International Arbitration, from Athens to Locarno

By Jackson H. Ralston | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

We are often told, and with truth, that the modern era of international arbitrations began with the year 1794 when the Jay Treaty between the United States and Great Britain was signed. Except, however, for the Geneva award of 1872, the matters arbitrally decided usually have been until recently of minor importance. In fact little of permanent and far-reaching judicial character has taken place until within the past forty years. True it is, of course, that procedure was slowly evolving during the entire period and a better understanding of the subject-matter was gradually being reached.

During the last two-score years, however, advances have proceeded very rapidly. To realize their imposing character we shall enumerate some of the most salient events.

In 1889 the first Pan-American Conference met in the city of Washington and declared itself in favor of broad arbitration of international disputes. This was followed at intervals by five successors, all working in the same general direction. The last meeting was at Havana in February 1928 with an adjourned meeting, now in session, devoted to the consideration exclusively of arbitration and conciliation.

There followed in 1899 and 1907 the two Hague Peace Conferences, the first initiating and the second perfecting the Permanent Court of Arbitration as well as the procedure of International Commissions of Inquiry, the second conference also taking a decided stand against the forcible collection of national contract debts.

Again in 1907 was installed the Central American Court of Justice, which lasted for ten years and possessed a jurisdiction which, for extent of power, though operating within a narrow radius, has not since been equaled.

Even as brief a summary as the present should not omit reference to the Bryan Peace Treaties, providing as has so often been said a "cooling off" time for nations ready to rush at each others' throats, during which there might exist an inquiry as to the nature and facts of any supposed grievances. These treaties date from 1913 and have been so generally adopted in their original or developed form as to constitute a real addition to the subject of international relations and arbitrations.

The World War for the time checked all idea of progress under the rule of law; but at its close the long pent-up forces of pacific civilization, restrained during hostilities, brought forth the League of

-vii-

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