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The International Peace Conferences, The Hague 1899, 1907

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Kim, Yoon Ki
Term Paper, AP European History Class, Winter 2007

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. The World in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century
III. The Hague
IV. The Hague Conferences
V. The Conference of 1899
V.1 Background
V.2 Result
VI. The Conference of 1907
VI.1 Expansion
VI.2 Result and the Next Conference
VIII. Conclusion
VIII. Notes
IX. Bbliography

I. Introduction
            The late 19th and early 20th century was a period of confusion for whole world. Many nations in Asia and Africa were suffocating under Western Imperialism and colonial policy. There were wars and tensions all over the place, eventually providing a ground for World War I and World War II. Thus it was inevitable that conferences like Hague Convention were held. This paper covers the overall information about The International Peace Conferences at The Hague (in Dutch : Den Haag) of 1899 and 1907

II. The World in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century
            The late 19th and early 20th century was one of the fastest developing periods for whole world. Highly industrialized countries, especially in Europe, competed for overseas colonies and markets. English and French referred to their empire as a "civilizing mission" , "la mission civilisatrice." in French and colonized Asia and Africa. Africa had to grow up to enter the flow of history but anyhow on their account. These new imperialism led to the devastations of many countries in Asia and Africa, caused by the European's policies. (1)
            Technology and science developed day by day. Industrialization had great affect on whole world. One of the most conspicuous change was transportation, which shortened days to travel across Ocean or between countries. (2)
            Most important of all, tensions between nations grew as newly reformed states rose to power under strong leadership, thus threatening the old power. Unlimited expansion of armament was one of the greatest problems. The whole world was on the verge of exploding any time.

III. The Hague
            From the start of formation of the Dutch Republic, The Hague or Den Haag kept its position as one of the most important cities in the Low Countries: Economically, socially, and politically. (3) Thus it was not surprising that this city earned the honor to sponsor the international peace conference to eliminate the cause of tensions. With the conventions of 1899 and 1907, The Hague constructed peace palace in 1913, firming their image as city of peace (4) and permanent centre of international law. (5)

IV. The Hague Conferences
            The Hague Conventions were international treaties negotiated at the First and Second Peace Conferences at The Hague. (1899 and 1907) Along with the Geneva Convention, famous convention known for prisoners of war, Den Haag (The Hague Conference) is among the first formal statements of the laws of war and war crimes in the nascent body of secular international law. (6)
            The Conference was met to resolve unlimited expansion of armaments, tensions in Pacific, and many other problems brought up by the time. Although some of the topics settled by conference did rise up again as a problem later, the conference was an overall success as it set laws of war and called for the needs for international conferences and organizations.
            The First Peace Conference of 1899 gave birth to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an institute for international dispute resolution. From the conference of 1899, the meeting was decided to be held every 8 years. However, the 1915 conference failed to meet because of the outbreak of World War I. (7)

V. The Conference of 1899
            The first Hague Conference of 1899 brought up issues of international disputes, laws of war and other clauses that deals with conflicts and peace. It laid a ground for future international treaties and organizations.

V.1 Background
            The first conference of 1899 was convened at the invitation of Count Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov, the Russian minister of foreign affairs of Czar Nicholas II of Russia. (8) The representatives of several governments were convened for meetings to agree upon international standards regarding warfare. (9) Twenty-six countries in total, gathered from May 18 to July 29 at Huis ten Bosch (the royal residence) to discuss the problems proposed by Count Muravyov: (i) a limitation on the expansion of armed forces and a reduction in the deployment of new armaments; (ii) the application of the principles of the Geneva Convention of 1864 to naval warfare; and (iii) a revision of the unratified Brussels Declaration of 1874 regarding the laws and customs of land warfare. (10)

V.2 Result
            The conference went for almost three months, but it was finally signed on July 29, 1899 and entered into force on September 4, 1900. The Hague Conference of 1899 consisted of four main sections and three additional declarations. (11)

       I - Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
       II - Laws and Customs of War on Land
       III - Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of Principles of Geneva Convention of 1864
       IV - Prohibiting Launching of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons
       Declaration I - On the Launching of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons
       Declaration II - On the Use of Projectiles the Object of Which is the Diffusion of Asphyxiating or Deleterious Gases
       Declaration III - On the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body (12)

            Although the Conference of 1899 failed to achieve its primary objective: the limitation on armaments, it did adopt conventions defining the conditions of a state of belligerency and other customs relating to war on land and sea. Also, three declarations prohibiting the use of asphyxiating gases, expanding bullets, and discharges of projectiles or explosives from balloons, were adopted. Last, and most important, was the adoption of the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, creating the Permanent Court of Arbitration. (13)

VI. The Conference of 1907
            The Hague Conference of 1907 went deeper into the problems that were presented at the conference of 1899 and although it was not a total success, there is no doubt that it contributed greatly in world's cognition of importance of international treaties and organizations.

VI.1 Expansion
            The object of the second conference was to expand upon the original Hague Convention, modifying some parts and adding others, with an increased focus on naval warfare. (14) This conference sat from June 15 to Oct. 18, 1907, and was attended by the representatives of 44 states, more than that of the first conference. It consisted of thirteen sections, of which twelve were ratified and entered into force.

VI.2. Result and the Next Conference
            The second conference was mainly an expansion of the first and modified sections and declarations that were weak. A proposal for the limitation of armaments was raised again but failed to gain acceptance. 1899's Declaration I: prohibiting the discharge of projectiles from the balloons was renewed, but Declaration II and III, Prohibiting the use of asphyxiating gas and expanding bullets was not reaffirmed. (15) Independently, the convention of 1907, strongly focused on naval warfare and discussed problems such as, the employment of force for the recovery of contract debts; the rights and duties of neutral powers and persons in war on land and sea; the laying of automatic submarine contact mines; the status of enemy merchant ships; bombardment by naval forces in wartime; and the establishment of an international prize court. (16)

       I - The Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
       II - The Limitation of Employment of Force for Recovery of Contract Debts
       III - The Opening of Hostilities
       IV - The Laws and Customs of War on Land
       V - The Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land
       VI - The Status of Enemy Merchant Ships at the Outbreak of Hostilities
       VII - The Conversion of Merchant Ships into War-Ships
       VIII - The Laying of Automatic Submarine Contact Mines
       IX - Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War
       X - Adaptation to Maritime War of the Principles of the Geneva Convention
       XI - Certain Restrictions with Regard to the Exercise of the Right of Capture in Naval War
       XII - The Creation of an International Prize Court [Never Ratified]
       XIII - The Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War (17)

            The conference which went on for almost four months was finally signed on 18 October 1907 and entered into force from 26 January 1910. The final act of the conference were the unanimous acceptance by the delegates of the principle of compulsory arbitration and the stating of a number of voeux (resolutions), the first of which was suggestion that another conference be summoned in eight years, thus establishing the concept that the best way to handle international problems was through a series of successive conferences. (18) The conference scheduled for 1915 failed to meet as World War I broke out, the conference idea strongly influenced the creation of the more highly organized League of Nations and United Nations after the war. (19)

VII. Conclusion
            Although Hague Conference of 1899 and 1907, failed to prevent the break out of World War I, the conference itself has great significance. The conference shows international efforts to protect peace from tensions and aggressions of the time. The Hague Conference called for organizations and peace conventions like Geneva Protocol to support humanity even in the midst of the war.
            However, we should clearly remember and see the original purpose of the conference: to keep peace around world. The assembly of nations did not help much to put a stop to increase of armaments nor tensions, showing the limitations of international treaties and warns of nominal conferences.


(1)      Harlow 1999 p. 245
(2)      McClellan & Dorn 2006 p. 216
(3)      Blom & Lamberts 1998 p. 419
(4)      ibid.
(5)      Article : The Hague, Britannica, Micropaedia p. 615
(6)      Article: Hague Convention, from Wikipedia
(7)      Article : Hague Convention, Britannica, Micropaedia p. 616
(8)      ibid.
(9)      Huussen Jr. 1998 p.126
(10)      Article : Hague Convention, Britannica, Micropaedia p. 616.
(11)      Article: Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907), from Dictionary by LaborLawTalk
(12)      ibid.
(13)      Article : Hague Convention, Britannica, Micropaedia p. 616
(14)      Article: First and Second Peace Conference, from City of The Hague
(15)      Article : Hague Convention, Britannica, Micropaedia p. 616
(16)      ibid.
(17)      Article: Hague Convention, from The World War I Document Archive
(18)      Article : Hague Convention, Britannica, Micropaedia p. 616
(19)      ibid.


Note : websites quoted below were visited in October-December 2007.
1.      Ganse, Alexander. KMLA Handbook Modern European History. KMLA, 5th Edition. 2007
2.      J.C.H. Blom & E. Lamberts. History of the Low Countries. Berghahn. 1998
3.      Mark T.Hooker. The History of Holland. Greenwood. 1999
4.      Article : The Hague, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia. 15th Edition
5.      Article : Hague Convention, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia. 15th Edition
6.      Huussen Jr., Arend. Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. The Scarecrow Press, 1998
7.      Israel, Jonathan. The Dutch Republic. Clarendon. 1995
8.      Davids and Lucassen. A Miracle Mirrored. Cambridge UP. 1995
9.      Article: Hague Convention (1899 and 1907), from Wikipedia,
10.      Article: Hollow-point bullet, from Wikipedia,
11.      Harlow, Barbara. Imperialism and Orientalism. Blackwell Publisheres. 1999
12.      McClellan III, James & Dorn, Harold. Science and Technology in World History, (Translated into Korean by Jeon, Dae Ho.) . MotiveBooks. 2006
13.      Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907), from Dictionary by LaborLawTalk,
14.      First and Second Peace Conference, from City of The Hague,
15.      Hague Convention, from The World War I Document Archive
16.      British Isles : Early 20th Century time line, from,
17.      Article: Permanent Court of Arbitration, from Wikipedia,

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