Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

honour and vital interests in a supreme degree have, in fact, been decided by arbitration. The Alabama case, the Venezuelan boundary question, the Alaskan fur-seal difficulty, the Alaskan boundary question, all involved either one or the other. It is true that these were matters confined to nations of the same racial origin. But is there reason to suppose that as between Great Britain and France any difficulty involving “national honour” or a “vital interest” would not now be solved by amicable methods ? And has not the solution of the difficulty between Sweden and Norway shown how Scandinavian democracies view armed struggles even on vital questions? And have not Chile and Argentina at another extremity of the globe shown the same repulsion for armed conflicts on all difficulties without exception? These communities have not excluded “vital interests" or national honour" from the scope of their treaties of arbitration.

It is possible that the second Hague Conference will confine itself to the adoption of a general obligatory Convention based on the Anglo-French model, or on the form suggested by the Interparliamentary Union (see pp. 13 and 148), which would be a decided improvement. My suggestions, however, are not confined to what is attainable at the second Hague Conference; and what may not seem feasible as a general measure, might be made the subject of a treaty between specific States, e.g. Great Britain and France, who have already been pioneers in giving a limited compulsory jurisdiction to The Hague Court. In particular, a leading authority on the subject writes me:

I observe that in your project of a treaty to cover cases of “national honour” and “ vital interest” you side with the requirement of a stipulated majority for a decision ... but I have never been disposed to regard it with favour as a permanent plan. I think, however, that your addition of the requirement of an impartial examination of and report upon the opinions of the variant arbitrators is a happy amendment of the plan, and tends to prevent the dead-locking which might otherwise be apprehended.”

[merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

objection of Germany in 1899 was that, if she accepted compulsory arbitration, she would lose the advantage she has, or thinks she has, in the more speedy mobilisation of her forces. . . Other Powers possibly have the same idea. ... I do not share this view, because these Powers could always utilise the same advantages better than their enemy. The objection would be difficult to overcome, though I am strongly in favour of your proposal (see p. 145), and should like to see it admitted in The Hague Convention as a possible form. The fact that it would not bind the Parties to it absolutely and unconditionally may commend it. To my mind it offers two great advantages :-1. the necessary time for national feeling to cool down ; 2. even in case of four voting against two, the decision would have such a great moral effect that no Power would like to disregard it."

A constitutional authority belonging to a neutral State calls my attention to a point of interest in connection with “vital interest” and “national honour.” He observes :

“ We know in ... that the liberal institutions of a small country are sometimes a matter of distrust to their powerful neighbours :-it must be admitted that the conception of political offences, for instance, that freedom of public meetings, freedom of the press, etc., are vital interests, and that the national honour forbids their being in any way affected.”

This very judicious observation has led me to make an alteration in my draft on the subject (see p. 145).

Most of my correspondents are agreed that in the present state of uncertainty of international practice as regards the definition and scope of contraband, and in view of the difficulty of fixing a criterion by which a voyage can be adjudicated with any precision to be "continuous,” these subjects in particular should be submitted to an immediate and thorough examination.

On "continuous voyages” one of my colleagues writes :

“Suppose a war pending between France and Germany, and German or French ports blockaded. Vessels carrying cargoes of foodstuffs bound for, say, Antwerp or Rotterdam might be captured on the High Sea on the ground that Germany or France was in great need of them, and that they would necessarily be forwarded to these countries where they would fetch a higher price. . . . It ought surely not to be possible that such a presumption should suffice to justify seizure.”

If the doctrine of " continuous voyages” is to be applied at all, the constantly increasing ramifications of transit trade seem to make only attenuations possible, and I am afraid my friend's distinction can only be met by adjustment of the estimated loss

[blocks in formation]

.

of profit to circumstances. Would not the clause 4

in
my

draft (p. 169) attenuate the hardship my friend apprehends?

The suggestion in Art. IV. $ (6) of my tentative form of Convention dealing with the rights and obligations of belligerents and neutrals with a view to restricting belligerent Powers of visit and search seems to commend itself to many, but especially as regards mail-steamers, in regard to which a very distinguished authority writes :

“ Arrangements between mail-steamers of a neutral and belligerent, under which loading should take place under the supervision of the belligerent's consul or other agent, and a certificate be given, which, with provision against additional shipment or breaking bulk would ensure the vessel against detention, could, I think, be made."

My proposal as to limiting the area of hostilities (pp. 71 and 156) suggests the following interesting observations to one of my correspondents who has had great practical experience of shipping cases :

“I have serious doubts as to its practicability. Take, for example, the Spanish-American War. The extent of the possible area of hostilities could scarcely be foreseen in the beginning of the war. Moreover, the authorities at the port of loading would scarcely be able to take responsibility for the truth of the required declaration, and great inconvenience might arise to the neutral shippers from want of declarations or from their incorrectness.”

I think my eminent friend has overlooked the condition in my draft (p. 157), that the declaration would only be a bar to visit and search outside the area of hostilities as fixed by each belligerent.

Lastly, a fear is expressed by one of my most valued correspondents that British manliness might be undermined by a long period of peace. He has more confidence in the permanent effectiveness of pacific methods than I have! In fact, however, the growth of democratic feeling has in no country tended to deprive it of its power to feel the thrill of indignation, of its will to assert its just rights by material sacrifice, or of its courage to shed its blood for a righteous cause.

But there have been wars neither righteous, nor necessary, nor even useful, and democracy may become capable of making distinctions for itself, for unquestionably there are unconscious workings of the public mind which develop its capacity. Everybody, whose business it is or

[blocks in formation]

who chooses to watch its moods and evolution, knows how it is affected by every breath of feeling, as a tree rustles to every breath of wind, and how a furious blast may strain it to snapping. Still the root of human reason gains strength from every gust; and if Western peoples grow more peaceful because more reasonable, this can be no parallel to the historic cases of sybarite or subject peoples emasculated by long periods of non-responsibility.

I have left a certain number of controverted questions untouched, the volume being confined to matters which seem ripe enough to be brought before the second Hague or other International Conferences, or to be otherwise dealt with by diplomacy: Any haste in giving finality to international rights and obligations is obviously still more undesirable than hasty domestic legislation. Moreover, without the approval of popular feeling, and a commencement, so to speak, of ratification by actual practice, any proposals to fix them by contractual methods have a purely theoretical character, however interesting. Hence, though the suggestions I have made are to be regarded rather as possible than as proposed solutions, they have in all cases been more or less tested by application, except, of course, where the object is to enable the reader to see how some suggested reforms work out when formulated with precision.

Mr. Andrew Carnegie has made out a strong case in favour of a “World Council,” meeting periodically as a sort of parliament of nations, to deliberate on the common interests of civilised mankind. He has summed up the idea in what he has termed a League of Peace. Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, in turn, has suggested that it would be a noble task for Great Britain to endeavour to initiate such a League. To talk seriously of a League of Peace is not mere optimism,” as some short-sighted writers, who dub all progress unpractical, have characterised it. Its foundations already exist in the Concert of Europe. The Berlin Conference on West African Affairs, and that of Algeciras on the settlement of Morocco, have gone further, and given effect to the claim of all civilised States to deliberate upon the common economic interests of the civilised world. The Hague Conference was a World Council called

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

together for the purpose of endeavouring to preserve the peace of the world without any contingent employment of force. The Pan - American Congress, combining the objects of all three, is developing into a permanent Council of the Nations of the American continent. This co-operation among nations for the preservation, on the one hand, of order and law, and, on the other, of goodwill and peace, shows that it is no mere dream to think that the Conferences at The Hague may become periodical, extend the range of their objects, and develop into a World Council.

Young ambitious nations in the buoyant venturesomeness of youth may be tempted to regard the more or less permanent settlement of the affairs of mankind in which the older nations are setting an example as contrary to their interest. Isolation of any nation, however, is not only an economic, but is also a military danger to itself in the presence of possible combinations of nations. Advantages for attack provoke a corresponding counter-development of the forces of resistance. A State which declines to listen to the peaceful overtures of its neighbours, on the ground that it would be quixotic to curtail its disproportionate ability to assail them, necessarily soon finds itself obliged, in the alternative, to increase its strength for the purposes of possible defence. And thus competition in armaments and combinations continues in response to realities of self-preservation which can have no end till this insensate rivalry is checked by an international agreement. If such an agreement is not attainable by reason of any common resulting benefit to all nations alike, might it not form part of some give-and-take adjustment of reasonable requirements confined to those chiefly concerned ?

But the permanent success of all these efforts, and those of future Hague Conferences, to assure the peace of the world, is dependent on another work which is essential to their effective realisation, viz. the development of reciprocal good feeling among European peoples. In this work King Edward VII.

1 Some passages of this Preface are reproduced in my article on “the Second Hague Conference" in the June (1907) Fortnightly Review.

« PreviousContinue »