Codification of International Law

March 3, 1930

Report Outline
First World Conference on Codification
The Development of International Law
The League and the Law of Nations
The World Court and the Law of Nations
The Kellogg Pact and the Law of War

First World Conference on Codification

American Acceptance of League Invitation

The first world conference for the codification of international law will meet at The Hague, March 13, 1930, under the auspices of the League of Nations. An invitation to be represented at the conference was accepted by the United States, February 28, 1930, and an American delegation, headed by David Hunter Miller, sailed from New York on March 1. The delegation includes one woman member, Mrs. Ruth B. Shipley, chief of the passport, division, department of state.

Preparations for the forthcoming conference were opened by the League of Nations in 1924. In a sense it will be a continuation of the series of international conferences begun at The Hague in 1899. At the second Hague peace conference, inspired by President Roosevelt and attended by the representatives of 26 nations in 1907, the basis was laid for a third conference, to be held at The Hague in 1914. This third conference was to have made a beginning upon the progressive codification of international law. Governments were requested in the meantime to give consideration to plans for the choice of judges to serve on a “permanent court of international justice,” which could be granted “affirmative” (compulsory) jurisdiction over legal disputes between nations.

The third Hague conference, projected for 1914, was indefinitely postponed by the outbreak of the World War. However, the establishment of the League of Nations at the close of the war provided the machinery by which judges could be chosen, under a plan acceptable to both great and small nations, and the Permanent Court of International Justice was set up at The Hague in 1922. With the establishment of this court the task of reducing the rules of international law to a written code took on a new importance. The wide acceptance by members of the League of the optional clause of the court's statute, following their adherence to the Kellogg pact, has enhanced their need of certainty as to the rules of law to be applied by the court in the classes of cases which are now within its compulsory jurisdiction.

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