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welfare of individuals, but it constitutes at the same time, an increasing difficulty to the maintenance of peace.
If it is true, as has so often been written, that no single nation can take the initiative in reducing its armament because in the present state of the world such a step might jeopardize its existence, it is equally true that this difficulty would disappear if the so-called great Powers would make up their minds to enter into an agreement for the reduction or limitation of armaments. But, if they are not yet willing to go so far, they could, at least, stop in their mad race for armaments by not increasing so rapidly these ruinously expensive preparations for war. It is a great mistake to imagine that such huge instruments of war are not a serious obstacle to the peace of nations.
In closing this article, I shall only add that, for my part, and as a friend of general peace, should the small measures of progress above suggested be accomplished by the next Hague Conference, I would feel entirely satisfied and be most happy for the advance made by the great Powers of the world.
THE WORK OF THE JOINT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION
ON PANAMA CLAIMS
The questions presented to the Joint International Commission appointed under the terms of Articles VI and XV of the treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of Panama, ratified February 26, 1904, were of so unusual a character that a brief statement of the principles formulated by the Commission will probably be of interest to students of international law.
The provisions of the treaty under which the work of the Commission was organized read as follows:
ARTICLE VI The grants herein contained shall in no manner invalidate the titles or rights of private land holders or owners of private property in the said zone or in or to any of the lands or waters granted to the United States by the provisions of any article of this treaty, nor shall they interfere with the rights of way over the public roads passing through the said zone or over any of the said lands or waters unless said rights of way or private rights shall conflict with rights herein granted to the United States in which case the rights of the United States shall be superior. All damages caused to the owners of private lands or private property of any kind by reason of the grants contained in this treaty or by reason of the operations of the United States, its agents or employees, or by reason of the construction, maintenance, .operation, sanitation and protection of the said Canal or of the works of sanitation and protection herein provided for, shall be appraised and settled by a joint Commission appointed by the Governments of the United States and the Republic of Panama, whose decisions as to such damages shall be final, and whose awards as to such damages shall be paid solely by the United States. No part of the work on said Canal or the Panama Railroad or on any auxiliary works relating thereto and authorized by the terms of this treaty shall be prevented, delayed or impeded by or pending such proceedings to ascertain such damages. The appraisal of said private lands and private property and the assessment of damages to them shall be based upon their value before the date of this convention.
ARTICLE XV The joint commission referred to in Article VI shall be established as follows:
The President of the United States shall nominate two persons and the President of the Republic of Panama shall nominate two persons and they shall proceed to a decision; but in case of disagreement of the Commission (by reason of their being equally divided in conclusion) an umpire shall be appointed by the two Governments who shall render the decision. In the event of the death, absence or incapacity of a Commissioner or Umpire, or of his omitting, declining or ceasing to act, his place shall be filled by the appointment of another person in the manner above indicated. All decisions by a majority of the Commission or by the umpire shall be final.
The first difficulty which confronted the Commission immediately after its organization was the clause in Article VI of the treaty, reading as follows: “The appraisal of said private lands and private property and the assessment of damages to them shall be based upon their value before the date of this convention.” · It is evident from the contents of the instrument, as well as from the
circumstances surrounding the negotiation of the treaty, that this clause was intended to prevent speculative manipulation of the lands necessary for the construction of the Canal and the auxiliary works. At the time of the ratification of the treaty neither the officials of the United States Government nor the representatives of Panama foresaw that the United States Government would subsequently avail itself of the broadest possible interpretation of the clauses of the treaty relating to the acquisition of the title to all land situated within the Canal Zone.
In the Act of August 24, 1912, providing for the permanent government of the Canal Zone, the President was authorized under section 3
to declare by Executive order that all land and land under water within the limits of the Canal Zone is necessary for the construction, maintenance, operation, sanitation, or protection of the Panama Canal, and to extinguish by agreement when advisable, all claims and titles of adverse claimants and occupants. Upon failure to secure by agreement title to any such parcel of land or land under water the adverse claim or occupancy shall be disposed of and title thereto secured in the United States and compensation therefor fixed and paid in the manner provided in the aforesaid treaty with the Republic of Panama, or such modification of such treaty as may hereafter be made.
Acting under the authority thus vested in him, President Taft on December 5, 1912, issued the following executive order:
By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Act of Congress entitled “An Act to provide for the opening, maintenance, protection and operation of the Panama Canal and the sanitation and government of the Canal Zone,” approved August 24, 1912, I hereby declare that all land and land under water within the limits of the Canal Zone are necessary for the construction, maintenance, operation, protection and sanitation of the Panama Canal, and the Chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission is hereby directed to take possession, on behalf of the United States, of all such land and land under water; and he may extinguish, by agreement when practicable, all claims and titles of adverse claimants to the occupancy of said land and land under water.
In January, 1913, the President of Panama appointed the Honorable Federico Boyd, a former President of the Republic, and the Honorable Samuel Lewis, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, to represent the Republic of Panama on the Commission. At the same time President Taft appointed Dr. Roland P. Falkner, of Washington, D. C., and Dr. L. S. Rowe, of the University of Pennsylvania, to represent the United States. The American Commissioners arrived on the Isthmus in February and on the first of March the first formal meeting of the Commission was held. The Commission found itself confronted by an altogether exceptional and extraordinary situation. It was the evident intent of the treaty of February 26, 1904, to extend the broadest possible protection to the property rights of the inhabitants of the Canal Zone. The desire on the part of the United States to refrain from any action which would undermine or otherwise injure the private property rights was further emphasized by the instructions issued by the President to the Secretary of War under date of May 9, 1904, in which emphasis was laid on the fact that “The inhabitants of the Isthmian Canal Zone are entitled to security in their persons, property and religion, and in all their private rights and relations. They should be so informed by public announcement. The people should be disturbed as little as possible in their customs and avocations that are in harmony with principles of well ordered and decent living." (The most important question confronting the Commission related to the status of settlers or occupiers of public lands in the Canal Zone, who
went upon such lands prior to the conclusion of the treaty of February 26, 1904. Under the Colombian law which prevailed in the Canal Zone prior to the independence of the Republic of Panama, and which continued in force while the Republic of Panama exercised jurisdiction over the Canal Zone, occupiers of, or squatters on, public lands, were entitled to compensation for the value of their improvements if for any reason they were ousted from such lands. Counsel for the United States strenuously contended that the transfer of the political jurisdiction over the Canal Zone to the United States destroyed any rights that might have been acquired by settlers or occupiers under the Colombian law. It was argued that under the general principles of American jurisprudence unauthorized occupiers of public lands are mere trespassers, and that a trespass cannot be made the foundation of a right. Great legal acumen was displayed by counsel both for the United States and the parties in interest, and after an exhaustive argument before the Commission and prolonged deliberation within the Commission the conclusion was finally reached by unanimous vote that settlers or occupiers of public lands in the Canal Zone, who went upon such lands prior to the conclusion of the treaty of February 26, 1904, were entitled to compensation for the value of the improvements which they had made on such lands. The opinion establishing this principle reads as follows:
With reference to the status of such occupiers, it is clear that under the provisions of the Laws of the United States of Colombia and subsequently of the Republic of Panama, cultivators on public lands acquire a right to compensation for improvements, which rights were not divested by anything contained in the treaty of November 18, 1903, or by the change of sovereignty affected by that treaty.
The rights of occupiers on public lands of the United States of Colombia to compensation for improvements made thereon, are governed by law No. 48 of 1882, which contains the following provisions (Art. V):
Cultivators settled on public lands with dwelling, and cultivating such lands, shall be considered as possessors in good faith of such lands, and shall not be deprived of the possession of such lands, except by due process of law. (Art. 2.)
In case a cultivator should be deprived of his property through due process of law,
1 Attention is called to the rule of the Commission, dated August 4, 1913, whereby in all matters affecting the rights of private parties, the treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of Panama is to be referred to as of the date of the exchange of ratifications, to-wit, February 26, 1904.