International Arbitration, from Athens to Locarno

By Jackson H. Ralston | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII
PERMANENT COURT OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE: ITS ORIGIN

248. Antecedent Steps. -- In some ways the present Permanent Court of International Justice sums up the larger part of all prior work for peaceful international settlement. The best labor of writers, idealists, legislators, statesmen, students of international law, finds its present fruition, if not the fruit it will finally be, in this body. Its roots go back deep in the centuries. While it is the natural outcome of the gradual growth in civilization, and not to be attributed largely to the suggestion of any one man or set of men, even those immediately connected with its formation, it is interesting to note, as illustrating the recurrence 'of fundamental ideas, that the plan of an international tribunal was suggested1 by the Frenchman Pierre Dubois in 1305. Nevertheless, we attach importance necessarily to the steps immediately antecedent to the formation. Then it is that the brain moves quicker and the pulse beats faster.

We have noted the fact that shortly before the conclusion of the World War the Scandinavian nations and Holland had busied themselves with preparation of schemes for world peace, including plans for a world court. The situation found recognition in an address by President Wilson at Mount Vernon on July 4, 1918, in which he called for the creation of a political organization which would assure use of the combined force of free nations to prevent aggression and guarantee peace and justice through a final and conclusive tribunal of opinion to which all would submit and which would sanction international agreements not obtainable amicably by the interested nation. The expression was vague, and it seems probable the President thought less of judicial methods than of other portions of the later League plan. This will become manifest in considering his drafts of a League.

The Phillimore Report of March 20, 1918, to the British Cabinet regarding the organization of a League of Nations2 was submitted to President Wilson. This plan recognized arbitration as the most effective and equitable way of settling disputes as to treaty interpretation, questions of international law, or existence of any fact constituting breach of an international obligation, and of determining measures of

____________________
1
Hudson, The Permanent Court of International Justice, 1.
2
Ray Stannard Baker, Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement, III, 67.

-299-

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