International Arbitration, from Athens to Locarno

By Jackson H. Ralston | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
LATIN AMERICA'S WORK FOR ARBITRATION

105. Conferences and congresses . -- We shall see from a cursory glance that Latin America, through its congresses and conferences either among the nations of Central and South America or in conjunction with other countries, has taken many steps toward international arbitration. While one is compelled to recognize that many of these efforts have failed in their beginnings, nevertheless the cumulative effect even of failures has been marked in advancing the cause of juridical settlement. At the same time the successes have been marked and have created most important precedents and examples.

From a period in the midst of the struggles between the Spanish colonies and Spain, Bolivar indicated his devotion to international union and peace. In 1815 he asked:

Why should remote climes, diverse situations, opposing interests, dissimilar characters, divide America? How beautiful it would be if the Isthmus of Panama could be for us what the Isthmus of Corinth was for the Greeks! Would to God that some day we have the fortune of installing there an august Congress of the representatives of the republics, kingdoms, and empires, to treat and discuss the high interests of peace and war with the nations of the other three parts of the world.1

Resulting undoubtedly from Bolivar's influence we find that a treaty between Colombia and Peru, dated July 6, 1822, looked to the settlement of all difficulties and disputes by a general assembly of the American states which should act as an arbitral judge and conciliator. This was followed by similar provisions in treaties between Colombia and Mexico and Colombia and Chile.

In 1822, Bolivar invited the presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Buenos Aires to send their plenipotentiaries to the Isthmus of Panama for the purpose of forming an assembly which could be useful "in great conflicts and be a point of contact in common dangers and faithful interpreter of our public treaties when difficulties should arise and as conciliator of our differences."2 Nothing, however, came of this at the time, and on December 7, 1824, his formal call to the governments of the American republics was issued. In doing this he reverted to his earlier language, indulging in prophecy:

When after a hundred centuries posterity may seek the origin of our public

____________________
1
Urrutia, La evolución del principio de arbitraje en America,18.

-141-

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