Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/89

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INTERNATIONAL LAW AND PEACE CONFERENCE. 79

the soldiery.* In pursuance of this commission, a code of rules was prepared and adopted which has since been known as Lieber's Manual; it was published in 1863, and proved a blessing to soldier and civilian alike. So obvious, indeed, were its good results that other nations rapidly followed the lead of the United States, and similar manuals were issued by Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and other powers.

But while Lieber's Manual was thus taken as the model by various nations, there were inevitably developed serious divergen- cies in the rules and details. Recognizing the desirability of a com- mon code, which should be binding upon all nations, Alexander II of Russia attempted to secure the united action of the leading states, and, pursuant to his initiative, the Conference of Brussels was called in 1874. In the sessions of this conference the rules already developed were carefully examined, and ultimately a series of articles, well calculated to form the basis for an excellent inter- national code, was adopted. As the delegates, however, had not been given plenary powers by their respective governments, their action was necessarily ineffective without subsequent ratification. Upon this rock the conference was wrecked, and the rules which it had formulated acquired no binding authority.

But indirectly they had a most happy effect, for they worked as a unifying influence in the preparation of subsequent manuals and the amendment of existing ones. The increasing interest in the subject thus stimulated led the Institute of International Law to give the matter still further thought, with the result that that eminent body of jurists in 1880 adopted a very full and excellent code, which gave evidence of much advance in the knowledge of the subject.

But neither the Brussels rules nor the code of the Institute of International Law possessed any binding authority, save in so far as they embodied generally accepted usage; their influence, how- ever, increased the tendency in the direction of a common manual such as that which Alexander II had hoped to secure — a hope which has now been realized, and in a manner worthy of the subject. This logical step, too long delayed, is due to the Peace Conference. It devoted most careful consideration to the various codes, and has enriched, extended, and unified the rules and improved the whole by many valuable provisions suggested by the intervening experience. Altogether, the result is a splendid example of a natu- ral evolution which, commencing with the distinction between • " combatant " and " non-combatant " founded on the considerations of mercy and justice pleaded by Grotius, subsequently recognized

  • See Pierantoni, Die Fortschritte des Viilkerrechts irn neunzehnten Jahrhundert.

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