Page:Frontiers.djvu/54

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52
Frontiers

A further development has taken place in the personality and qualifications of Commissioners. Commonly these are carefully selected representatives of the two Powers directly concerned. Occasionally in Asia, and almost invariably in Africa, the curious phenomenon is witnessed, sometimes under Treaty stipulations, as a rule independently of them, of the demarcation of boundaries by Commissioners drawn not from the country directly affected but from the great Powers between or within whose spheres of influence it may lie. Thus Great Britain and Russia determined on their own account the north-west Frontier of Afghanistan in 1886. Where native agents are admitted, usually in a subordinate and advisory capacity, they are apt to interpret their functions as justifying an exceptional measure of vacillation, obstruction, and every form of delay. Any one who has had experience of demarcation on the Frontiers of Persia and Afghanistan will recall the prodigies that are capable of being performed in these directions. Sometimes, after an International Agreement, such as the Treaty of Berlin, the Frontiers there laid down are demarcated by European Commissioners, officers of the highest technical knowledge and repute being nominated by the several Powers.

All of these marks of progress however, practical and valuable as they are, shrink into relative insignificance when compared with the startling change introduced by the reference of Frontier questions to arbitration by external individuals or States. This method is the exclusive creation of the last half-century or less, and its scope and potentialities are as yet in embryo. Sometimes the reference may be to a Sovereign or jurist