International Arbitration, from Athens to Locarno

By Jackson H. Ralston | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIV
HISTORY OF HAGUE CONFERENCES

218. The original call . -- On August 12, 1898, without preliminary notice, Count Mouravieff, Russian Foreign Minister, at his weekly reception at St. Petersburg handed the diplomatic representatives a note reciting the importance of "ensuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace, and above all of limiting the progressive development of existing armaments." After describing the evil effects of the then present conditions the Foreign Minister stated that the Russian Czar had commanded him to propose to the governments having accredited representatives at the Russian Court the holding of a conference to consider the problem.1

The circular mentioned met with great favor among the nations, and in consequence on January 11, 1899 (new style), Count Mouravieff presented a second circular to the diplomatic representatives at St. Petersburg suggesting that in the opinion of the Russian Government it would be possible forthwith to proceed to a preliminary exchange of ideas, with the object of (1) limiting armaments, and (2) discussing prevention of armed conflicts by pacific means. He summarized subjects for discussion and his eighth proposition looked to

Acceptance, in principle, of the use of good offices, mediation, and voluntary arbitration, in cases where they are available, with the purpose of preventing armed conflicts between nations; understanding in relation to their mode of application and establishment of a uniform practice in employing them.

Count Mouravieff thought the conference should not sit at the capital of one of the great powers where were centered political interests which might impede its work.

About a month later Count Mouravieff informed the diplomatic representatives that the Netherlands Government informed him, pursuant to inquiry from him, that it assented to a meeting at The Hague.

Not included in the invitation were the Pope, the South African and the Latin-American Republics, except Mexico.

On April 7, 1899, the Netherlands Government extended a formal

____________________
1
For this and other following recited documents reference may be had inter alia to Actes et documents relatifs au programme de la conférence de la paix, The Hague 1899; Holls, The Peace Conference at The Hague; Scott, The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907; Scott, Instructions to the American Delegates to the Hague Peace Conferences and Their Official Reports; Moore, International Law Digest, VII, 80.

-253-

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