The Hague Conventions were international treaties negotiated at the First and Second Peace Conferences at The Hague, Netherlands in 1899 and 1907, respectively, and were, along with the Geneva Conventions, among the first formal statements of the laws of war and war crimes in the nascent body of secular international law. A third conference was planned for 1914 (later rescheduled for 1915), but was never realized due to the start of World War I. The International Union of the Hague Peace Conferences, as the German international lawyer and neo-Kantian pacifist Walther Schücking called the assemblies, was the first step toward a world federation, and the predecessor to the League of Nations.

Hague Convention of 1899Edit

The First Peace Conference was proposed on August 29, 1898, by Tsar Nicholas II[1]. It was held from May 18, 1899 and signed on July 29 of that year, and entered into force on September 4, 1900. The Hague Convention of 1899 consisted of four main sections and three additional declarations (the final main section is for some reason identical to the first additional declaration):

  • I - Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
  • II - Laws and Customs of War on Land
  • III - Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of Principles of Geneva Convention of 1864
  • IV - Prohibiting Launching of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons
  • Declaration I - On the Launching of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons
  • Declaration II - On the Use of Projectiles the Object of Which is the Diffusion of Asphyxiating or Deleterious Gases
  • Declaration III - On the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body

The main effect of the Convention was to ban the use of certain types of modern technology in war: bombing from the air, chemical warfare, and hollow point bullets. The Convention also set up the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The conference was summoned at the urging of Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov, Foreign Minister of Russia. Its delegates included Fyodor Martens and Ivan Bloch. The American delegation was led by diplomat and educator Andrew Dickson White.

Hague Convention of 1907Edit

the second conference, in 1907, was generally a failure, with few major decisions. However, the meeting of major powers did prefigure later 20th-century attempts at international cooperation.

The second conference was called at the suggestion of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, but postponed because of the war between Russia and Japan. The Second Peace Conference was held from June 15 to October 18, 1907, to expand upon the original Hague Convention, modifying some parts and adding others, with an increased focus on naval warfare. The British tried to secure limitation of armaments, but were defeated by the other powers, led by Germany, which feared a British attempt to stop the growth of the German fleet. Germany also rejected proposals for compulsory arbitration. However, the conference did enlarge the machinery for voluntary arbitration, and established conventions regulating the collection of debts, rules of war, and the rights and obligations of neutrals.

The Final Agreement was signed on October 18, 1907, and entered into force on January 26, 1910. It consisted of thirteen sections, of which twelve were ratified and entered into force:

  • I — The Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
  • II — The Limitation of Employment of Force for Recovery of Contract Debts
  • III — The Opening of Hostilities
  • IV — The Laws and Customs of War on Land
  • V — The Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land
  • VI — The Status of Enemy Merchant Ships at the Outbreak of Hostilities
  • VII — The Conversion of Merchant Ships into War-Ships
  • VIII — The Laying of Automatic Submarine Contact Mines
  • IX — Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War
  • X — Adaptation to Maritime War of the Principles of the Geneva Convention
  • XI — Certain Restrictions with Regard to the Exercise of the Right of Capture in Naval War
  • XII — The Creation of an International Prize Court [Not Ratified][2]
  • XIII - The Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War

Two declarations were signed as well:

Geneva Protocol to Hague ConventionEdit

Though not negotiated in The Hague, the Geneva Protocol to the Hague Convention is considered an addition to the Convention. Signed on June 17, 1925 and entering into force on February 8, 1928, it permanently bans the use of all forms of chemical and biological warfare in its single section, entitled Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare. The protocol grew out of the increasing public outcry against chemical warfare following the use of mustard gas and similar agents in World War I, and fears that chemical and biological warfare could lead to horrific consequences in any future war. The protocol has since been augmented by the Biological Weapons Convention (1972) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993).

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Barcroft, Stephen. "The Hague Peace Conference of 1899," Irish Studies in International Affairs 1989, Vol. 3 Issue 1, pp 55-68,
  • Bettez, David J. "Unfulfilled Initiative: Disarmament Negotiations and the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 And 1907," RUSI Journal: Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, June 1988, Vol. 133 Issue 3, pp 57-62
  • Scott, James Brown, ed. The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, Vol. 1, The Conferences (The Johns Hopkins Press 1909)
  • Trueblood, Benjamin Franklin. The Two Hague Conferences And Their Results (1914)


  1. The Proud Tower, page 229
  2. The never-ratified Section XII would have established an international court for the resolution of conflicting claims to captured shipping during wartime.

External linksEdit

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