Hague Conventions

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Hague Conventions


(1) International conventions on the laws and customs of war accepted at the first and second world conferences at The Hague in 1899 (convened upon the initiative of Russia) and 1907.

The first Hague Conference of 1899 (27 states participating, among them Great Britain, the USA, Germany, France, Italy, the Scandinavian countries, and Japan) accepted three conventions—the peaceful resolution of international conflicts, the laws and customs of land warfare, and the application of the principles of the Geneva Convention of Aug. 10, 1864, to naval warfare. It also adopted three declarations—a five-year prohibition against throwing projectiles and explosives from balloons or ejecting them with the aid of similar new techniques, the nonuse of projectiles designed only for the diffusion of asphyxiating and harmful gases, and the nonuse of bullets that easily turn or flatten out in the human body. The convention on the peaceful resolution of international conflicts had particular significance, because by this convention states agreed to exert all efforts to safeguard the peaceful resolution of international disagreements. The convention also noted the major instruments to achieve this purpose: good offices and mediation, international investigative commissions, and an international treaty court.

Some 44 states took part in the work of the second Hague Convention of 1907 (all the participants of the 1899 Conference plus 17 states of South and Central America). The conference accepted 13 conventions: the peaceful resolution of international conflicts, the limitation of the use of feree in the collecting of debts in treaty obligations, the commencement of military operations, the laws and customs of land warfare, the rights and obligations of neutral states and persons in the event of ground war, the situation of enemy commercial vessels on the commencement of military operations, the conversion of commercial vessels into warships, the placing of underwater automatically exploding contact mines (this convention has lost its significance), naval bombardment in wartime, the application of the principles of the Geneva Convention to naval warfare (later replaced by the Geneva Convention of 1949), several limitations on the right of seizure in naval warfare, the establishment of an international prize court (this convention did not become effective), and the rights and obligations of neutral states in event of war. In addition, a declaration on the prohibition against throwing projectiles and explosives from balloons was accepted.

The Hague conventions played a significant role in the cause to regulate the rules of warfare in international law. Although the Hague conventions reflected the level of military techniques of that period (late 19th and early 20th centuries), their meaning has been preserved and defined because they are based on the progressive principle of the humanization of warfare.

The USSR recognized the Hague conventions that were earlier ratified by the prerevolutionary government to the degree that they do not contradict the Charter of the United Nations and in consideration of the changes introduced into them by later international agreements in which the USSR took part.

(2) Conventions on international private law of 1902-05, 1951, and 1956. The Hague Convention of 1902-05 (on marriage, divorce, and court separation of spouses, guardianship of minors, trusteeship of minors, personal and property relations between spouses, and international civil trial) were ratified only by several European countries and did not have great significance; their effectiveness ceased with the out-break of World War I. The Hague conventions of 1951 and 1956 were not widespread. The USSR was not a participant in this group of conventions.


Mezhdunarodnoe pravo: Uchebnik. Moscow, 1964. Chapter 15, pp. 634-62.
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