G., the Right Hon. Lord Reay, G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E. and Sir Henry Howard, K.C.M.G., with a staff of seven legal, military and naval technical delegates (Lieut.-Gen. Sir Edmond R. Elles, G.C.I.E., K.C.B., Captain C. L. Ottley, M.V.O., R.N., A.D.C. (now Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Ottley), Mr Eyre Crowe, Mr Cecil Hurst, Lieut.-Col. the Hon. H. Yarde-Buller, D.S.O., Commander J. R. Segrave, R.N. and Major George K. Cockerill). The United States delegates were: the Hon. J. H. Choate, the Hon. Horace Porter, the Hon. U. M. Rose, the Hon. D. J. Hill, Rear-Admiral Sperry, General G. B. Davis, Mr W. I. Buchanan, with two technical delegates (Mr James Brown Scott and Mr C. H. Butler). One hundred and seventy-four names of Plenipotentiaries and delegates are enumerated in the Final Act; being nearly double the number attending the First Peace Conference.
The Second Plenary Meeting was held on the 19th June, when in consequence of the large number of the Plenipotentiaries and delegates it was agreed to adopt a set of 12 rules with a view to facilitate the business. Following the precedent of 1899, Committees were appointed, the Plenipotentiaries of each Power being entitled to place themselves on as many as they chose and to designate their technical delegates. Great Britain and Germany objected to a portion of the eighth rule in the draft which allowed one Power to be represented by the Delegation of another Power, and this was suppressed. It was agreed that each Power should have only one vote. French was recognised as the official language for the deliberations and Acts of the Conference, speeches delivered in any other language to be translated into French through the medium of the Secretariat-General. Four Committees were appointed, and the subjects specified in Count Benckendorff’s Circular were allotted among them.
To the First Committee: (1) Arbitration, (2) Commissions of international inquiry, (3) Questions relating to naval prizes; M. Bourgeois (France) was President of this Committee.
To the Second Committee: (1) Revision of the rules of war on land, (2) The three Declarations of 1899, (3) Rights and duties of neutrals in regard to land warfare, (4) The opening of hostilities; M. Beernaert (Belgium) was President of this Committee.
To the Third Committee: (1) The bombardment of ports, towns and villages by a naval force, (2) The placing of torpedoes and submarine mines, (3) Regulations for belligerent ships of war in neutral ports, (4) The revision of the Convention of 1899 applying to naval warfare the principles of the Geneva Convention of 1864 which was revised in 1906; Count Tornielli (Italy) was President of this Committee.
To the Fourth Committee: (1) The conversion of merchant-ships into ships of war, (2) Private property at sea, (3) Days of grace, (4) Contraband of war, (5) Blockade, (6) Destruction of neutral prizes, (7) Application of the rules of war on land to maritime warfare; M. de Martens (Russia) was President of this Committee.
Honorary Presidents and Vice-Presidents were appointed to each Committee. At the Second Plenary Meeting of the Conference the British and German delegates intimated that they proposed to submit projects for the establishment of an International Prize Court. The American delegate announced that he intended to bring before the Conference the question of the forcible collection of public debts, and the British delegate made a general reservation in favour of introducing other subjects during the sitting of the Conference. Besides the Four Committees mentioned there was also a Drafting Committee (Comité de Rédaction) and a Committee to examine and report on the numerous addresses, books, etc. presented to the Conference (Commission des Adresses). The First, Second and Third Committees were each divided into two Sub-Committees, and Examining Committees were also appointed. The size of the Committees as well as the different matters assigned to each made such an arrangement necessary. The average number of each Committee was 93. The United States had the largest number of representatives on each, varying from 8 on the Fourth Committee to 5 on the Third. It will, however, be remembered that each Power possessed but one vote.
The Conference held eleven plenary meetings; its work as well as that of the Committees whose reports were presented at these meetings will be dealt with in connection with the Conventions and “Wishes” set forth in the Final Act of the Conference adopted on the 18th Oct. 1907, and an endeavour will be made to deal with the results in the concluding chapter.
[1 ]Parl. Papers, Miscellaneous, Nos. 1, 4, 5 and 6 (1908); La Deuxième Conférence Internationale de la Paix, Actes et Documents (3 vols.); Sir T. Barclay, Problems of international practice and diplomacy with special reference to the Hague Conferences and Conventions and other General International Agreements; Idem, The Second Hague Conference, Fortnightly Review, June and Oct. 1907; Baron d’Estournelles de Constant, The results of the Second Hague Conference, Am. Independent, 21 Nov. 1907; A. H. Charteris, The Second Peace Conference, Juridical Review, Vol. xix. pp. 223, 347; A. Ernst, L’œuvre de la deuxième Conférence de la Paix; A. H. Fried, Die zweite Haager Konferenz; D. J. Hill, The net result at the Hague, Am. Review of Reviews, Dec. 1907; T. E. Holland, The Hague Conference 1907, Law Quarterly Review, Vol. xxiv. p. 76; T. J. Lawrence, International Problems and Hague Conferences; A. de Lapradelle, La guerre maritime après la nouvelle Conférence de la Paix, Revue des deux Mondes (1 Aug. 1908); Ernest Lémonon, La seconde Conférence de la Paix; J. B. Moore, Digest of Int. Law, Vol. vii. p. 96; A. Pillet, La cause de la Paix; L. Renault, Les deux Conférences de la Paix; J. B. Scott, The work of the Second Hague Peace Conference, Am. Journal of Int. Law, Jan. 1908; Idem, Texts of the Peace Conferences at the Hague; W. T. Stead, Notes from the Hague, Review of Reviews (London), Nov. 1907; Idem, Impressions from the Hague, Contemporary Review, Dec. 1907; A. Tardieu, La deuxième Conférence de la Paix, Revue des deux Mondes, 1st June, 1907; J. Westlake, International Law, War, Chapter xi.; Idem, The Hague Conference, Quarterly Review, Jan. 1908, p. 225; Anon. The Second Hague Conference, Edin. Review, Jan. 1908, p. 224; Le Courrier de la Conférence, edited by W. T. Stead; E. A. Whittuck, International documents.
[2 ]Letter of Count Benckendorff to Sir Edward Grey, 3rd April, 1906.
[1 ]Mr Hay’s letter is set forth in extenso in J. B. Moore, Digest of Inter. Law, Vol. vii. p. 96. J. B. Scott, Texts of the Peace Conferences, etc. p. 93. See also Sir T. Barclay, Problems, etc. p. 3.
[2 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 1 (1908), p. 2.
[1 ]Letter of Count Benckendorff to Sir Edward Grey, 3rd April, 1906.
[2 ]See note to Geneva Convention of 1906, p. 35.
[1 ]For the Instructions given to the British delegates see Appendix.