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Articles 359 and 360 may be regarded as supplementary to Article 358. They provide that, subject to the preceding clauses, all works in the bed of the Rhine, or on either bank along the Franco-German frontier, require the approval of the Central Commission. France may denounce or may be substituted for Alsace-Lorraine in agreements between Alsace-Lorraine and the Grand Duchy of Baden, and further, France shall have the right of having carried out such works as the Central Commission may regard as necessary for the navigability of the Rhine above Mannheim.
For some time past a project has been discussed of a canal between the Rhine and the Meuse. No agreement was ever reached in the matter between Belgium and Germany, chiefly because of a difference of view as to the point at which the canal should reach the Rhine. Provision is made in Article 361 that this canal may be built within twenty-five years at the option of Belgium, subject to the approval of the Central Commission on the Rhine, to which Commission is granted the power of determining the division of the cost of the initial construction. The canal, if built, is to be placed under the régime of the Central Commission.
It is the belief of the writer that this provision is a matter of protection to Belgium against traffic discrimination of various kinds, and that it is highly improbable that the result of the Article will be the digging of the canal.
German consent to the possible extension of the jurisdiction of the Central Rhine Commission to other parts of the Rhine system, both river and canal, is accorded in Article 362, subject to the further consent, when necessary, of Luxemburg and of Switzerland.
The foregoing discussion of the clauses regarding international rivers has necessarily been of a somewhat summary character. Careful and detailed study of these clauses will hereafter be required, in relation not only to the execution of the treaty itself, but also to the drafting of new conventions and to the international law of the future. The discussion here may well close by citing the admirable statement of the importance and purpose of these clauses, contained in the above-mentioned letter of Monsieur Clemenceau of June 16, Arising out of the territorial settlement are the proposals in regard to international control of rivers. It is clearly in accord with the agreed basis of the peace and the established public law of Europe that inland states should have secure access to the sea along navigable rivers flowing through their territory. The Allied and Associated Powers believe that the arrangements which they propose are vital to the free life of the new inland states that are being established and that they are no derogation from the rights of the other riparian states. If viewed according to the discredited doctrine that every state is engaged in a desperate struggle for ascendancy over its neighbors, no doubt such an arrangement may be an impediment to the artificial strangling of a rival. But if it be the ideal that nations are to coöperate in the ways of commerce and peace, it is natural and right. The provisions for the presence of representatives of nonriparian states on these river commissions is security that the general interest will be considered.
Section III (Articles 365 to 375) is entitled “Railways.” Certain articles—namely, Article 365 and Article 367 to Article 369—contain provisions which make applicable to German railways the principles of equality heretofore discussed in connection with transit and with navigation. Similarly these Articles are within the stipulations of Article 378 as to the period within which they shall remain in force without reciprocity and without revision by the Council of the League of Nations.
Article 366 revives the Berne Railway Convention of October 14, 1890, and subsequent agreements supplementary thereto, and in addition contemplates a new convention regarding railway transportation to be concluded within five years, to which convention Germany will be bound. The necessity of these clauses is apparent when it is remembered that the Berne Convention was by its terms to expire December 31, 1919.
Article 370, regarding rolling stock in general and railway brakes in particular, is not in terms made temporary, but it is nevertheless subject to Article 377 which permits the League of Nations to recommend the revision of all Articles relating to a permanent administrative régime.
The subject of rolling stock to be delivered in connection with railway systems in territory ceded by Germany is dealt with in Article 371. Commissions of experts on which Germany is be to represented are to fix the proportion in certain cases. These same commissions, by Article 372, are, in the event of dispute, to fix the conditions of working in cases when, owing to frontier changes, “a railway connection between two parts of the same country crosses another country, or a branch line from one country has its terminus in another.”
A special provision in favor of Czecho-Slovakia is found in Article 373.
Within a period of five years from the coming into force of the present treaty the Czecho-Slovak State may require the construction of a railway line in German territory between the stations of Schlauney and Nachod. The cost of construction shall be borne by the Czecho-Slovak State.
The two towns mentioned, Nachod in Czecho-Slovakia, and Schlauney (or Schlanei) in Germany, are about two and one-quarter miles distant from each other in a direct line. The chief purpose of the proposed rail connection is to facilitate the transport of coal from upper Silesia. The road to be built would probably be less than a mile in length, as the existing lines are at one point only about half a mile apart.
At the time of the construction of the St. Gothard Railway, Germany, by agreement with the Italian and Swiss Governments, made a contribution of twenty million francs toward its cost, pursuant to the Convention of October 13, 1909. The denunciation of this convention, after agreement between Switzerland and Italy on the subject, is contemplated by Article 374, and as such denunciation will probably involve the payment to Germany of a comparatively large sum, it is provided that any dispute as to the conditions shall be determined by an arbitrator designated by the United States.
The temporary provisions of Article 375 regarding transport, relate solely to the execution of the treaty and to the restoration of normal conditions.
It has been seen that Part XII of the treaty relates to subjects of a very technical nature, perhaps the most technical of any dealt with in the Treaty of Peace. In view of this, disputes regarding the meaning and effect of the clauses are almost certain to arise and provision for the determination of these disputes is essential. As has already been seen, the decision of arbitrators in particular instances is laid down, but, in addition to this, Article 376 in general terms requires all disputes as to the interpretation and application of the preceding articles of Part XII to be settled as the League of Nations shall provide.
Article 379 is in part foreshadowed by previous clauses (e.g., Articles 338, 366), but emphasizes the thought that a general régime in international matters is contemplated, not a régime enforced upon Germany as the result of victory, but a régime to which all states, allies, enemies and neutrals shall be parties on an equal footing. General conventions regarding transit, waterways, ports and railways are to be concluded within five years “by the Allied and Associated Powers with the approval of the League of Nations,” and to these conventions Germany will adhere.
The final articles of Part XII (380 to 386) relate to the Kiel Canal. This canal remains wholly within German territory and is left subject to German control. Built originally chiefly for military reasons, the regulations here considered for the Kiel Canal relate principally to commerce. The principle is again one of entire equality in regard to “all nations at peace with Germany." A Power at war with Germany will thus have no rights under the treaty, and if Germany is a neutral, vessels of war of the belligerents are on an equal footing by Article 380, subject of course to the rules of neutrality laid down by international law, some of which are codified in Convention XIII of The Hague of 1907.
There is no prohibition or regulation of the fortification of the canal.
The regulations regarding the use of the Kiel Canal are in principle based upon those generally provided for international rivers as to matters of equality, charges, transit and navigation.
A tribunal is to be instituted by the League of Nations to decide questions of the violation or interpretation of the articles relating to the canal, but a local authority is to be established at Kiel by Germany to deal with disputes in the first instance.
Popular interest is not ordinarily concerned with the general problems covered in the Treaty of Peace by the Ports, Waterways and Railways clauses. The solution of these problems is, nevertheless, very important in the economic life of peoples, and it may well be that the future will point to these clauses as having contributed very materially to the maintenance of the peace of Europe. It may be too much to say that a beginning has been made toward the coöperative organization of Europe's communication and transportation system on a continental basis. During the discussions of the Commission, however, it was not infrequent to hear a comparison drawn between the Europe of the future and the United States of to-day, in the arrangement of interstate commerce. Some steps at least have been taken looking toward the creation in Europe of a kind of coöperation between various European states similar to that which we have achieved in the United States as the result of the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution.