Слике страница
PDF
ePub

should be abolished, there would be no gain; for at once sharper emphasis would be laid upon other means of warfare, upon substitutes for blockade. The suppression of the introduction of contraband goods might very successfully replace blockade; even the mere prohibition of the right to import contraband goods might operate as a blockade. The same effect might be attained by the extension of the conception of contraband; likewise by the obliteration of the distinction between absolute and relative contraband. At any rate, the abolition of blockade could without the least difficulty be rendered ineffectual by the energetic application of the right to declare contraband. The problem would work out just as in the case of trying to abolish the capture of prizes. Capture, contraband, and blockade are like the three keyboards of an instrument, on any one of which one can at pleasure play the same melody. If necessary, contraband could be renounced if it were permitted to retain blockade; both blockade and capture could be given up if contraband remained. A renunciation of the capture of prizes is, therefore, according to Triepel, only possible if both blockade and contraband are abolished without leaving either a trace or a substitute. And that, he says, is impossible of realization. Substitutes for the one or the other would always be present. Moreover, Triepel does not lose sight of the possibility that England in a future naval war might be more vulnerable than it has so far been. In that case the Germans would be fools if they should rob themselves of the right of capture and of blockade. Consequently, Triepel comes to the conclusion that the abolition of the right of capture would bring Germany no advantage, but perhaps also no detriment.” Citation from Nippold, Die Gestaltung des Völkerrechts nach dem Weltkriege, 1917, pp. 279-281. I was unfortunately unable to procure a copy of Triepel's important pamphlet in time for the preparation of this article.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

It has been finely said of Switzerland that while the present war has demonstrated in a sinister manner Swiss dependence upon its powerful neighbors for fuel and food, and thus for its very existence, nevertheless neither these neighbors nor the world at large could for a moment spare the example of heroism and devotion so constantly and consistently set by the Swiss nation in its political and social life. This quality of devotion has been illustrated during the war not alone by the struggles unavoidable in the maintenance of neutrality, but also in the far-reaching activities of the International Red Cross at Geneva. Indeed, the work accomplished through the agencies of this wonderful organization in the internment and care of wounded soldiers and their repatriation where permissible under belligerent agreement, in the repatriation of civilians driven from occupied territory, the transmission of mail to prisoners, and the discovery of vast numbers of the missing, constitute one of the most striking chapters in the war's history.

No feature of the Red Cross work is more worthy of study than the Bureau of Information established at Geneva (Bureau de Renseignments sur les prisonniers de guerre), and which is the issue of an interesting development. The earlier conceptions of Red Cross activities had the sick and wounded alone in view. At the first it was thought that the interests of interned prisoners might be safely left to the various national Red Cross societies, but the vast exigencies born of the present conflict have amply confirmed the foresight of provisions made at the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907, and which sought a distinctly international scope if adequate work was to be done. A nearly contemporaneous line of thought is seen in the views expressed at St. Petersburg in 1902 and London in 1907. At St. Petersburg it was moved by Renault that the national societies consider the feasibility of extending their work to comprise prisoners as well as the wounded, with the result that the eighth Red Cross Congress, held at London in 1907, resolved, on motion of de Senonges, representing the French Red Cross, that prisoners of war be brought within the responsibilities of the organization and that the international committee at Geneva be recognized as the medium of intercommunication. Finally, the ninth Congress, held at Washington in 1912, recorded the voeu that a special commission act in concert with the International Red Cross at Geneva for the relief of prisoners of war:

Le Comité International par l'intermédiaire de délégués neutres accredités auprès des gouvernements intéressés assurera la distribution des secours qui seront destinés à des prisonniers désignés individuellement et répartira les autres dons entre les différents dépots de prisonniers, en tenant compte des intentions des donateurs, des besoins des captifs et des instructions des autorités militaires. Les frais occasionés ainsi au Comité International seront supportés par les Sociétés de la Croix Rouge intéressées. Les Commissions spéciales pour les prisonniers de guerre se mettront en rapport avec le Comité international à Genève.

Such are the beginnings of the present-day central agency at Geneva which responds completely to the spirit of the Hague Regulations as recorded in Article 14 of the Annex to the Convention of 1907 Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, the Annex being termed Réglement Concernant les Lois et Coutumes de la Guerre sur Terre. In the English translation, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Article 14 reads as follows (italics representing changes of 1907).

An inquiry office for prisoners of war is instituted on the commencement of hostilities in each of the belligerent States, and, when necessary, in neutral countries which have received belligerents in their territory. It is the function of this office to reply to all inquiries about the prisoners. It receives from the various services concerned. full information respecting internments and transfers, releases on parole, exchanges, escapes, admissions into hospital, deaths, as well as other information necessary to enable it to make out and keep up to

date an individual return for each prisoner of war. The office must state in this return the regimental number, name and surname, age, place of origin, rank, unit, wounds, date and place of capture, internment, wounding, and death, as well as any observations of a special character. The individual return shall be sent to the Government of the other belligerent after the conclusion of peace. It is likewise the function of the inquiry office to receive and collect all objects of personal use, valuables, letters, etc., found on the field of battle or left by prisoners who have been released on parole, or exchanged, or who have escaped, or died in hospitals or ambulances, and to forward them to those concerned.

On August 4, 1918, the Swiss Red Cross issued a general appeal signed by its president, Iselin, of Basel, a member of the National Council, and by leading citizens of other cantons, and the Federal Council also freely lent the resources of the central government to the practical administration of relief work; nor did the various national information bureaus fail in cooperation with the Swiss Red Cross through the International Committee at Geneva, of which Ador, President of the Confederation, is president, as he is also president of the Geneva Bureau of Information.

August 15, 1914, the International Committee at Geneva requested the various Red Cross societies to institute special commissions for the care of prisoners, and notified them, as it also notified the press and the Swiss Government, as well as the various foreign consulates at Geneva, that an international agency of relief and information for prisoners of war had been instituted. Basing itself on the Hague Convention above cited, and on the Universal Postal Convention of 1906, the committee requested free carriage (franchise de port) for its various materials. From every side favorable replies were received, and thenceforward and on a scale of increasing magnitude, letters, money orders and parcels were carried free. So rapidly did the work grow that the agency found itself obliged to remove its quarters from the home of the International Committee to the beautiful Palais Eynard, built and owned by the city of Geneva with an endowment bequeathed by the celebrated Swiss Secretary at the Congress of Vienna. At the present moment additional quarters have been secured to shelter portions of the agency’s extensive work. Its personnel rose to above 1,200 in number. The great majority, however, of these workers gave their services without pecuniary reward. The wide range of the agency's activities may be gathered from the fact that by December, 1914, the agency handled on an average some 15,000 letters and parcels daily. Many volumes might be devoted to an account of the labors accomplished by these organizations; but space will not allow us to dwell further upon them. We turn, then, to consider in brief outline some political activities of the Federal Council. In the Swiss polity, executive functions are confided, not to a single person, but to a council of seven (Conseil Fédéral, Bundesrat) chosen for a term of three years by the two Houses of Parliament in joint session (Assemblée Fédérale, Bundesversammlung). The Council's chairman, annually elected by the Assembly at its December meeting, is the President of the Confederation, though beyond the privileges of chairmanship and the prestige of the title, he has no special duties or prerogatives apart from membership in the Executive Council. The conduct of foreign affairs, by virtue of a Council resolution adopted June 26, 1918, is in charge of the President as Chief of the Council’s Political Department. For the present year (1919) the Council's committee on foreign affairs (Délégation du Conseil Fédéral pour les Affaires Etrangères) is formed of the President, Ador, the Vice-President of the Council, Motta (who was President in 1915), Schulthess (President in 1917), and Calonder (President in 1918), who was Chief of the Political Department last year. Parliament is formed of two councils, the National Council (Conseil National, Nationalrat) and the States’ Council (Conseil des Etats, Ständerat). The National Council has at the present time 189 members, chosen in 51 election districts (arrondissements). Seventeen cantons form each a single election district. The remaining eight cantons are divided to form the 34 other election districts. While up to the present time the deputies have been chosen on the majority principle familiar in the United States, nevertheless on October 13th last an amendment to the Federal Constitution was adopted by popular vote, in pursuance of which during the coming spring federal

« ПретходнаНастави »