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THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
In the last number of the JOURNAL a comment appeared giving the aims and purposes of the proposed American Institute of International Law and stating the progress which had been made toward its organization. The proposal to create such an institution was well received by the publicists of every Latin American state, as well as by a large number of European publicists, members of the Institute of International Law. The constitution and by-laws were approved by the publicists of the different American countries to which they were sent, so that on October 12, 1912, the proposers of the Institute, who were then in Washington, felt themselves justified in declaring it founded as of the date of October 12, 1912.
The officers of the American Institute were selected to serve until the first meeting, which it is expected will be held in Washington as soon as the difficulties incident to the arrangement of such a meeting and the great distances which its members will have to travel will permit. The officers are Mr. Elihu Root (United States) Honorary President; Mr. James Brown Scott (United States) President; Mr. Alejandro Alvarez (Chile) Secretary General; Mr. Luis Anderson (Costa Rica) Treasurer.
It was thought advisable to issue a circular letter to the publicists of the American republics who had collaborated in the organization of the American Institute, which should state not merely the steps preliminary to its foundation, but put in definite and final form the aims and purposes. which the proposers had in view and which, with the co-operation of the members, can, it is believed, be largely, if not wholly, realized. This circular letter is appended without comment to the present brief notice, in order that the English readers of the JOURNAL, as well as those who receive the Spanish edition, may have accurate knowledge of the Institute which has been created and which, it is hoped, will be a factor not merely in the development of international law and the dissemination of its principles, but also in drawing together in harmonious cooperation the publicists of Pan-America.
AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
Dear Sir and Colleague:
Washington, D. C., October 12, 1912.
On October 10, 1911, a confidential note was addressed to a certain number of publicists of the American nations, in order to learn their opinion upon the time
liness of founding an American Institute of International Law. The idea of creating such an Institute was everywhere received with enthusiasm. It was likewise cordially welcomed in Europe by eminent authorities on international law, and their approval was a source of the greatest encouragement to us. Under date of July 4, 1912, a draft constitution and set of by-laws were laid before the American publicists. With this document there was sent a new circular, requesting them to inform us of their full and complete adherence. It was not long before they so informed us. Encouraged by this success and confident of the future, we have therefore decided to set to work without further delay.
A first step was necessary: we have just taken it. On October 12, 1912, the American Institute of International Law was declared founded at Washington.
But it is not sufficient to create an institution; the task to be accomplished must be determined, the road to be followed must be laid out. In our first note we sketched the aim of the new institution; it seems to us advisable to mention it again and to lay before you the program which, in our opinion, this aim requires us to carry out.
The object of the American Institute of International Law is to realize an aspiration which has always dominated the political life of the states of the New World: to find the means of assuring peace and to tighten the bonds of solidarity which nature and history have created between these states. It is a stupendous piece of work and a difficult task, but the progress and evolution of the American countries in international life will aid us.
This aspiration toward the reign of peace is now universal. And the nations across the seas are united by it in a common desire for its realization.
It is a commonplace that the best way to obtain peace is to instruct and strengthen public opinion in the sense of justice, as well as to subject existing international relations to juridical regulation. But how to conceive and give the proper direction to this regulation?
The complexity of the problems which are foremost in the life of nations henceforth gives a new direction to international law. The relations between states are no longer, as formerly, of an individualistic or metaphysical character. There is a desire to determine in a uniform manner principles which are to-day indefinite or divergent. This determination is brought about according to the ideas of existing relations, keeping in mind, however, the progress and improvements which civilization permits.
These characteristics of international law are in very great evidence in the activities of the international peace conferences which met at The Hague in 1899 and 1907, the latter of which had brought together nearly all the states of the world. After having established the principle that they desired "to extend the empire of law and strengthen the sense of international justice" (preamble to the convention for the peaceful settlement of international disputes), they recognized (a fact which is more important) that in default of juridical principles, there should be recourse first to the principles of international law, and, in their default, to the general principles of justice and equity [preamble to the convention concerning the laws and customs of land warfare (1907), and convention relative to the establishment of an international prize court (1907), Art. 7, section 2].
The states of America, perhaps more than the states of Europe, have endeavored to bring about, by means of conventions, uniformity in the principles of international law. In their agreements they have always been inspired by the ideas of their political life and liberal, just and fraternal principles. Their desire for a codification of international law recently reached the starting-point of its accomplishment. In the month of June last, a conference of jurisconsults took place at Rio de Janeiro which, after having decided upon the basis of preliminary work, resolved itself into several commissions in order to strive in all conscience for the accomplishment of the work undertaken.
Given the direction of modern international law, the institutions which devote themselves to the study of this law should necessarily take as a guide for their labors this tendency arising from the unanimous will of the states.
The new Institute purposes in the first place to aid in the scientific development of international law by taking the initiative in establishing its principles and determining its rules, which are to-day vague or ill-defined, and even non-existent. It will endeavor in this regulation, to meet the exigencies of the life of nations and the idea of justice and solidarity.
It will strive also to assure, as much as possible, a unity of thought upon these matters, especially among the American nations. Will not this unity be the happiest prelude to the general agreement of the states, without distinction of continent? An eminent jurisconsult, who from the very beginning has lent his aid to our undertaking in order to present it to the European public, has very justly said:
The Second Peace Conference, by calling to The Hague all the states of America, established the fact that they did not agree upon certain points. All of them have not the same conception either of the law of peace or of the law of war. But how can Europe be persuaded of the correctness of American views, if America is not already previously convinced? And, on the other hand, with what authority will not American propositions be clothed when they proceed, not from such and such a state, but from America as a whole, who, having studied them in the American Institute of International Law, will have voted upon them in Pan American Conferences?
That is not, however, the only task that the Institute has given itself.
The geographical situation, the history and the political life of the states of the New World have presented special problems and brought forth conditions of their
In the solution of these problems and in the examination of these conditions, the general principles universally accepted must be applied, when possible. But, in default of such application, it will be proper to enlarge and even to develop these principles, following the concept of justice and keeping in mind the express or tacit desires of the American states.
This aspect of international law, which may be called American, in no way implies a desire on the part of the Institute to create a special law for its continent different from universal international law. In regulating the problems and conditions which interest the states of the New World, the new Institute will not be constructing a system of its own any more than the Pan-American Conferences have done so. The states of America believe that international law should keep its true physiognomy and
its universal character; but it is also their bounden duty to solve together international problems which are clearly American and which have thus far remained unsolved. We are happy to state that our eminent European colleagues, who have been kind enough to encourage us in our work, have expressed an opinion upon this point which is in conformity with our own.
In order to carry out its scientific aim, the Institute will aid in the work of codifying international law, which the American states have already proposed to undertake. It is a stupendous task, which will require a vast amount of preparatory work, accurate documentation, minute critical study and careful discrimination. But however arduous the task may be, it is not impossible. Moreover, a scientific institution is in a better position to accomplish this work than official assemblies.
In certain American countries publications of a kind to facilitate such a task have appeared. Thus, in the United States there is the remarkable Digest of International Law of the learned Professor Moore. It is to be desired that all the states take the initiative in publishing similar works, of more modest proportions. To facilitate the publication of such works the Institute will issue diplomatic documents as well as the texts of laws, treaties, arbitral awards, etc., concerning the states of the New World, classifying them methodically.
The codification of international law is not sufficient in itself. Its interpretation and application must also be assured. This interpretation and application cannot be left to the free will or pleasure of a state. And, in this matter, the influence of the old system of civil law, which gave logical argumentation a preponderant rôle, must be avoided, and a practical mind brought to bear, which will render synonymous the expressions "law," "justice" and "equity." The necessity of assuring such application and such interpretation of international law did not, indeed, escape the sharp eyes of the diplomats who sat at The Hague. They voted, indeed, as an annex to the first voeu of the Second Peace Conference, a project having in view the organization of a Court of Arbitral Justice. And the first article of this project clearly indicates the character of the court; it should be "free and easy of access, composed of judges representing the various juridical systems of the world and capable of assuring the continuity of arbitral jurisprudence."
Finally, it will be the purpose of the Institute to form and direct fundamentally the public opinion of the American states by becoming, as much as possible, the organ of the juridical conscience of their continent. Without public opinion, there can be no true international law. International law will find its real support in public opinion rather than in force, for public opinion requires that the law which is established shall be applied everywhere. With this end in view, the by-laws of the new Institute provide for the establishment of national societies, which will be composed of an unlimited number of members. One such society has already been founded in Mexico, and several are in process of formation in other countries. It is our earnest hope that the charter members of the Institute in each state will direct all their efforts to create at once this indispensable organ.
In carrying on its activities according to the tendencies of modern international law and keeping in mind the necessities and aspirations of the American continent, the new Institute will not be the rival of the older institution, the Institute of Interna
tional Law, but its collaborator. It will assist in preparing and facilitating the tasks of both the world conferences and the Pan American conferences. Its establishment is timely, for it meets a real necessity. This the European publicists well understood, since their authoritative word has sustained our efforts from the beginning. We include them all in the same grateful thought, because of the kindly interest which they have shown in our work.
Our gratitude must also go forth to our colleagues in America, the members of the Third Commission of the Conference of Rio de Janeiro, who deigned to honor us with a vote of approval by acclamation.
Finally, Mr. Elihu Root is specially entitled to our profound gratitude. As statesman and publicist, having ever at heart the promotion of peace and harmony among the states of the New World, the eminent jurisconsult has not hesitated to attach himself to our cause. He heartily commended our idea, he gave his support without reserve to our project; he has given us the most striking proof of his sympathy by accepting the honorary presidency of the American Institute of International Law. The authority of his name is for us the surest guarantee of success.
We have the honor to hand you herewith the constitution and by-laws of the new Institute, which have been approved by the great majority of the members. Such modifications as are deemed necessary will be made at a meeting which we hope will soon take place.
In conformity with the authority which the charter members have given us by approving the constitution, the following temporary organization has this day been effected:
The American Society for Judicial Settlement of International Disputes held its third annual meeting at Washington, December 20-21, 1912, under the presidency of His Excellency Simeon E. Baldwin, Governor of Connecticut. The society was founded in 1910, for the purpose of forwarding the establishment of a truly permanent international court.1
The first annual meeting was devoted to a discussion of the importance of judicial settlement of international disputes, the various ways in
1 For a statement of the aims and purposes of the society, see editorial comment in this JOURNAL for January, 1911, Vol. V, p. 193.