The Russian Ambassador to the
Secretary of State
Mr. Secretary of State: I have just received from
my Government order by telegraph to bring the following to the knowledge of
the United States Government.
The Imperial [Russian] Government, in agreement with the Dutch Government,
proposes to call The Hague Conference during the first half of the month of
July of the present year.
Russia at the same time invites the nations which did not sign the convention
relative to the laws of war on land, nor that relative to the adaptation of
the Geneva Convention to war at sea, to inform the Royal Government of the
Netherlands of their adhesion to these conventions. With regard to further
adhesions to the convention concerning international arbitration, the
Imperial Government is conferring on this subject with the Governments which
signed the acts of 1899.
I deem it proper at the same time to inclose herewith a summary of the
programme which the Imperial Government proposes to submit to the Conference
of The Hague, and I should thank your excellency to inform me of the
response of your Government to this proposition, in order that I may
transmit it to St. Petersburg by telegraph.
Please accept, etc.,
- Amelioration of the provisions of the convention regarding the
peaceful settlement of international controversies as far as the
court of arbitration and the investigation committees are
- Additions to the convention of the laws and usages of land
warfare—among others, opening of hostilities, rights of neutrals on
land, etc.; declarations of 1899—renewal of one of them.
- Preparation of a convention regarding the laws and usages of naval
warfare, concerning the special operations of naval warfare, such as
the bombardment of ports, cities, and villages by a naval force;
placing of torpedoes, etc.; transformation of merchant vessels into
war vessels; private property of belligerents at sea; period granted
merchant vessels in order to leave neutral or hostile ports after
the beginning of hostilities; rights and duties of neutrals at [Page 1627] seat, among others the
question of contraband; rules to which belligerent vessels shall be
subjected in neutral ports; destruction by vis major of merchant
vessels captured as prizes. Into this convention would be inserted
provisions relative to land warfare which would be applicable also
to naval warfare.
- Supplements to the convention for the adaptation to naval warfare
of the principles of the Geneva convention of 1864.
All political questions will be excluded.