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Convention No. 10. The adaptation of the principles of the Geneva Convention to maritime warfare 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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Convention No. 10. The adaptation of the principles of the Geneva Convention to maritime warfare1 .
The Convention of 1899.The attempt which was unsuccessfully made in 1868 to apply the principles of the Geneva Convention of 1864 to naval warfare has already been referred to2 . The additional Articles then prepared afforded a basis for states during the period between 1868 and 1899 when the first Hague Conference prepared a Convention which was signed by all the Powers represented thereat, and was subsequently acceded to by all the Powers represented at the Second Peace Conference. The 10th Article was, however, excluded from ratification by all the signatory Powers3 .
A new Geneva Convention for land warfare having been agreed upon in 1906, the Conference of 1907 found it necessary to revise the Convention of 1899 in order to apply its principles to naval warfare, and also to make certain additions and amendments which experience had shown to be necessary.
The Convention of 1907.The German Delegation presented a draft which was taken as the basis of the deliberations of the Conference. Some amendments were made by the French Delegation, and several of the Articles of the German draft were modified after examination by the naval delegates who formed a large proportion of the Examining Committee.
The Report4 made to the Third Committee presided over by Count Tornielli (Italy) was prepared by Professor L. Renault, who had also prepared the Report on this subject in 1899. It was taken into consideration at the third Plenary Meeting of the Conference on the 20th July, 1907. With certain slight reservations which will be subsequently mentioned it was adopted. This Convention was the first voted by the Conference. The Committee adopted the wise plan of preparing a wholly new Convention instead of drafting supplementary Articles to the Convention of 1899, a proceeding which would have caused confusion and disturbed the balance and elegance of the agreement. The new Convention contains 26 Articles as compared with 14 in that of 1899.
The various classes of hospital ships.The first three Articles deal with the three different classes of hospital ships to which the Convention applies, namely (a) military hospital ships constructed or adapted by states specially and solely with the view of aiding the wounded, sick and shipwrecked in naval war (Article 1); (b) hospital ships, equipped wholly or in part at the expense of private individuals or officially recognised relief societies of belligerent states (Article 2); (c) hospital ships, equipped wholly or in part at the cost of private individuals or officially recognised relief societies of neutral states (Article 3).
No changes are made in the first two Articles.
Flags of neutral hospital ships.Article 3 contains modifications of the corresponding Article of the Convention of 1899, based on Article 11 of the Geneva Convention of 1906. The Conference of 1899 left unsettled the relations which should exist between neutral hospital ships and belligerents. The question was also raised as regards the flag which such ships ought to fly. In 1907 similar difficulties were experienced by some members of the Committee who felt that the text of Article 11 of the Convention of 1906 was not enough to remove them. The difference in the circumstances under which aid is rendered by a neutral ambulance in land warfare and a neutral hospital ship in naval warfare was felt by some of the Committee to call for different treatment, as hospital ships enjoy greater freedom of action than the neutral ambulances can claim in land warfare. The majority of the Committee considered that, for reasons of military necessity, it was inadvisable to allow neutral hospital ships to operate apart from the special authorisation of one of the belligerents, the view that such ships might desire to aid both belligerents indiscriminately being inacceptable on the ground that to allow complete independence of action to such neutral ships would leave the way open to serious abuses. The alteration in Article 3 now requires such ships to be placed under the control of one of the belligerents, after having received the previous consent of the neutral government. Such ships will henceforth form part of the sanitary service of the belligerent and be placed under his direction. The Report of M. Renault points out that this Article and Article 5 are not quite in harmony with Articles 11 and 22 of the Geneva Convention of 1906; under the latter a neutral ambulance flies two flags, that of the Geneva Convention and that of the belligerent to whose army it is attached, but the neutral hospital ship must fly three flags, namely the two mentioned as well as its own national (neutral) flag. The German draft proposed that neutral hospital ships should be placed au service of one of the belligerents, but on the proposition of M. Van den Heuvel (Belgium) this expression was altered to sous la direction which was deemed to be less stringent.
The duty of hospital ships.Article 4 contains a general statement of the duties which are incumbent on hospital ships, namely, to render aid to all needing it irrespective of nationality. Belligerents are given power of control and detention where necessary. There is no change in this Article.
Distinguishing marks of hospital ships.Article 5 deals with the distinctive colours by which hospital ships are to be distinguished. In paragraph 4 a change was made in accordance with the agreement arrived at in Article 3 as to the flags which a neutral hospital ship is to fly, the principle applied being that of Article 21, par. 2 of the Geneva Convention, 1906. The provision applies to ships detained under Article 4. Under that Article when a hospital ship is detained by a belligerent, if it is a military hospital ship it hauls down its national flag and retains the flag of the Geneva Convention only, but if it is a neutral hospital ship it only hauls down the flag of the belligerent under whose direction it is, retaining its own national flag and the Red Cross flag.
The sixth paragraph of Article 5 is new and refers to the distinctive marks which may be applied to hospital ships at night. The German proposal was that all hospital ships should carry three lights—green, white, green—placed vertically one above the other and separated by at least three metres1 . The question had been raised during the Russo-Japanese War. Russia notified to Japan through the intermediary of the French Government that she proposed to use by night three vertical lights for her hospital ships—white, red, white—but the Japanese Government declined to accept these distinguishing marks as conferring special privileges, “being apprehensive of various possible dangers which might arise as the result of such a contrivance being availed of by an unprincipled enemy2 .” Objections were also raised in Committee to the German proposal which made the carrying of distinctive lights obligatory. A light on a hospital ship may betray the presence of the fleet, and hospital ships must conform to the order for “lights out” in the same way as the ships under a belligerent’s command. During the Japanese attack off Genzan, Korea, even the slightest sign of light was prohibited. “Though almost intolerable for the sick and wounded, especially in the hot season, to have windows and apertures shut up, yet under such circumstances the directions of the authorities should be observed1 .” A warship might also make illicit use of the lights to effect its escape. The Convention leaves the steps which hospital ships and their boats are to take to ensure freedom from interference to be regulated by the belligerent by the special painting being rendered sufficiently plain. This is possible by means of phosphorescent paint or the employment of electric reflectors in case of attack2 .
Article 6 is based on Article 23 of the Geneva Convention of 1906, and has not been accepted by Great Britain. At the Third Plenary Meeting of the Conference Sir Edward Fry said that in signing the Geneva Convention of 1906 his Government had made a reservation of Articles 23, 27 and 28 because a legislative enactment was necessary to give effect to them, and without the assent of Parliament no law could be made in Great Britain. As Articles 6 and 21 of the present Convention were based on these Articles, his Government were for the time obliged to make reservations on them3 .
Sick-bays on warships.Article 7 is new and provides for a situation analogous to that dealt with by Articles 6 and 15 of the Geneva Convention of 1906. In case of a fight on board a warship the sick-bays are to be respected and spared as much as possible. This recalls a condition of warfare more common a century ago than now, when hand-to-hand fighting on board a vessel is an extremely rare occurrence in naval engagements. It is not to be expected that in engagements where the combatants remain at a distance from each other the sick-bays can be respected, and the text of the Article makes it clear that it only refers to conflicts taking place on board the ships themselves.
Abuse of hospital ships.Article 8 is new; the principle of paragraph 1 is taken from Article 7 of the Geneva Convention of 1906. Hospital ships and sick-bays lose their inviolability if they are employed for purposes of injuring the enemy (see also Article 4, paragraph 2 of the present Convention). A case of this kind occurred during the Russo-Japanese War. The Japanese seized, and secured the condemnation of, the Russian hospital ship Orel on 27 May, 1905, because she had been used a short time previously for the accommodation of able-bodied prisoners taken from a captured merchantman, and had otherwise assisted in the hostile operations of the Russians1 .
The second paragraph of Article 8 is based on Article 8 of the Geneva Convention of 1906, but it was not thought necessary to reproduce its provisions in detail. The fact that the staff of the hospital ship or sick-bay are armed for maintaining order or defending sick or wounded, and the presence of wireless telegraphic apparatus on board are not sufficient reasons for withdrawing the protection accorded to such ships or sick-bays. The German draft proposed to allow hospital ships to carry light pieces of artillery as a protection against the dangers of navigation and particularly of piracy2 , but the Committee considered that there was no necessity for the arming of such ships, especially as merchant-ships which run no greater risks are unarmed. The paragraph regarding the presence of wireless telegraphic apparatus on board was inserted on the proposition of the Dutch delegate. The apparatus may often be of great value in enabling hospital ships to communicate either with ships of their own squadron or with land. Any abuse of it can easily be prevented by agents being placed on board, and, if necessary, the apparatus may be removed temporarily under the general powers of control conferred on belligerent commanders by Article 4.
Assistance rendered by merchant-ships on request.Article 9 is new, though it retains the substance of Article 6 of the Convention of 1899; it is based on Article 5 of the Geneva Convention of 1906. By paragraph 1 belligerents may appeal to the charitable zeal of neutral merchantmen to take on board and care for sick and wounded. The assistance thus rendered is purely voluntary, a belligerent cannot compel it. Paragraph 2 governs the situation of ships which have responded to this appeal, as well as those which have of their own accord taken on board shipwrecked, sick and wounded. Such ships are to enjoy “special protection and certain immunities.” These expressions which are borrowed from Article 5 of the Geneva Convention of 1906 are vague but as the Report of M. Renault remarks: “it is scarcely possible to proceed otherwise: everything depends on circumstances. A warship may call upon a ship possibly from a distance, promising, for instance, not to search it. It is obvious that the advantages of the immunities are not so great in naval as in land warfare in which the inhabitants to whom such an appeal is made are exposed to a series of rigorous measures on the part of the invader or occupant. It is before all else a question of good faith. A belligerent should keep the promise which he has made to obtain a service, and the neutral ought not by an appearance of zeal to be able to escape the risk to which his conduct may have rendered him liable. It is, however, certain, on the one hand, that the ships in question may not be captured for the transport of shipwrecked, wounded or sick of a belligerent, and on the other hand, as is expressly stated by Article 6 of the Convention of 1899, they remain subject to capture for violations of neutrality which they may have committed (e.g. contraband of war, breach of blockade)1 .”
There is no immunity accorded to a merchantman belonging to one of the belligerents conveying sick and wounded2 .
Inviolability of hospital staff.Article 10 which deals with the inviolability of the hospital staff is a reproduction of Article 7 of the Convention of 1899 with a slight modification introduced from Article 13 of the Geneva Convention of 1906 as regards the payments to be made to members of the hospital staff temporarily detained by the enemy. “Only the official staff is concerned, that of a relief society having no claim to receive a salary” (Report of M. Renault).
Inviolability of sick and wounded.Article 11 reproduces Article 8 of the Convention of 1899 with the additional words intended to bring under the shelter of inviolability not only wounded and sick sailors and soldiers on board but also other persons officially attached to fleets or armies. Their addition is in harmony with Article 1 of the Geneva Convention of 1906.
Surrender to warship of sick and wounded.Article 12 is new, and settles a very important point which the Convention of 1899 had left unsolved. At the First Peace Conference, Captain Mahan, the United States naval delegate, endeavoured to obtain the insertion of Articles to meet the case of men who by any accident connected with a naval engagement were picked up by a neutral vessel. The commander and some of the crew of the Confederate cruiser Alabama, after her last fight with the Kearsarge off Cherbourg, were picked up by the British yacht Deerhound, the captain of which claimed for the rescued seamen the inviolability of the neutral flag, and their surrender was refused3 . Captain Mahan’s proposal was that in such cases the neutral vessel must surrender the rescued persons, if demand should be made by the other belligerent, or in case no demand was made, that they should not be allowed to serve again during the war. The attempt of the United States delegate was unsuccessful and the Convention of 1899 is silent on this point1 . Under the new Article a belligerent cruiser meeting a hospital ship of any description or a merchant-ship, yacht or boat of any nationality may demand the surrender of the wounded, sick or shipwrecked men on board. M. Renault in the Report to the Committee states that “we do not think that the rule is new; if the formula is not found in the Convention of 1899, the sense of the latter is not doubtful.” This view was combated by Sir Edward Fry who at the Third Plenary Meeting of the Conference stated that “the British Government cannot agree to the opinion expressed in the Report as to the right of a belligerent ship of war to require the surrender of wounded, sick and shipwrecked combatants on board a merchant-ship sailing under a neutral flag. In default of a special Convention, the British Government considers that the recognition of such a right cannot be based on the existing principles of international law2 .” M. Renault in reply stated that he considered that the conclusions of his Report were the expression of existing positive law. The Report contains the following comment on this Article: “A belligerent cruiser meets a military hospital ship, a hospital ship, or a merchant-ship; whatever be the nationality of these ships, it has, either by virtue of Article 4 of the Convention or by virtue of the common law of nations, the right to visit them. It exercises it and finds on board shipwrecked, wounded or sick; it has the right to have them delivered up to it, because they are its prisoners, as is stated in Article 9 of the Convention of 1899, reproduced in Article 14 of our draft. This is only an application of a general principle by virtue of which the combatants of one belligerent who fall into the power of the other are by that fact its prisoners. Obviously, it will not always be to the interest of the belligerent to make use of this right. It will often be to his advantage to leave the wounded and sick where they are and not to take charge of them. But, in such a case, it will be indispensable not to allow wounded or sick to go free who are still in a condition to render great services to their country: and this applies even more strongly in the case of shipwrecked men who are able-bodied. It has been said that it would be inhuman to force a neutral vessel to deliver up wounded which it had charitably picked up. To meet this objection, it is only necessary to reflect on what would be the position in the absence of a Convention. The positive law of nations would permit not only the seizure of individuals who are enemy combatants, found on board a neutral vessel, but the seizure and confiscation of the vessel for having rendered an unneutral service. We may add that if the shipwrecked men were, for example, permitted to escape captivity by the sole fact that they had been taken on board a neutral vessel, the belligerents would disregard the philanthropic action of the neutrals the moment such action might have the result of causing them an irreparable injury. Humanity would not be the gainer1 .”
A strict application of the principles of neutrality would imply, apart from a Convention, that belligerents taken on board neutral ships should not be allowed to take part again in hostilities during the course of the war: but the statement of M. Renault that the mere fact of picking up shipwrecked or wounded men would render a neutral merchant-ship liable to seizure for unneutral service appears incapable of being substantiated as a rule of international law2 . The question was discussed by the United States and Great Britain in regard to the rescue (already referred to) by the Deerhound of the captain and members of the crew of the Alabama on the 19th June, 1864. The solution of the difficulty provided by this Article is, however, one which may be justified by practical considerations. Among those on board a hospital or merchant ship may be found the “brain” of one of the belligerent navies, and “military necessity” might be appealed to as a justification for his removal. A belligerent would take the risk of complications with the neutral Power. Moreover, the neutral captain might from unforeseen circumstances be unable to land the sick, wounded or shipwrecked at a neutral port where they would be interned3 .
Although a belligerent may under this Article remove wounded, sick or shipwrecked combatants, he cannot change the course of a neutral merchant-ship or impose any definite course on it; such orders can only be given to the commanders of hospital ships.
British reservation on Article 12.In signing this Convention on behalf of Great Britain Sir Edward Fry did not fully maintain the reservation made at the Plenary Meeting. The final reservation is as follows: “In affixing their signatures to this Convention, the British Plenipotentiaries declare that His Majesty’s Government understands Article 12 to apply only to the case of combatants rescued during or after a naval engagement in which they have taken part4 .”
This Article therefore would not apply as regards rescues by British merchant-ships of belligerents at a distance from the scene of an engagement, as for instance of men rescued from a ship which had sunk in a storm or as the result of contact with an unanchored floating mine.
Rescue by neutral war-vessel.Article 13 fills a gap left in the Convention of 1899. At the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War on the 8th February, 1904, the captains of the British, French and Italian cruisers at Chemulpo rescued the sailors of the Russian vessels Korietz and Variag, and refused to surrender them to the Japanese. Ultimately after negotiations, the rescued sailors in the possession of the British authorities were, with the consent of the Japanese Government, handed over to the Russians at a neutral port1 . Article 13, which was proposed by the French delegate, now provides that the shipwrecked, sick or wounded picked up by a neutral ship of war are in the same position as that of combatants who take refuge in a neutral territory. They are not to be given up to the adversary, but they should be detained.
Article 14 reproduces Article 9 of the Convention of 1899. It only deals with the treatment of persons, not of ships.
Article 15 reproduces Article 10 of the Convention of 1899 which was excluded from ratification. At the Conference of 1899 this Article was carried only by a bare majority, and in signing the treaty Great Britain, Germany, the United States and Italy reserved liberty of action in regard to it. In consequence of these reservations the Netherland Government suggested that with a view to uniformity—a uniformity which would be endangered by the reservations of these four Powers—the Article should be excluded from ratification by all Powers. This suggestion was acted upon2 .
At the Conference of 1907 the restoration of this Article was proposed by the French delegate and accepted. Under this Article where shipwrecked, wounded or sick are landed at a neutral port with the consent of the local authorities, they must, in default of arrangements to the contrary between the neutral and belligerent states, be guarded by the neutral state so as to prevent them from again taking part in the war. The expenses are to be borne by the state to which such persons belong. M. Renault states that if a neutral merchant vessel, having occasionally picked up wounded or sick, or even shipwrecked persons, arrives at a neutral port without having met a cruiser or without having entered into any agreement, the persons which it lands do not fall under the provisions of this Article: they are free.
Search for shipwrecked and wounded.Article 16 is new, and is based on Article 3 of the Geneva Convention of 1906. The provisions as to the burial or cremation of the dead on land will apply to cases where engagements have taken place near land.
Article 17 is also new, and is reproduced from Article 4 of the Geneva Convention of 1906.
Article 18 corresponds to Article 11 of the Convention of 1899.
Article 19 is new, and corresponds to Article 25 of the Geneva Convention of 1906.
Application of the Convention.Article 20 is new, and corresponds to Article 26 of the Geneva Convention of 1906. It is obviously of great importance, and M. Renault emphasises this in his Report. “The best of rules become a dead letter if measures are not taken in advance for the instruction of those who will have to apply them. The staff of hospital ships or floating hospitals will often have to fulfil a very difficult mission. They must be convinced of the necessity of not taking advantage of the immunities accorded them to commit acts of belligerency: for, to do so would result in the ruin of the Convention and all the humanitarian work of the two Peace Conferences1 .”
Article 21 is new and corresponds to Articles 27 and 28 of the Geneva Convention of 1906, and has not been accepted by Great Britain for the reasons given under Article 6.
Article 22 is new. In case of combined military and naval operations, the present Convention applies to forces afloat and the Geneva Convention of 1906 to the land forces.
Article 23 corresponds to Article 12 of the Convention of 1899 with the additional formulae adopted in the diplomatic clauses of the Conventions of the Conference of 1907.
The remaining Articles call for no observations.
Signatory Powers.This Convention has been signed by all the Powers represented at the Conference except Nicaragua. China makes a reservation of Article 21, and Great Britain of Articles 6 and 21 and also the declaration quoted above on Article 12. Persia reserved the right recognised by the Conference to use the Lion and the Red Sun instead of the Red Cross, and Turkey made a similar reservation for the Red Crescent2 .
Exemption of hospital ships from port dues.A Conference of maritime Powers was held at the Hague in December, 1904, to discuss the status of hospital ships in time of war in regard to their freedom from port dues, etc.
Great Britain did not take part in the Conference, owing to the fact that dues are levied by different authorities in the United Kingdom and legislation would be necessary to give effect to any Convention entered into. The British Minister at the Hague, Sir Henry Howard, in his reply to the invitation of the Netherland Government, stated that his Government was disposed to consider the proposal favourably1 .
The following is a translation of
[1 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 1 (1899), p. 67; Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), pp. 18, 87; La Deux. Confér. T. i. pp. 66, 70; T. iii. pp. 293, 305, 313, 553, 683, 686, 689; Livre Jaune, p. 89; Weissbuch, p. 11; Sir T. Barclay, Problems, etc. p. 199; A. S. Hershey, International Law and Diplomacy, etc. p. 75; F. W. Holls, The Peace Conference at the Hague, Chap. iv. and App. C; T. J. Lawrence, War and Neutrality, etc. Chap. iv.; Idem, International Problems, etc. p. 114; E. Lémonon, La seconde Conférence, p. 526; L. Renault, The Geneva Convention and Maritime Warfare, Am. Journ. of Int. Law, Vol. ii. p. 295 [This is a translation of M. Renault’s Report to the Conference]; S. Takahashi, International Law applied to the Russo-Japanese War, Part ii. Chap. iv.; J. Westlake, War, p. 275.
[2 ]See ante, p. 13.
[3 ]See post, p. 390.
[4 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), p. 87; La Deux. Confér. T. i. p. 70; T. iii. p. 305.
[1 ]La Deux. Confér. T. iii. p. 684.
[2 ]S. Takahashi, op. cit. p. 378.
[1 ]See views of Japanese physicians on lights of hospital ships cited by S. Takahashi, op. cit. pp. 379-381.
[2 ]See report of discussions at the Hague in The Times, 14 July, 1907.
[3 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), p. 21; La Deux. Confér. T. i. p. 67.
[1 ]T. J. Lawrence, International Problems, etc. p. 115. For a full report of this case see S. Takahashi, op. cit. p. 620, where the name of the vessel is given as Aryol.
[2 ]La Deux. Confér. T. i. p. 74; T. iii. p. 685.
[1 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), p. 90; La Deux. Confér. T. i. p. 74; T. ii. p. 309.
[2 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 1 (1899), p. 73.
[3 ]See M. Bernard, The Neutrality of Great Britain during the American Civil War, p. 429; A. S. Hershey, International Law and Diplomacy, etc. p. 77 (note).
[1 ]F. W. Holls, The Peace Conference, pp. 497-506; Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 1 (1899), p. 92.
[2 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), p. 21; La Deux. Confér. T. i. p. 68.
[1 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), p. 91; La Deux. Confér. T. i. p. 75; T. iii. p. 310.
[2 ]See J. Westlake, War, p. 278; E. Lémonon, La seconde Conférence, p. 551.
[3 ]See T. J. Lawrence, International Problems, etc. p. 116.
[4 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 5 (1908); No. 6 (1908), p. 148.
[1 ]A. S. Hershey, International Law and Diplomacy, p. 76; T. J. Lawrence, War and Neutrality, etc. Chap. iv.
[2 ]F. W. Holls, The Peace Conference at the Hague, p. 128.
[1 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), p. 92; La Deux. Confér. T. i. p. 77.
[2 ]Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 6 (1908), p. 148.
[1 ]Sir T. Barclay, Problems, etc. pp. 198, 257.