The Significance of the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 for the Development of the Law on Armed Conflicts

  • Jan Ondřej


The Hague peace conference in 1899 was one of the landmarks in the development of modem international law. It set an example to subsequent conferences as wen as to procedure and negotiations within international organizations. But at the time it was held it did not as yet succeed in creating legal norms which would guarantee lasting peace.
The rules of the peaceful settlement of conflicts, adopted at the Hague peace conference in 1899, was a phase on the road to the solution of conflicts exclusively by peaceful means. But the conditions for the banning of war did not exist at that time. Moreover, the time for disarmament had not yet matured. The fact was that the standard of relations between states, and especially their mutual mistrust, did not provide for disarmament, which did not take place until the late l980s. It is only since then that the legacy of the 1899 Hague peace conference has been translated into reality. The treaties and declarations concerning war rights, adopted by the Hague peace conference in 1899, were a compilation of written statements but were also aimed of the promotion of law of international war. They were a rejection of efforts to humanize wars, and consequently were significant not only in the light of the rules of waging war but also in the light of humanitarian law.
The idea of humaneness and its concrete shape were later enshrined in the treaties adopted by the Hague peace conference in 1907 as well as in further treaties concluded under Hague and Geneva law in the period between the two world wars, and explicitly after the second world war. In this connection, the 1899 Hague peace conference was the foundation, opening the process of the codification of international law.
Certain rules in the Hague accords of 1899 still constitute valid international law on armed conflicts, mainly because they are a reflection of international practices. The so-called Martens clause contained in the Accord on the laws and practices of territorial wars with the Order of land wars of 1899 remain significant till this day. The Declaration on a ban on toxic gas-carrying missiles is also part of valid international law – as follows from the judgement of the International Court of Justice as regards the legality of the use of nuclear weapons of 1996. The Declaration on the ban of missiles adapted in such a way as to spread in the human body and cause fierce pain (the so called dum dum missiles) also remains in force.

Author Biography

Jan Ondřej



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