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THE NETHERLAND MINISTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, MAY 7, 1907
GENERAL ORDERS No. 100 OR INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF
ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE FIELD, APRIL 24, 1863
N.B. The French text of the conferences has been compared word by word with the
THE PEACE CONFERENCES AT THE HAGUE, 1899, 1907!
THE Second International Peace Conference, like its predecessor of 1899, endeavored to humanize the hardships necessarily incident to war and to substitute for a resort to arms a pacific settlement of international grievances, which, if unsettled, might lead to war or make the maintenance of pacific relations difficult and problematical. The conference of 1907, no more than its immediate predecessor, satisfied the leaders of humanitarian thought. War was not abolished, nor was peace legislated into existence. Universal disarmament was as unacceptable in 1907 as in 1899, and some few nations were still unwilling to bind themselves to refer all international disputes not involving independence, vital interests, or national honor to a court of arbitration.
Deeply interested in the success of these projects, the great public felt that their failure necessarily involved the failure of the conference, notwithstanding that many wise and humanitarian measures falling short of the goal were incorporated into the law of nations. But we should not in our disappointment, and perhaps bitterness of soul, overlook positive and beneficent progress, and if we could not take the advanced position outlined by the friends of peace, we should nevertheless rejoice that many a milestone has been passed. We must not forget that an international conference is different from a parliament; that independent and sovereign nations are not bound by majorities, and that positive results are obtained by compromising upon desirable but perhaps less advanced projects. The aim of a conference is to lay down a law for all, not for the many, much less for the few; to establish a law which will be international because it is accepted and enforced by all nations.
The work of the conference concerned the modification of existing international law; international differences of opinion and interpretation were adjusted; doubt gave place to certainty; and, after Reprinted from The American Journal of International Law, II, 1.
much consideration and reflection, principles of international law were fortified, modified in part, or wholly discarded. A complete code was not established - it is doubtful whether custom and usage are ripe for codification - but important topics of international law were given the symmetry and precision of a code.
It may be maintained that international law is law in the strict sense of the word, or it may be contended that it lacks an essential element of law, because there is no international sheriff; that it is international morality or ethics; or that finally a law of nations is the occupation of the theorist and the hope of the dreamer. However opinions may differ as to the nature of international law, there can be no doubt of the existence of certain rules and regulations which do by common consent control the conduct of independent nations; nor can there be any reasonable doubt that enlightened people of all countries take a deep and abiding interest in international law, and share the hope of the dreamer, not only that greater precision may be given to its principles, but that the principles themselves may be developed and applied with the certainty and precision of a municipal code.
From the cell of the cloister international law passed into the study of the philosopher, the jurist, and the scholar; from the study it entered the cabinets of Europe, and for two centuries and more a recognized system of international law has determined the foreign relations of nations; from the cabinet to courts of justice, where the rights of nations as well as individuals have been debated and enforced; and finally, from the court room international law has made its way to the people, who, in last resort, dominate court and cabinet, and enlist in their service scholar as well as priest.
It was a wise remark of Sir James Mackintosh that constitutions are not made: they grow; for history demonstrates that unnatural unions dissolve; that unnatural alliances have little permanency; that constitutions struck off at the heat of a moment in times of excitement disappear with the causes to which they owe their origin. Constitutions are, in a large and broad sense of the word, codifications. They put into written and permanent form the usages and customs of the past, and they last because the spirit underlying these usages and customs is wrapped up with the existence and destiny of the people. The Constitution of the United States has lasted, because it was based upon the usages and customs of England, as modified