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MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AND POSTPONEMENT OF THE
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE SOCIETY In the absence abroad of the Chairman and several members of the Committee on the Annual Meeting of the Society, the question of holding a meeting this year was considered by the Executive Committee of the Society at its meeting on March 10th, last. After careful consideration, the Executive Committee decided that, in view of the international situation then existing, it was not advisable to hold an annual meeting of the Society this year at the usual time. The President was, however, requested to call a meeting of the Executive Council instead for the transaction of such business and such other action as the Council might decide upon. President Root accordingly called a meeting of the Council in Washington on April 17, 1919. There were present: Mr. Elihu Root, Mr. Charles Noble Gregory, Dr. David Jayne Hill, Mr. Charles Cheney Hyde, Professor John H. Latanè, Mr. Jackson H. Ralston, Mr. Alpheus Henry Snow, Admiral Charles H. Stockton and Professor George G. Wilson. The reports of officers and committees were received, and the Council formally approved, upon motion, the action of the Executive Committee in postponing for the present the annual meeting of the Society. All officers and committees and the Board of Editors of the JOURNAL were continued until the next meeting of the Society.
After disposing of a few items of miscellaneous business of a routine nature, the Council discussed the international situation, with especial reference to the proposed Covenant of the League of Nations from the point of view of international law. There was a general feeling of regret that the covenant had not given due recognition to international law as the rule of decision in the proposed international arrangements for settling disputes between nations and had apparently overlooked the importance of making provision for its further development and conventional application. Upon the conclusion of an interesting discussion along these lines and consideration as to what action the Council might appropriately take to give proper expression to its view, the following resolution was unanimously adopted.
Resolved, That the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law urges upon the Conference of Paris the adoption of a provision by which there shall be called a general conference of the Powers to meet not less than two years or more than five years after the signing of this convention for the purpose of reviewing the condition of international law, and of agreeing upon and stating in authoritative form the principles and rules thereof; and that thereafter regular conferences for that purpose shall be called and held at stated times.
This resolution was promptly on the same day cabled to the American Peace Delegation at Paris through the Department of State.
Before it adjourned, the Council directed that the minutes of its meeting of last year, at which an interesting discussion of the international situation also took place, and the minutes of the present meeting be printed and distributed to the members of the Society. These minutes are now in course of preparation and will be published within a short time. They will be accompanied by the lists of officers, members and committees which usually appear in the annual proceedings. It is expected that the small volume containing these minutes and other material will be suitable for binding and may take the place of the usual volume of annual proceedings of the Society.
GEO. A. FINCH.
ERRORS IN THE ORDINARY VERSIONS OF THE TREATY OF BREST-LÍTOVSK *
In the version of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, as first telegraphed to this country, it was stated that Batum, Kars, and Erivan were to be given up by Russia to Turkey. Apparently the first telegrams twisted “Ardahan” into “Erdehan,” from which it was easy to guess “Erivan,” since the latter, having the advantage of being a government instead of a mere district or sub-division of a government, as Ardahan is, has a much more conspicuous place in the atlas. This is the version that ran through the newspapers in this country, was duly copied by many scholarly publications and even appeared in those sponsored by the National Board for Historical Service. In fact, it is constantly coming up again to impose itself upon the unwary student or teacher.
To the uninitiated, it might seem quite unimportant as to which of these divisions was given up by Russia. To most of us in this country, these divisions were but names, without real meaning, unless our study of events in the last two Russo-Turkish wars had given us a nodding acquaintance with Batum and Kars. Scarcely one out of a million in this country had noted Erivan, or cared enough about it to investigate its importance. Three little frontier provinces of some slight value economically and strategically perhaps, but still of not sufficient importance to cause any serious consideration—why should one worry as to which three, out of the many small divisions of the Caucasus region, were lost by Russia, and, as the treaty itself carefully states, ceded to their own people for their self-determination.
The corrected version of the treaty was perhaps a month in reach* Contributed by Professor Arthur I. Andrews, of Tufts College. 1 Shapiro, Modern and Contemporary European History, pp. 747, 748. McKinley, Collected Materials, p. 98. Current History, April, 1918, p. 54. American Association for International Conciliation, Documents, 1918, p. 422. American Political Science Review, November, 1918, p. 706.
2 Brest-Litovsk Treaty, Article IV, in the London Times (English translation of German text) March 6, 1918, pp. 5, 6; German text in the Reichsanzeiger, June 11, 1918.
ing this country. By it, the three divisions were given as Ardahan, Kars, and Batum, leaving out Erivan entirely. This version seemed somewhat more reasonable, although many would wonder why Ardahan, a district of Kars province, should be separated from it in the treaty. To be sure, Ardahan has a fortress position itself, making it rank with Kars in this respect although not the equal of it, but that hardly seemed to make it necessary to particularize to this extent. The significance of this phraseology became apparent only when a reference was made back to the Treaty of Berlin, which in 1878 was supposed to settle the differences arising out of the Russo-Turkish War that had just preceded. By this treaty, the three divisions specifically named were given by Turkey to Russia, and it was only later that Ardahan was incorporated in Kars by the Russian Government.
A further significance is attached to these three names when the Cyprus Convention of 1879 is consulted. By the treaty committing Cyprus to the control of Great Britain, the Porte reserves the sovereignty of Cyprus, and the reversion of Cyprus in case Ardahan, Kars, and Batum are returned by Russia to Turkey. The significance in the grouping of these three is revealed fully and the purpose of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 to demand Cyprus back again from Great Britain is clearly appreciated. As long as the Brest-Litovsk Treaty stood, the Turkish position would have been a very strong one whenever it found itself ready to make this demand. Russia having given up the provinces, the annexation of which had made Turkey ready to pay England's price and to give England a base which could be used in protecting the Ottoman Empire in Nearer Asia, the necessity for this concession would now lapse, and it would be easy to argue for the restoration of Cyprus to Ottoman control.
The connection of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty with the negotiations of forty years before is perhaps best brought out by the following extracts from a letter written by the Marquis of Salisbury to Mr. Layard on May 30, 1878.5 After speaking of the fact that “those articles of the Treaty of San Stefano which concerned European Turkey would be sufficiently modified to bring them into harmony
3 The Treaty of Berlin, Article LVIII, in Holland, European Concert, p. 304.
4 Cyprus Convention (1878), Article I; Annex to Cyprus Convention, Article VI, in Holland, European Concert, pp. 354, 356.
5 Orr, C. W. J. Cyprus under British Rule, Appendix I, pp. 184-185. Austin Henry Layard was British Ambassador to the Porte.
VI, in Holland, FuroCyprus under: 55 Ambassador to
with the interests of the other European Powers and of England in particular,” the letter goes on to say:
There is, however, no such prospect with respect to that portion of the treaty which concerns Turkey in Asia. It is sufficiently manifest that, in respect to Batum and the fortresses north of the Araxes, the Government of Russia is not prepared to recede from the stipulations to which the Porte has been led by the events of the war to consent. Her Majesty's Government have consequently been forced to consider the effect which these agreements, if they are neither annulled nor counteracted, will have upon the future of the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire and upon the interests of England, which are closely affected by the condition of those provinces.
It is impossible that Her Majesty's Government can look upon these changes with indifference. Asiatic Turkey contains populations of many different races and creeds, possessing no capacity for self-government and no aspirations for independence, but owing their tranquillity and whatever prospect of political well-being they possess entirely to the rule of the Sultan. But the Government of the Ottoman dynasty is that of an ancient but still alien conqueror, resting more upon actual power than upon the sympathies of common nationality. ...
Even if it be certain that Batoum and Ardahan and Kars will not become the base from which emissaries of intrigue will issue forth, to be in due time followed by invading armies, the mere retention of them by Russia will exercise a powerful influence in disintegrating the Asiatic dominion of the Porte. As a monument of feeble defense on the one side, and successful aggression on the other, they will be regarded by the Asiatic population as foreboding the course of political history in the immediate future, and will stimulate, by the combined action of hope and fear, devotion to the Power which is in the ascendant, and desertion of the Power which is thought to be falling into decay, ....
Her Majesty's Government intimated to the Porte, on the occasion of the Conference at Constantinople, that they were not prepared to sanction misgovernment and oppression, and it will be requisite, before they can enter into any agreement for the defense of the Asiatic territories of the Porte in certain eventualities, that they should be formally assured of the intention of the Porte to introduce the necessary reforms into the government of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in these regions. ...
The proximity of British officers, and, if necessary, British troops, will be the best security that all the objects of this agreement shall be attained. The Island of Cyprus appears to them to be in all respects the most available for this object. Her Majesty's Government do not wish to ask the Sultan to alienate territory from his sovereignty, or to diminish the receipts which now pass into his Treasury. They will, therefore, propose that, while the administraton and occupation of the island shall be assigned to Her Majesty, the territory shall still continue to be part of the Ottoman Empire, and that the excess of the revenue over the expenditure, whatever it at present may be, shall be paid over annually by the British Government to the Treasury of the Sultan.
Inasmuch as the whole of this proposal is due to the annexations which