Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/86

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76
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE PEACE CONFERENCE.
By JAMES HARRIS VICKERY, LL. B.
"In truth these 'cut-and-dried' schemes are of no value at all, unless as monuments of the mingled simplicity and ingenuity of their authors."—Lawrence.

THE view has been very generally entertained that all efforts to promote the cause of peace and order in the world by cut-and-dried schemes are bound to fail, and it must be admitted that few truer words have been written than those which stand at the head of this article. But this truth, like some others, may be abused. Evidences are not wanting to show that the incredulity which preceded the convening of the Peace Conference, the skepticism which marked its first sessions, and a certain want of faith which has since been manifested in various quarters in the practical value of the measures adopted, are all mainly due to a misapplication of this truth.

The measures formulated at The Hague do not constitute a "cut-and-dried scheme," but, on the contrary, they form an additional step in a natural, healthy, and orderly evolution of the forces of peace which have so effectively asserted themselves in the improvement of international relations during the latter half of this century.[1]

The Geneva Red Cross Rules.—The first matter to which attention will be invited is the extension of the Red Cross rules to naval warfare.

The Geneva Convention of 1864, which marks the beginning of the organization known as the Red Cross Society, inaugurated a vast and beneficent improvement in the then existing usage of nations as regarded the care of the sick and wounded in war. Its two salient features are the neutralization of the officers and forces of the society and the disabled soldiers under their care, and the establishment of a system to govern the conduct of its humane work.

At the dawn of modern international law during the first quarter of the seventeenth century not only the sick and wounded of a vanquished foe, but every prisoner, and even women and children, suffered to the fullest the indignities and cruelties incident to the rough warfare of the age; but the growth of mercy has softened

  1. For an excellent statement of the work of the Conference from the German point of view, see Die völkerrechtlichen Ergebnisse der Haager Conferenz, by Professor Zorn, of Königsberg, one of the German delegates, published in the Deutsche Rundschau, January et seq.