The Essentials of International Public Law and Organization

By Amos S. Hershey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
ORGANIZATION AND PROCEDURE OF INTERNATIONAL CONGRESSES AND CONFERENCES

292. Purpose and Character of International Congresses and Conferences. -- The enormous increase in the number, variety, and importance of International Congresses and Conferences1 since the middle of the nineteenth century has been pointed out in Chapter IV.2 The organization and work of the Council and Assembly League of Nations will be discussed in Chapter XXIII. In this connection it will be merely necessary to point out a few of the rules governing the organization and procedure of these bodies.

They usually consist3 of delegates or representatives of a number of Sovereign States clothed with diplomatic privileges and immunities, and bearing full powers and instructions, who meet for the purpose of discussing matters of common interest, or for that of negotiating agreements on certain subjects. The most important are those which meet to make peace and settle great political questions, like the Congress of Vienna in 1815 or that of Berlin in 1878, and the Paris Peace Conference of 1919; to discuss and decide matters of common interest, like the various Pan-American Conferences; or to negotiate great Lawmaking Treaties or World Agreements like the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907.4

____________________
1
These terms appear to be used interchangeably at the present time. Only official Congresses and Conferences are dealt with in this chapter.
2
See, supra, No. 79.
3
Heads of States now seldom attend these Conferences in person. The States represented are usually, though not necessarily, fully sovereign.
4
The number and importance of Lawmaking and Peace Conferences increased during the 19th century. The first important Lawmaking Congress was that of Vienna in 1815, but its work as an International Legislature was entirely secondary. The same is true of the Congress of Paris in 1856. But after 1870 we had a series of lawmaking Conferences and Congresses, beginning with the Brussels Conference of 1874 (including the Hague Peace Conferences), which did not have their origin in the need of a political settlement after a great war or series of wars, but which were called in times of peace for the purpose of preventing or regulating war.

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