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Sanitary precautions have been imposed to make international intercourse more safe.
All these things, in making it easier and safer to travel from one country to another, and in extending the protection of many nations to the rights of property of the citizens of one, make for a policy of commercial competition. Huxley, in 1894, expressed his views of one effect of this in some weighty words. He had been asked to sign a memorial in favor of a general reduction of armaments. This he declined, on the ground that it would be a futile expression of opposition to a natural tendency of the times.
In my opinion, [he wrote,] it is a delusion to attribute the growth of armaments to the “ exactions of militarism.” The “exactions of industrialism," generated by international commercial competition, may, I believe, claim a much larger share in prompting that growth.
Against such exactions of industrialism, international congresses undoubtedly interpose a considerable counteracting influence in tending to turn competition into co-operation, or at least to equalize opportunities for commercial success.
But if occasions for war have not been diminished, its attendant miseries have been softened. The virtual abolition of privateering followed the declaration of the Congress of Paris, in 1856. Humanity to the wounded has been safeguarded and the infliction of unnecessary suffering in combat restricted by the declarations of St. Petersburg and Brussels, the Geneva conventions, and the organization of the Red Cross societies.
The settlement of differences between citizens of different countries before the courts of justice has been made more easy by the adoption of uniform rules of private international law. Ten nations of Europe have now a common system of adjudication in this respect, in regard to the marriage contract and its discharge by divorce, the appointment and authority of guardians, and certain matters of judicial procedure; and to some of the conventions for this purpose as many as fourteen powers have adhered.
This has been the work of the four successive conferences at The Hague for the advancement of private international law, held between 1893 and 1904; and a similar conference at Montevideo in 1888 has brought similar results to five South American powers.
6 Life and letters of Thomas H. Huxley, II, 397.
The initiative in the movement leading to these memorial achievements was taken by Italy, as early as 1861. Mancini was its father, and after more than twenty years of agitation, the government, by a circular dispatch to its ministers abroad, brought the question of convening a congress of the world to the attention of all the powers. The way meanwhile had been smoothed by the action of the Netherlands, which in 1874 had proposed to all the European powers an international conference on the subject of the execution of foreign judgments. Italy, Belgium, Russia, Austria, Denmark, and Sweden signified their approbation of the scheme. France made no answer. England and Norway declined to adhere to it. The idea, however, had now become so familiar that when Italy, after eight years, revived the project, there was so general an inclination manifested to try the experiment that she was encouraged to issue a formal call for such a congress as Mancini planned. The invitations were general, the place of meeting to be Rome, and the time November, 1885. Fourteen European and seven American powers accepted the invitation. A program was prepared looking to a treaty as to the execution of foreign judgments, and to a serious consideration of the expediency of attempting a general codification of private international law. Unfortunately, an epidemic of cholera swept over Italy during 1885, and the abandonment of the congress was the result.?
In public international law, a unifying influence of the first importance has proceeded from the conference at The Hague in 1899. But The Hague tribunal has even a higher aim than the unification of international law. It is a court of the world, and, as such, has only to prove itself worthy of the name to bring before it half the controversies between nations, which otherwise might lead to war.
It is not too much to say that this great agency for peace and right is the natural fruit of the preceding international congresses of the nineteenth century. They have broadened the law of nations. They have made it more humane. They have measured it by the rules of justice. It holds a firmer seat, by virtue of such declarations by assembled powers as that of the Conference of London, in 1871, on the Black Sea question, at which four great and two minor powers asserted it to be
* Torres Campos, Bases de una Legislación sobre Extraterritorialidad, 193–6.
un principe essentiel du droit du gens qu'aucune puissance ne puisse se liberer des engagements d'un traitè ne en modifier les stipulations, sans le consentement des puissance contractantes au moyen d'un arrangement amiable.
(It is undoubtedly true that the earlier diplomatic congresses had very little connection with philanthropy or abstract right. They were convened to compose particular international differences. They looked, however, steadily to the future.) They felt their power. new force in world-politics was being evolved, and they fully appreciated it.
Professor Andrews has fitly characterized the Congress of Vienna
a council of the powers, the object of which was to anticipate and control any differences arising between state and state.8
The great powers saw from the first the immense possibilities for Europe, within the grasp of every such assembly, and the ease with which they, by concerted action, could control its action. The treaty of Paris, concluded in the autumn of 1815, between Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, made provision for future conferences of these powers at fixed intervals, to consider, inter alia, the measures which at each of these periods shall be considered the most salutary for the repose and prosperity of nations, and for the maintenance of the peace of Europe.
The results of the congresses of Paris (1818) at which France joined the concert; Troppau (1820); Laibach (1821), and Verona (1822), showed that Europe was disinclined to tolerate, except in case of some extreme emergency, an attempt by any knot of nations to control the internal policies of other nations.
A recent act of Congress, in respect to one matter relating to the international policy of the United States, looks to an invitation to other powers to assist in its enforcement by concerted action. This is the Immigration Act of February 20, 1907, which confers authority on the President to call, at his discretion, an international conference for the purpose of framing international agreements or treaties to regulate all matters pertaining to the immigration of aliens into the United States.
* The Historical Development of Modern Europe, 1815-1850, 102.
It deserves note that little has been accomplished by racial or continental
congresses, as compared with those of a universal character.
Those of the South American states have generally proposed much and achieved little. It may be doubted if the three Pan-American congresses have been of any substantial effect in bringing the republics of the continent together. A central bureau has been organized, and Mr. Carnegie has given it a home; but how much better do we understand our southern neighbors, or they us? The weaker powers had hoped that the United States would stand between them and any encroachments of the stronger ones. Finding that there is to be no such new reading of the Monroe Doctrine, they are already declaring that the Congress of Rio de Janeiro may be the last of its kind, and showed the United States ready to do nothing but utter the platitudes of a stump speaker about right and justice, while looking for nothing but trade favors.'
The international congresses of a diplomatic nature have paved the way for an ever increasing number of those of an unofficial character. These have been greatly multiplied since the introduction of World's Fairs. Such expositions of art and industry make convenient centers for gatherings of men of different countries for a comparison of views on subjects of common interest. Eighty international congresses were planned in connection with one World's Fair, and thirty or forty have been organized by the managers of others. Many of the attempts to collect assemblages of this sort have been flat failures. Others have borne good fruit. Quite a number have resulted in a permanent organization, which has since held stated sessions and done solid work.
A large number of international societies also exist of an origin quite independent of any exposition, and with a title to success resting wholly on their own merits.
A list of the leading congresses, associations, and societies of an unofficial description organized during the last century is appended to this article. They have been roughly classified by their objects,
See the outspoken comments on the Rio de Janeiro Congress by A. E. Holder of Lima in the Blatter für vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft, etc., March, 1907,
and it will be seen that of these there are few of more than local interest that have not been made the subject of consideration by such an assemblage. The number of meetings held by such bodies is over six hundred.
In one respect the unofficial congress tends, even more strongly than the official congress, to promote the solidarity of the world. Its members come together as servants of no master. They meet on a common footing. They are responsible only to themselves. As scientific investigators, or men of similar business pursuits, or perhaps humanitarians, they are drawn together by natural tendencies.
Augustus Birzell has remarked 10 that John Locke was fond of referring questions to something he called "the bulk of mankind” – an undefinable, undignified, unsalaried body, of small account at the beginning of controversies, but all-powerful at their close.
This unofficial set of men has discovered in our day that it has the advantage of numbers, and that in international gatherings called by no other authority than that of some of its members, it can exert no small influence towards preventing controversies, as well as towards ending them.
Our Secretary of State, in his recent South American tour, said in one of his addresses that the chief office of a foreign minister was to interpret the men of the nation to which he was accredited to the men of the nation by which he was accredited. The more the interpreters, and the freer the opportunity to interpret, the better will all peoples understand each other. International gatherings, of the kind now under consideration, afford precisely that opportunity. Those who attend them soon come to look through national peculiarities of thought or expression to the common humanity which lies behind. Friendships and connections are thus made that have no unimportant effect both on the literature and the industries of the world. Every nation is kept informed of the progress of civilization in every other, not by the cold reflection of the printed page, but by the warmer impression derived from immediate personal intercourse, unembarrassed by official formalities.
It is certain that of late years, as one political society is compared with others, there is noticed a sameness of color and movement, an
10 In the name of the Bodleian, 311.