Arbitration in the Western Hemisphere

Courtesy Reuters

THE year 1928 deserves to be remembered in the history of international law by reason of the efforts made during that period by all the civilized nations of the world in favor of arbitration. In February and March the Sixth International Conference of American States met in the capital of Cuba, and, amongst many other important agreements, one was reached, after lengthy and most interesting discussion, concerning international arbitration. By virtue of that agreement, plenipotentiaries of the independent governments of this part of the world will be assembling at Washington about the time this appears in print, with specific instructions to draw up a treaty establishing and regulating arbitration. Meanwhile at Geneva a special committee appointed by the League of Nations has also been studying this subject, and in three successive meetings it has prepared various plans which will shortly be submitted for the consideration of the League. America and Europe are vying with each other for the successful solution of a problem which may perhaps be uniformly solved by a World Treaty.

Arbitration is a very ancient institution in the history of the world and it has suffered many vicissitudes. The Greeks practiced it among themselves; Rome suppressed it as the inevitable sequel to her universal dominion; the Middle Ages witnessed its revival, although it was perhaps in most cases a proof of the superior power of the Popes; the modern state on the continent of Europe again eliminated it during the first centuries in recognition of the right of the stronger and of the ideal of universal monarchy. Philosophers and idealists, however, cherished the memory of it and dreamed of re-establishing it; jurists headed by Grotius urged it with confident hope; popular sentiment grew increasingly in its favor, and at the end of the nineteenth century, as now in the twentieth, caused it to make considerable strides forward, sometimes timidly, sometimes boldly, bringing it finally into the forefront of those problems which are most properly the concern of world opinion.

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