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RED CROSS. Circular and papers relating to the adoption by the United States of
the additional articles of the Geneva Convention as a modus vivendi during present hostilities with Spain, Washington, May 13, 1898.
CIRCULAR. Geneva Convention (Red Cross). Additional articles thereof as ap
plied to naval warfare, adopted by the United States as a modus vivendi during present hostilities between the United States and Spain.
It is the desire and purpose of the United States in its conduct of war to observe the most humane and enlightened principles in the treatment of the sick, wounded, and dying. It recognizes the very great service rendered to that end by the conference of Geneva, held in the year 1864, which framed certain humane and expedient regulations for the care of the wounded and sick in the field. These were embodied in the convention of August 22, 1864, which has been ratified or adhered to by most of the civilized powers.
In 1868 a second international conference was held at Geneva, when it was proposed that the regulations contained in the original articles concerning military warfare be extended and adapted so far as practicable to war at sea. Fifteen articles, known as the “additional articles of 1868,” were proposed, Articles VI to XV of which relate exclusively to marine warfare. In the subsequent discussion of them, an amendment to Article IX was proposed by France, and in correspondence between England and France, Article X was interpreted and elucidated. These additional articles," although acceded to by the United States March 1, 1882, subject to promulgation after general exchange of ratifications, have never been formally adopted or ratified by the powers. During the Franco-Prussian war, however, they were adopted as a modus vivendi between the belligerents.
Upon the breaking out of the present hostilities between the United States and Spain, the United States at once commissioned the ambulance ship Solace to accompany the Atlantic fleet as a noncombatant hospital ship, to be employed solely to render aid to the sick, wounded, and dying, and to observe in spirit the additional articles of the Geneva Conference.
On the 23d day of April, 1898, this Government was addressed by the Swiss Minister at this capital proposing the formal adoption by this Government and by the Government of Spain of the additional articles, as a modus vivendi, during the present hostilities with Spain. The United States Government was readily disposed thereto, and on the 9th day of May sent to the Swiss Minister notice of its adoption of the same as a modus vivendi. It has this day been informed by the Swiss Minister of a like adoption thereof by the Government of Spain.
For the more complete understanding of the position of the United States with respect to such modus vivendi, the correspondence between the United States and the Swiss Government and between the Departments of State and Navy of this Government are printed here. inafter, and marked Exhibit Å.
The additional articles, as amended in Article IX, and with memorandum as to the interpretation given to Article X, together with a translation of the full text of the French letter of interpretation of the 26th of February, 1869, are printed as Exhibit B.
WILLIAM R. Day. DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
May 13, 1898.
The Swiss Minister to the Secretary of State.
Washington, April 23, 1898. Mr. SECRETARY OF STATE: War having been now unhappily declared between the United States and Spain, my Government, in its capacity as the intermediary organ between the signatory states of the convention of Geneva, has decided to propose to the cabinets of Washington and Madrid to recognize and carry into execution, as a modus vivendi, during the whole duration of hostilities, the additional articles proposed by the international conference which met at Geneva on October 20, 1868, to the convention of Geneva of August 22, 1864, which additional articles) extend the effects of that convention to naval wars. Although it has as yet been impossible to convert the said draft of additional articles into a treaty, still, in 1870, Germany and France, at the suggestion of the Swiss Federal Council, consented to apply the additional articles, as a modus vivendi, during the whole duration of hostilities. The Federal Council proposes the additional articles as they have been amended at the request of France and construed by that power and Great Britain.
My Government, while instructing me to make this proposition to Your Excellency, recall the fact that, on March 1, 1882, the President of the United States declared that he acceded, not only to the Geneva Convention of August 22, 1864, but also to the additional articles of October 20, 1868.
The Spanish Government, likewise, in 1872, declared itself ready to adhere to these articles. The Federal Council, therefore, hopes that the two Governments will agree to adopt the measure, the object of which is to secure the application on the seas of the humane principles laid down in the Geneva Convention.
With the confident expectation of a favorable reply from the United States Government to this proposal, I avail myself, etc.,
J. B. PIODA.
The Secretary of State to the Swiss Minister.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, April 25, 1898. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 23d instant, whereby, in view of the condition of war existing between the United States and Spain, you communicate the purpose of your Government to propose to the cabinets of Washington and Madrid that they recognize and carry into execution, as a modus vivendi, during the whole duration of hostilities, the additional articles proposed by the International Conference of Geneva, under date of October 20, 1868, for the purpose of extending to naval wars the effects of the convention of Geneva of August 22, 1864, for the succor of the wounded in armies in the field.
As you note in the communication to which I have the honor to reply, the United States, through the act of the President, did on the 1st day of March, 1882, accede to the said additional articles of October 20, 1868, at the same time that it acceded to the original convention of Geneva of August 22, 1864; but, as is recited in the President's proclamation of July 26, 1882, a copy of which I enclose herewith, the exchange of the ratifications of the aforesaid additional articles of October 20, 1868, had not then (nor has since) taken place between the contracting parties, so that the promulgation of the accession of the United States to the said additional articles was (and still remains) reserved until the exchange of the ratifications thereof between the several contracting states shall have been effected and the said additional articles shall have acquired full force and effect as an international treaty.
I find, upon examination of the published correspondence which took place in 1870 at the time of the war between France and North Germany (British and Foreign State Papers, vol, 60, pp. 945–946), that upon the initiative of the Prussian Minister at Berne, followed by the proposal made by the Government of the Swiss Confederation to the French and North German Governments, the then belligerents severally notified to the Government of Switzerland their willingness to accept provisionally and at once to establish as a modus vivendi applicable to the war then in progress, both by sea and land, all the additional articles to the convention of Geneva of October 20, 1868, together with the subsequent interpretations of the ninth and tenth articles thereof agreed upon and proposed by England and France. I understand from your note that, although those articles have not as yet become a matter of international convention, it is desired that the United States and Spain accede to the same, together with the same amendments and construction as above stated. I entertain no doubt that the United States will readily lend its support and approval to the general purpose of those articles and be in favor of adopting them as a modus vivendi; it has ever been in favor of proper regulations for the mitigation of the hardships of war. But before it can accede to them as a matter of fact, in the present instance, it must first fully understand the nature and text of the amendments and construction placed upon the articles by France and England as stated by you.
I would respectfully suggest, therefore, that there be furnished to this Government either the text or a clear exposition of the articles, with the amendments and constructions referred to, in order that the understanding may be complete. A certain pamphlet, written by Lieut. Col. Poland in 1886, is said to contain these amendments and constructions, but there is not now accessible to the Department of State a copy of such pamphlet or other reliable means of information on the subject. I shall await with pleasure fuller and exact information from you of the terms to which we are asked to accede. Accept, etc.,
The Swiss Minister to the Secretary of State.
LEGATION OF SWITZERLAND IN THE UNITED STATES,
Washington, D. C., May 4, 1898. Mr. SECRETARY OF STATE: I have had the honor to receive the note which your honorable predecessor did me the favor of addressing to me under the date of the 25th of April, in reply to mine of the 23d of the same month, upon the subject of the proposition of my Government to the cabinets of Washington and Madrid to adopt as a modus vivendi, pending the entire duration of the war, the articles of the 20th of October, 1868, additional to those of the convention of Geneva of the 22d of August, 1864.
The documents which, in the aforesaid note of your predecessor, were desired and which, as I have had the opportunity of telling you verbally, my Government had sent at the same time that it instructed me by cable to make the overtures on the subject, have just arrived, and I enclose them herein in duplicate copies. They confirm the text of the additional articles, the modification of Article IX proposed by France and the notes exchanged between England and France concerning the import of Article X. The Spanish Government having, by note of its Legation of the 7th of September, 1872, also declared that it was ready to adhere to the articles in question, the Federal Council hopes that the Governments of America and Spain, appreciating the sentiments which have guided it in its course, will be of accord in adopting as a modus vivendi a measure which has for its purpose the securing of the application upon the sea of the humanitarian principles consecrated by the Geneva Convention.
Awaiting your communication to me of the decision which the Government of the United States shall see fit to take in regard to this proposition, I offer you, Mr. Secretary of State, the expression of my very highest consideration.
J. B. PIODA.
[No. 4.] The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Navy.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, May 4, 1898. The Honorable
The SECRETARY OF THE Navy. SIR: I have the honor to enclose herewith copy of the below-mentioned correspondence and papers touching the proposition of the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the intermediary organ between the signatory states to the convention of Geneva, that the cabinets of Washington and Madrid recognize and carry into execution, as a modus vivendi, during the duration of hostilities, the additional articles proposed by the International Conference of Geneva, under date of October 20, 1868, for the purpose of extending to naval warfare the effects of the Convention of Geneva of August 22, 1864, for the succor of the wounded in armies in the field.
While these additional articles have never been promulgated by the United States, the fitting out and equipping of the Solace, referred to in your Department's General Order No. 487, as an ambulance ship for naval service under the terms of the Geneva Convention, is in the direction of their observance, and I submit the proposition of the Swiss Government that they may be recognized and carried into execution as a modus vivendi as deserving of your early attention. Respectfully yours,
J. B. MOORE,
The Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of State.
Washington, May 7, 1898. The Honorable
The SECRETARY OF STATE. SIR: I have the honor to return herewith enclosures transmitted with your letter of May 4, 1898, referring to the additional articles proposed by the International Conference of Geneva.
Referring to the endorsement of the Surgeon-General of the Navy, a copy of which is herewith enclosed, I would recommend that steps be forthwith taken with the Government of the Swiss Confederation to make the proposed modus vivendi effective during the continuance of the present war between the United States and Spain. For its part, the Government of the United States will observe the conditions of the modus vivendi in the Department of the Navy. I have, etc.,
JOHN D. LONG,