His Majesty the German Emperor, King of Prussia; the President of the United States of America; the President of the Argentine Republic; His Majesty the Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, &c., and Apostolic King of Hungary; His Majesty the King of the Belgians; the President of the Republic of Bolivia; the President of the Republic of the United States of Brazil; His Royal Highness the Prince of Bulgaria; the President of the Republic of Chile; His Majesty the Emperor of China; the President of the Republic of Colombia; the Provisional Governor of the Republic of Cuba; His Majesty the King of Denmark; the President of the Dominican Republic; the President of the Republic of Ecuador; His Majesty the King of Spain; the President of the French Republic; His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India; His Majesty the King of the Hellenes; the President of the Republic of Guatemala; the President of the Republic of Haiti; His Majesty the King of Italy; His Majesty the Emperor of Japan; His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Luxemburg, Duke of Nassau; the President of the United States of Mexico; His Royal Highness the Prince of Montenegro; the President of the Republic of Nicaragua; His Majesty the King of Norway; the President of the Republic of Panamá; the President of the Republic of Paraguay; Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands; the President of the Republic of Peru; His Imperial Majesty the Shah of Persia; His Majesty the King of Portugal and of the Algarves, &c.; His Majesty the King of Roumania; His Majesty the Emperor of All the Russias; the President of the Republic of Salvador; His Majesty the King of Servia; His Majesty the King of Siam; His Majesty the King of Sweden; the Swiss Federal Council; His Majesty the Emperor of the Ottomans; the President of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay; the President of the United States of Venezuela:
Recognizing the necessity of more effectively ensuring than hitherto the equitable application of law to the international relations of maritime Powers in time of war;
Considering that, for this purpose, it is expedient, in giving up or, if necessary, in harmonizing for the common interest certain conflicting practices of long standing, to commence codifying in regulations of general application the guarantees due to peaceful commerce and legitimate business, as well as the conduct of hostilities by sea; that it is expedient to lay down in written mutual engagements the principles which have hitherto remained in the uncertain domain of controversy or have been left to the discretion of Governments;
That, from henceforth, a certain number of rules may be made, without affecting the common law now in force with regard to the matters which that law has left unsettled;[Page 1237]
Have appointed the following as their Plenipotentiaries:
[For names of Plenipotentiaries, see Final Act, supra.]
Who, after having deposited their full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed upon the following provisions:—
Chapter I.—Postal Correspondence.
The postal correspondence of neutrals or belligerents, whatever its official or private character may be, found on the high seas on board a neutral or enemy ship, is inviolable. If the ship is detained, the correspondence is forwarded by the captor with the least possible delay.
The provisions of the preceding paragraph do not apply, in case of violation of blockade, to correspondence destined for or proceding from a blockaded port.
The inviolability of postal correspondence does not exempt a neutral mail-ship from the laws and customs of maritime war as to neutral merchant-ships in general. The ship, however, may not be searched except when absolutely necessary, and then only with as much consideration and expedition as possible.
Chapter II.—The Exemption from Capture of certain Vessels.
Vessels used exclusively for fishing along the coast or small boats employed in local trade are exempt from capture, as well as their appliances, rigging, tackle, and cargo.
They cease to be exempt as soon as they take any part whatever in hostilities.
The Contracting Powers agree not to take advantage of the harmless character of the said vessels in order to use them for military purposes while preserving their peaceful appearance.
Vessels charged with religious, scientific, or philanthropic missions are likewise exempt from capture.
Chapter III.—Regulations regarding the Crews of Enemy Merchant-ships Captured by a Belligerent.
When an enemy merchant-ship is captured by a belligerent, such of its crew as are nationals of a neutral State are not made prisoners of war.
The same rule applies in the case of the captain and officers, likewise nationals of a neutral State, if they promise formally in writing not to serve on an enemy ship while the war lasts.[Page 1238]
The captain, officers, and members of the crew, when nationals of the enemy State, are not made prisoners of war, on condition that they make a formal promise in writing, not to undertake, while hostilities last, any service connected with the operations of the war.
The names of the persons retaining their liberty under the conditions laid down in Article V, paragraph 2, and in Article VI, are notified by the belligerent captor to the other belligerent. The latter is forbidden knowingly to employ the said persons.
The provisions of the three preceding Articles do not apply to ships taking part in the hostilities.
Chapter IV.—Final Provisions.
The provisions of the present Convention do not apply except between Contracting Powers, and then only if all the belligerents are parties to the Convention.
The present Convention shall be ratified as soon as possible.
The ratifications shall be deposited at The Hague.
The first deposit of ratifications shall be recorded in a procès-verbal signed by the Representatives of the Powers taking part therein and by the Netherland Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Subsequent deposits of ratifications shall be made by means of a written notification, addressed to the Netherland Government and accompanied by the instrument of ratification.
A duly certified copy of the procès-verbal relative to the first deposit of ratifications, of the notifications mentioned in the preceding paragraph, as well as of the instruments of ratification, shall be at once sent by the Netherland Government, through the diplomatic channel, to the Powers invited to the Second Peace Conference, as well as to the other Powers which have adhered to the Convention. In the cases contemplated in the preceding paragraph, the said Government shall inform them at the same time of the date on which it received the notification.
Non-Signatory Powers may adhere to the present Convention.
The Power which desires to adhere notifies its intention in writing to the Netherland Government, forwarding to it the act of adhesion, which shall be deposited in the archives of the said Government.[Page 1239]
This Government shall at once transmit to all the other Powers a duly certified copy of the notification as well as of the act of adhesion, mentioning the date on which it received the notification.
The present Convention shall come into force in the case of the Powers which were a party to the first deposit of ratifications, sixty days after the procès-verbal of that deposit, and, in the case of the Powers which ratify subsequently or which adhere, sixty days after the notification of their ratification has been received by the Netherland Government.
In the event of one of the Contracting Powers wishing to denounce the present Convention, the denunciation shall be notified in writing to the Netherland Government, which shall at once communicate a duly certified copy of the notification to all the other Powers informing them of the date on which it was received.
The denunciation shall only have effect in regard to the notifying Power, and one year after the notification has reached the Netherland Government,
A register kept by the Netherland Ministry for Foreign Affairs shall give the date of the deposit of ratifications made in virtue of Article X, paragraphs 3 and 4, as well as the date on which the notifications of adhesion (Article XI, paragraph 2) or of denunciation (Article XIII, paragraph 1) have been received.
Each Contracting Power is entitled to have access to this register and to be supplied with duly certified extracts from it.
In faith whereof the Plenipotentiaries have appended their signatures to the present Convention.