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XIV.: Declaration prohibiting the Discharge of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons. - 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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Declaration prohibiting the Discharge of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons.
The Undersigned, Plenipotentiaries of the Powers invited to the Second International Peace Conference at The Hague, duly authorized to that effect by their Governments,
Inspired by the sentiments which found expression in the Declaration of St Petersburg of the 29th November (11th December), 1868, and being desirous of renewing the Declaration of The Hague of the 29th July, 1899, which has now expired,
The Contracting Powers agree to prohibit, for a period extending to the close of the Third Peace Conference, the discharge of projectiles and explosives from balloons or by other new methods of a similar nature.
The present Declaration is only binding on the Contracting Powers in case of war between two or more of them.
It shall cease to be binding from the time when, in a war between the Contracting Powers, one of the belligerents is joined by a non-Contracting Power.
The present Declaration shall be ratified as soon as possible.
The ratifications shall be deposited at The Hague.
A procès-verbal shall be drawn up on the receipt of each ratification, of which a duly certified copy shall be sent through the diplomatic channel to all the Contracting Powers.
Non-Signatory Powers may accede to the present Declaration. For this purpose they must make known their accession to the Contracting Powers by means of a written notification, addressed to the Netherland Government, and communicated by it to all the other Contracting Powers.
In the event of one of the High Contracting Parties denouncing the present Declaration, such denunciation shall not take effect until a year after the notification made in writing to the Netherland Government, and forthwith communicated by it to all the other Contracting Powers.
This denunciation shall only affect the notifying Power.
In faith whereof the Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Declaration.
Done at The Hague, the 18th October, 1907, in a single copy, which shall remain deposited in the archives of the Netherland Government, and of which duly certified copies shall be sent, through the diplomatic channel, to the Contracting Powers.
Declaration prohibiting the discharge of projectiles and explosives from balloons1 .
The Circular of Count Mouravieff of the 11th June, 1899, suggested as one of the topics for the consideration of the First Peace Conference “the restriction of the explosives already existing, and the prohibition of the discharge of projectiles or explosives of any kind from balloons or by any similar means2 .” The subject was taken into consideration by the First Committee under the presidency of M. Beernaert and the foregoing Declaration was adopted. Notwithstanding the strenuous attempt of Captain Crozier, the United States delegate, to make the Declaration one of a permanent character, it was only accepted for a period of five years, which expired on the 4th September, 1905. Count Benckendorff’s Circular suggested the reconsideration of the matter by the Second Peace Conference and the Belgian delegate introduced the topic by moving the renewal of the Declaration in the same terms as in 18993 . The subject was considered by the Second Committee over which M. Beernaert presided, when amendments were introduced by the Russian and Italian delegates.
The Russian amendment was “to replace the general and temporary prohibition by a permanent restriction prohibiting the discharge from balloons of projectiles or explosives against undefended towns, villages, houses or buildings4 .” The Italian amendment was to the same effect as the Russian and was with a view of rendering the Declaration permanent, whereas the Belgian proposal was to renew the Declaration for a further period of five years; it further required that a balloon to be employed in operations of war should be “dirigeable et monté par un équipage militaire.”
The object of the Russian amendment was ultimately attained by the insertion in Article 25 of the Regulations for the law of war on land of the prohibition to attack or bombard undefended towns, villages etc., by any means whatever5 .
The discussion on the various projects took place at the meeting of the First Sub-Committee of the Second Committee on the 7th August, 19071 . The developments in the science of aerostatics since 1899 caused several states which had supported the Declaration in 1899 either to refrain from voting or to oppose the proposal. The French delegate (M. Renault) pointed out that it was an unlawful act to bombard churches, hospitals etc. in whatever way the explosives were fired, but that it was perfectly lawful to endeavour to destroy arsenals, barracks etc., whether the explosives were discharged from cannon or balloon. The problem of aerial navigation was progressing so rapidly that he was not prepared to forego the advantage of profiting by new discoveries which did not in any way tend to make the conduct of war less humane2 .
The Belgian delegate urged the renewal of the Declaration to show the humanitarian spirit of the Congress by giving the lie to those who affirmed that it had only been accepted in 1899 because at the time the science of aerostatics was so little advanced that there was then no chance of balloons being used for the purpose of discharging explosives3 .
Lord Reay asked if it was not enough to have two elements in which nations might give free course to their animosities and settle their quarrels, without adding a third. Anticipating the subject of the limitation of expenditure on armaments he urged that a beginning might be made with regard to instruments of aerial warfare. Nations were already groaning under the increasing burdens of naval and military armaments, let the Conference act, he said, while there was yet time and thus prohibit a new scourge more terrible in its effect than the instruments of war whose field of action they were endeavouring to limit4 .
The Belgian proposal was carried in Committee by 28 votes (2 of these, Germany and Roumania, being conditional on unanimity) to 6 (the Argentine Republic, Spain, France, Montenegro, Persia and Russia); 10 countries not being represented.
The question was then raised as to whether the Russian proposal should be put, but on Count Tornielli moving the Italian proposal, M. Tcharykow accepted its principle. This proposal consisted of two Articles: (1) It is forbidden to discharge projectiles and explosives from balloons which are not dirigible and sent up by a military force. (2) The bombardment by military balloons is subject to the same restrictions accepted for land and sea warfare in so far as this is compatible with the new method of fighting1 . The German delegate pointed out that the Italian proposal dealt with two distinct matters and asked that a division should be taken on each. He said that as regards the first it was possible to discharge projectiles from balloons which were not dirigible, and further there was no connection between the power to direct balloons and that of discharging projectiles from them2 . The 1st Article of the Italian amendment was carried by 21 votes to 8 with 6 abstentions, Article 2 was also carried by 31 votes to 1 with 3 abstentions3 .
The matter came before the full meeting of the Second Committee on the 14th August, when the French proposal for the addition of the words “by any means whatever” was made to Article 25 of the “Regulations” of 4 H. C. 1907, and the Declaration in the form proposed by the Belgian delegate was recommended to the Conference4 .
The Report was considered at the Fourth Plenary Meeting of the Conference on the 17th August, when Sir Edward Fry moved to replace the words “for a period of five years,” recommended by the Commission, by the words “until the termination of the Third Peace Conference.” This was carried by 28 to 8 with 8 abstentions5 ; but the renewal of the Declaration for a period of five years was also carried by 29 to 8 with 7 abstentions. In presenting his Report on the drafting of the Final Act at the Tenth Plenary Meeting of the Conference on the 17th October, 1907, M. Renault recalled the fact that the Declaration was voted by 29 for, 8 against and 7 abstentions. It may be asked, he said, why it should appear in the Final Act, as it was not accepted unanimously. The answer was that the Drafting Committee had, before inserting it in the Final Act, ascertained that the states voting against it raised no objection to this proceeding6 . Nothing is said in the Report regarding the fact that the Belgian form of the Declaration received a larger number of votes than the British, but the Declaration stands in the form proposed by Sir Edward Fry, and in this form it has been signed.
Signatory Powers.The Declaration has been signed by 27 states out of the 44 present at the Conference. The following have not signed: Germany, Chili, Denmark, Spain, France, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Roumania, Russia, Servia, Sweden and Venezuela.
With the exception of Austria-Hungary, all the great European military Powers have refused to agree to the prohibition contained in this Declaration. A great opportunity of making a beginning in the restriction of expenditure on armaments has thus been lost, and the allegations of those to whom the Belgian delegate referred have not been answered. The bombardment of undefended towns etc. by projectiles from balloons is not a legitimate act of warfare, but 17 states retain the right to make use of this method of warfare against such places as do not come under that undefined description.
Declaration II (1899).
[1 ]Conférence internationale de la Paix, 1899, Part ii. First Committee, p. 49; De Martens, Nouveau Recueil de Traités (2nd series), Vol. xxvi. p. 994; La Deux. Confér. T. i. pp. 87, 104; T. iii. pp. 15, 148-159, 252; Parl. Papers, Misc. No. 4 (1908), pp. 25, 106-8; Livre Jaune, p. 77; Weissbuch, p. 7; Bonfils-Fauchille, Le Droit international, pp. 859-863 (with bibliography on the subject of La guerre aérienne); G. B. Davis, The amelioration of the rules of war on land, Amer. Journ. of Inter. Law, Vol. ii. p. 74; Idem, The launching of projectiles from balloons, Vol. ii. p. 528; Idem, Elements of International Law (3rd ed.), pp. 547-550; E. Lémonon, La seconde Conférence de la Paix, pp. 382-394; J. Westlake, War, p. 274; R. P. Hearne, Aerial warfare; T. E. Holland, The laws of war on land, pp. 41, 81, 123; J. B. Scott, The Hague Peace Conferences, Vol. i. p. 649.
[2 ]See ante, p. 40.
[3 ]See La Deux. Confér. T. iii. p. 252.
[4 ]Ibid. T. i. p. 104; T. iii. p. 15.
[5 ]See ante, p. 269; see also La Deux. Confér. T. iii. p. 16.
[1 ]La Deux. Confér. T. iii. pp. 150-9.
[2 ]Ibid. p. 152.
[3 ]Ibid. p. 153. See the remarks of M. de Lapradelle on this subject in La Revue générale de Droit international public, 1899, p. 691.
[4 ]La Deux. Confér. p. 153.
[1 ]La Deux. Confér. T. iii. p. 155.
[2 ]Ibid. p. 157.
[3 ]Ibid. pp. 158-9.
[4 ]Ibid. p. 16. See ante, pp. 269-270. The first paragraph of Article 1 of 9 H. C. 1907, which forbids the bombardment by naval forces of undefended ports, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings, does not contain the words “by any means whatever.” From the discussions in the Sub-Committee it would appear that the members considered that the discharge of projectiles from balloons whether by a military or naval force was governed by the same rules. (See Article 2 of the Italian proposal.)
[5 ]Ibid. T. i. pp. 87-8.
[6 ]Ibid. T. i. p. 583.