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A HIGHLY CRITICAL MOMENT: ROLE AND RECORD OF THE 1907 HAGUE PEACE CONFERENCE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 August 2007

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Abstract

The 1907 Hague Peace Conference was the only worldwide diplomatic summit ever before WW I and the League Era. Summoned in the wake of war between the waning Russian and rising Japanese empires, the concluding of the epochal Anglo-French Entente and amidst growing naval rivalry between Germany and Britain, the Conference met at a highly critical moment. It boldly and very pragmatically addressed the many vexing questions issuing from the distinctly shifting power balance on the global and European planes. The intriguing debate between powers great and small, western and non-western traditions, and two altogether different outlooks on the role of the law in global society – that of stern diplomats in the Austinian tradition and the champions of the Institut – unerringly augured the complexities of debate within later League and UN bodies.

The Conference's failure of immediate, palpable result proved ominous. Incapacity to solve the political riddles of international adjudication – the selection of judges, the composition of benches – along with impotence to curb naval rivalry, sealed the fate of peace. Still, it was the nations' obstinacy which barred change, not recalcitrance of subject-matter or lack of insight. In fact, at The Hague, in 1907, the legal and intellectual blueprint of a new world society was first advanced.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © T.M.C. Asser Press 2007

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