The New Student's Reference Work/Hague Peace Conference

Hague (hāg) Peace Conference, a body of delegates or representatives of the various civilized nations who met at The Hague, Holland, to consider the subject of the promotion of international peace. The conference was called at the suggestion of the emperor of Russia, and met in May, 1899. Twenty-six of the states of the world were represented. Baron de Staël of Russia was made president. The idea and purpose of the conference were new. The sessions were secret, and no authentic account of the proceedings has ever been given. Much was expected of it by the philanthropists of the world, but the results were disappointing, since the conference seemed, by the light of later events, but the signal for the beginning of a series of wars. Russia's proposals for compulsory arbitration and the reduction of existing armaments were not adopted. England and the United States were mainly together in the scheme of arbitration finally adopted, which was voluntary in its plan. On the whole the Hague Peace Conference was not immediately productive of results beyond its significance as an evidence of the willingness of the nations to discuss together the subject of an universal peace. The delegates from the United States were Andrew D. White, ambassador to Germany; Stanford Newel, minister to the Netherlands; Capt. William Crozier, U. S. army; Capt. A. T. Mahan (retired), U. S. navy; President Seth Low, Columbia University; F. W. Holls, of New York, secretary of the delegation. A permanent court of arbitration was agreed upon, the members of the same to be appointed by the various governments interested.

A second peace conference was held at The Hague, June 15 to Oct. 19, 1907, at which forty-six powers, including Latin America and Norway, were represented by delegates. As in the case of the first conference, not all that was hoped for was accomplished. The establishment of obligatory arbitration and a standing court of arbitral justice, which were urged by thirty-nine nations, including England, France and the United States, failed through the opposition of Germany, backed by Austria, Italy and a few others. The most important results accomplished were the establishment of a prize-court; the extension of the provisions of the Geneva convention to war at sea; the prohibition of the collection of public debts by force until after arbitration shall have been refused or an arbitral reward set at naught; regulations concerning bombardments and submarine mines; and a declaration in favor of arbitration.