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formally bound themselves to respect, and which cannot be likened to stipulations imposed by force to satisfy the selfish interests of a conqueror.
I have no thought to mention all the rules concerning the conduct of armies; I desire merely to pick out those that seem to be of special interest in the present circumstances.
The very first prescription laid upon belligerents is that they shall carry on their operations only in their own territory and shall respect States that intend to remain neutral. It would seem to be useless to state this in express terms. Nevertheless the Hague Convention concerning the rights and duties of neutral Powers says in its first article: "The territory of neutral Powers is inviolable."
There are two kinds of neutral States: those that are neutral of their own free will, and those that are neutral by virtue of a convention stipulating that they shall remain perpetually in this condition. The aim of perpetual neutralization is to bar from strategic points those Powers between which war may arise. An inoffensive State is placed at these points in such a situation as to put the frontiers of its neighbors in a position of security. As the writers say (for example, Funck-Brentano and Sorel), the Powers have acted in a wise and politic manner in limiting their field of battle and increasing the difficulties of war.
This neutrality is ordinarily guaranteed; that is to say, the States taking part in its establishment promise not only to respect it, but also to see that it is respected.
Three States enjoy this status, by virtue of treaties which I shall cite.
The Powers assembled at the Congress of Vienna declared on March 20, 1815, "that the general interest demands that the Helvetic States should enjoy the benefit of perpetual neutrality." By a declaration drawn up at Paris, November 20, 1815, in the names of Austria, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia and Russia, "the Powers who signed the Declaration of Vienna of March 20 declare, by this present act, their formal and authentic acknowledgement of the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland, and they guarantee to that country the integrity and inviolability of its territory in its new boundaries."
When the question arose of separating Belgium from Holland after the revolution of 1830, it was thought wise to make a neutral State of the new kingdom. The Treaty of London of November 15, 1831, between Austria, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia, contains the following provisions:
Art. 7. Belgium, within the limits specified in Articles 1, 2, and 4, shall form an independent and perpetually neutral State. It shall be bound to observe such neutrality towards all other States.
Art. 26. The courts of Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia guarantee to His Majesty the King of the Belgians the execution of all the preceding articles.
This guarantee engagement was renewed in the Treaties of London of August 19, 1839, which definitively settled the status of Belgium, in concert with the King of the Netherlands.
Just the other day I was running through the procès-verbaux of the Hague commission containing the discussion of the Regulations, and in a speech of Mr. Beernaert, the eminent Belgian statesman, whom we have numbered among our foreign associate members, I found the following remarks bearing upon the status of small States in general from the viewpoint of the rules of occupation: "As to Belgium, it is, as you know, in a special situation. It is neutral, and its neutrality is guaranteed by the great Powers, notably by our powerful neighbors. We cannot, therefore, be invaded." (Session of June 6, 1899). Our eminent colleague still believed in the force of treaties.
According to the Treaty of London of May 11, 1867:
The Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, within the limits determined by the act annexed to the treaties of the 19th April, 1839, under the guarantee of the courts of Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia, shall henceforth form a perpetually neutral State.
It shall be bound to observe the same neutrality towards all other States.
The high contracting parties engage to respect the principle of neutrality stipulated by the present article.
That principle is and remains placed under the sanction of the collec
tive guarantee of the Powers signing parties to the present treaty, with the exception of Belgium, which is itself a neutral State. (Art. 2)
The signatory Powers are Austria-Hungary, France, Great Britain, Italy, Prussia and Russia.
I shall pass on to the principal prescriptions of the Hague Regulations,
in so far as the conduct of belligerents is concerned.
The fundamental rule is laid down in Article 22:
The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited.
This, we may say, is the essence of the law of war in the twentieth century. Limitations are placed upon the employment of force in so far as it would constitute an act of barbarity or of treachery. The prohibitions adopted are based upon one of these two conceptions.
There are some prohibitions resulting from special conventions, like the Declaration of St. Petersburg, mentioned above, and the Hague Declaration prohibiting
The use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with incisions.
This refers to the famous dum-dum bullets. I shall mention likewise a declaration concerning "the use of projectiles, the object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases."
It is forbidden generally:
To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering. (Art. 23, e)
This is a development of the initial idea of the Declaration of St. Petersburg. We must not return evil for evil.
Article 23 enumerates a series of prohibitions referring to acts that may be characterized as barbarous, even though it is at times difficult to distinguish the cruelty that is inherent in all acts of war from the barbarity that we would like to do away with. It is especially forbidden:
(a) To employ poison or poisoned weapons;
(c) To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion;
(d) To declare that no quarter will be given.
Article 4, paragraph 2, says that prisoners must be humanely treated. There are certain individuals among those who fall into the hands of the enemy, who should receive special attention; namely, the wounded, with whom international law first concerned itself. The general principle laid down by the Geneva Convention of 1906 is very clear in regard to them:
Officers, soldiers, and other persons officially attached to armies who are sick or wounded shall be respected and cared for, without distinction of nationality, by the belligerent in whose power they are. (Art. 1)
Article 28 of the same Convention provides that:
In the event of their military penal laws being insufficient, the signatory governments also engage to take, or to recommend to their legislatures, the necessary measures to repress, in time of war, individual acts of pillage and ill treatment of the sick and wounded of the armies.
The laws of France impose severe penalties on individuals who commit such abominable acts. (See revised Article 249 of the Code of Military Justice)
In the interest of the wounded, special protection is assured to establishments in which they are received and to the persons who care for them:
Mobile sanitary formations (i. e., those which are intended to accompany armies in the field) and the fixed establishments belonging to the sanitary service shall be protected and respected by belligerents. (Art. 6) The personnel exclusively charged with the removal, transportation, and treatment of the sick and wounded, as well as with the administration of sanitary formations and establishments, and the chaplains attached to armies, shall be respected and protected under all circumstances. If they fall into the hands of the enemy, they shall not be treated as prisoners of war. (Art. 9)
One of the most violent methods employed in war is bombardment, which, as a result of the progress made in artillery, has become the most terrible arm in the hands of a belligerent. Here again international law has seen fit to bring a certain amount of mitigation to bear.
First of all, what places may be bombarded?
The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited. (Art. 25 of the Regulations)
The same principle is formulated in a Convention relating to bombardment by naval forces.
An explanation is necessary in regard to the words "by whatever means." They were introduced in 1907 at the request of the French Delegation, to cover the case of bombardment by balloons. In 1899 the Conference had adopted a Declaration forbidding, for five years, the "launching of projectiles and explosives from balloons, or by other new methods of a similar nature." This Declaration had expired at the time of the 1907 Conference. It was proposed to renew it. France was opposed to this, but its delegates explained that it was not their understanding that belligerents should be permitted to do, by means of balloons, what they had no right to do by any other means. A fortified place may be attacked with cannon; it may be attacked by balloons. A place or buildings which are not defended may not be attacked; they may not be attacked by balloons any more than with cannon, as the proposed modification of Article 25 will indicate:
The officer in command of an attacking force must, before commenceing a bombardment, except in cases of assault, do all in his power to warn the authorities. (Art. 26)
The provision clearly applies to all bombardments by any means whatever.
In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes.
It is the duty of the besieged to indicate the presence of such buildings or places by distinctive and visible signs, which shall be notified to the enemy beforehand. (Art. 27)
The same provision occurs in the Convention respecting bombardment by naval forces, which Convention merely indicates, in addition, the visible signs to designate protected buildings.