Mr. President and Gentlemen,--The last time I had the pleasure of visiting Toronto was three years ago during the Genoa Conference, when many people thought that that Conference was going to bring Europe on to the highroad of reconstruction and prosperity; but I had the temerity to say that I thought that Conference was a blind alley and that nothing would come of it. Today I come to give you exactly the opposite message, namely, that certain proposals and ideas, that in some quarters are rather decried, afford in my judgment the best hope for the permanent reconstruction of Europe after the war, and for establishing the results of that peace for which you in Canada and we in Great Britain made such great sacrifices.
We need to look at this whole problem of the Geneva Protocol and the guaranteeing of security of the members of the League in the light of history, not in the light of passing events only.
Professor Zimmern was born at Surbiton, England, educated at Winchester and Oxford, becoming a Fellow of New College in 1904. He followed an educational career for some years, but broke off for one year, 1918-19, to become attached to the Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office. He is an author and translator of notable books, his last and one of his most important being "Europe in Convalescence," which was published in 1922.
What did the war achieve in Europe? The war destroyed four great autocracies--Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Turkey; it destroyed the old European system as it existed from the end of the middle ages down to 1918; it destroyed that system under which democracy was a minority principle in Europe, a system which prevented us from ever cooperating fully with the nations of Europe, a system which condemned us to makeshift policies, which condemned us to that principle of the balance of power, occasionally to venture on the continent of Europe in order to prevent autocracy from becoming dominant -that policy of the balance of power which was the British policy from the time of the Spanish Armada down to 1918. The was destroyed that system; it put out of business several members of what was called the old "Concert of Europe." It left the continent of Europe without any system, and what we have been trying to do during the last five or six years is to build up a new system, or rather to create the foundations for a new system. All the discussions which you have been reading in the newspapers began on the morrow of the armistice, and will be continued at the Council of the League of Nations next week.
The problem on which Canada is now asked to make a decision is this-shall that new system merely be a copy of the old one, an alignment of rival powers into military alliances with competitive armaments, or shall it be a co-operative system built up of mutual confidence between the democracies, of which the continent of Europe up to the borders of Russia now consists-a system with an enduring organization and enduring engagements between its members?
The natural agency for filling this vacuum is the League of Nations-(Hear, hear)-which is not purely a European concern belonging to certain states, but is an organization for filling the vacuum created by the disappearance of that old European system in which the autocracies were more powerful than the democracies.
During the last five years the League of Nations has done an immense amount of good work, most of which is not known to the public. The greatest service of the League has been in creating at Geneva a new international society and a new international civil service. The League has done an enormous service behind the scenes in what might be called international administration, that is, in bringing together experts from different departments of national governments in all sorts of non-contentious matters such as health, transport, etc., and thus building up the fabric of a common civilization. You do not hear of that work until it encounters difficulties, as in the Opium Conference; but very substantial work has been done in a number of cases about which you do not hear. You heard very little about the work of the League for preventing a typhus epidemic in the east of Europe.
You have not a super-bureaucracy in the international service of an international state, but a group of a few score officials who act as a kind of clearing-house for administrative policies and who are the links not only between the foreign offices-because international affairs have now gone far beyond foreign offices-but also between the other departments of governments such as ministries of health, commerce, etc. So that the Sovereign States which come into contact at Geneva no longer meet at one point only, as under the old diplomatic system. They meet at a number of different points, representing the different departments of their governments. If you think that out you realize that the reproach sometimes leveled at the League in the United States-that it is a superstate--is absolutely without foundation. (Hear, hear). If the League were really a super-state it would have to run not simply the foreign offices of the world, but all those activities in other departments which have passed beyond national frontiers--activities in the department which is concerned with the improvement of communications, the prevention of international epidemics, and so forth.
I think the most enduring part of the work of the League is that it is steadily building up, unknown to the general public, the fabric of that common civilization which became common in the nineteenth century as a result of the industrial revolution and the spread of international trade, but which on its political and governmental side has somewhat lagged behind the requirements of modern civilization.
But it is another side of the League's work with which we are particularly concerned at this moment. The League was preached by President Wilson and by British statesmen in 1918 and 1919, not simply as an organization of international co-operation in noncontentious and humanitarian activities. It was preached, above all, as a League of mutual insurance, of mutual protection. It was preached as a substitute for the old system of military alliances. You will remember that at the Peace Conference of 1919 Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson had many arguments with Monsieur Clemenceau on the subject of the guarantees required by France against a fresh invasion, and the British view put forward very strongly at that time was that the League ought to be a sufficient guarantee for the French people, and that no occupation of the Rhine was needed. The French on the other hand asked that the frontier of Germany be ended at the Rhine, that an independent state be created west of the Rhine, and that France have a permanent hold on that river. You remember that the occupation of the Rhine was cut down to fifteen years, and a British-American-French alliance was substituted as an additional guarantee because at that time French opinion was not reconciled to the idea that the League of Nations was a sufficient guarantee for their safety. There was, however, at that time no doubt in anybody's mind that the League, with its Articles Ten and Sixteen, was intended to be a mutual insurance society. That was why the smaller nations joined it. You would not have had these forty odd nations, now fifty-five in all, joining the League in 1919 and later had it merely been a humanitarian agency. They joined because they saw in it a protection against the aggression of their greater neighbours, and also because they hoped it would in time become a vehicle for the expression of law in international affairs, and hence develop a force behind that law. And that is in fact the development which has been taking place in the last five years.
I have been at Geneva regularly during the meetings of the Assembly since the second one in 1921 and one of the most significant things is the way in which the small powers have taken their place side by side with the large powers. The old European concert was a concert of great powers; the Council of the League today has the representation of small states side by side with great states. Of course in the Assembly the small states preponderate and the voice of the small states really counts. Such men as Branting, who passed away last week, and such men as Benes, of Czecho-Slovakia, are factors of importance now in the councils of Europe, partly because of their own wisdom and knowledge, and partly from the fact that the small states sometimes carry a peculiar weight.
As a result of that the League has been steadily gaining in authority. Moreover, there has taken place in Europe a definite movement of reconstruction and revival. It has not been steady; it has been a little zig-zag; but as a result of five years' activity Europe is in a far better position than anybody dreamed in 1918 it could be; and that revival has been particularly marked in the last twelve months. I doubt whether the enormous amount of good that was done in international relations by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald during his Premiership has been realized in Canada. (Applause) That MacDonald has an unusual knowledge of European conditions and public men and brought that knowledge to bear on the reparations and other problems with remarkable success is recognized by all parties in Great Britain.
There are other elements in Europe which show the improvement in the situation. The new republics which were established as a result of the peace have maintained and consolidated themselves and perfected their organization. The map of Europe looked a little shaky in 1919; it has become solidified since. These countries, which had to create their entire organization, their civil services, their systems of taxation and currency, have perfected their organization and given confidence and assurance of their continuance. The result is that the Assembly of 1924 came together in a far better atmosphere than that of any previous Assembly and that therefore the big problem of the organization of security could really be tackled in a way which was impossible twelve months before, and was psychologically impossible at the Peace Conference itself.
That Assembly met a few months after the election in France which had brought into power a Chamber very different from that elected during the Premiership of Monsieur Clemenceau. It met also on the morrow of the reparations settlement in London and its acceptance by the German Government. The big problem that remained for solution was this of perfecting the League as an organization for giving protection to its members and thus rendering unnecessary those combinations of separate powers, those military alliances into which France and other countries had drifted as the result of the non-ratification of the British-French-American agreement of 1919. France, as you know, had made separate treaties with Belgium, Poland and other countries, and there was also the Little Entente in the Southeast of Europe.
In that atmosphere the French nation and the other nations were willing to put those separate alliances completely under the League of Nations, to make definitely illegal all aggressive military action of any kind, to accept a test of aggression that would operate through the instrumentality of the League and to perfect the mechanism by which the members of the League would be called upon to use their economic and military force in vindication of international right and for no other purpose whatsoever. That is nothing less than to turn into an international police force, or rather a system of co-operating police forces, the foreign armies which used to be competing organizations, now to be moved at the beck and call of law. (Applause)
That was the policy put forward by the British and French Premiers when they came to the League Assembly. Both of them made very fine speeches--MacDonald from the British, and Herriot from the French point of view, each stressing the views of his own country. Then people got together behind the scenes and a joint resolution was passed, MacDonald and Herriot then left Geneva, and the Assembly went into Committee, the joint resolution being remitted to the Legal and Disarmament Committees for their combined study. As a result of four weeks' very intensive work they produced the Geneva Protocol, in which those ideas were worked out in definite form. That Protocol was then brought back to the full Assembly where it was received without a dissenting voice by the representatives of some fifty nations, and remitted to the governments for their sympathetic study. Ten delegations were authorized by their respective governments to sign the Protocol before the Assembly dispersed. It was then left open for further signatures. What happened next? There was a change of government in Britain, and the new British Government asked for more time to study what the representatives of its predecessor had done in Geneva, so that at the December meeting of the League Council Mr. Chamberlain asked that they should wait until the March meeting. That meeting is to come next week, and Mr. Austen Chamberlain is to tell the British House of Commons the results of the examination by the British Government and its experts of the text of this document.
I am not a prophet, but I venture to predict that Mr. Chamberlain will say that this draft, which was drawn up very hastily, after four weeks' work, is in some respects defective; that Britain is not prepared at the moment even to sign with reservations; that she thinks it would be more convenient that the document be gone over again more thoroughly at the next meeting of the Assembly-the body which gave it birth-with a view to getting a text which is acceptable to all the members of the League. That does not mean the rejection of the Protocol, as some cables would seem to suggest; it means putting it back for further inquiry, and I think that that is highly desirable; because this document is so important and far-reaching that the peoples ought not to be committed to it without knowing exactly what it is which they are signing, without realizing that it is a much more important and far-reaching document than the Covenant of the League of Nations itself. (Applause)
The Geneva atmosphere is very stimulating; they worked very hard and there was a good deal of emulation-one nation outrunning another in idealism; and in the end I think most of the delegates felt that they had a good deal to do in educating their own governments. Quite right, but it is an education in the right direction, in my view; and both we in Great Britain and you in Canada ought to spend the intervening five months before the Assembly in studying this document very carefully, going into its issues, studying it both as it affects Canada in her own special interests and as it affects the British Commonwealth, as it affects the whole international society of which, through our membership in the League, we are a part.
Now let me go a little into the details of the document. There are two principles back of it. The first is that war is declared to be a crime; that is to say, that all disputes of whatever kind are required to be submitted for compulsory settlement. That is going rather beyond the Covenant. The Covenant says that you cannot go to war in hot blood; that you accept the obligation of inquiry and delay; and under Article 15 of the Covenant if you cannot agree at the end of the period of inquiry and delay--about nine months--it is still legitimate to go to war. There is a loophole left in the Covenant for war; the Protocol closes that loophole. In reference to that the nations said, "If there is still a loophole for war we must keep up our armaments; but make war illegal; provide us with sanctions of police power against the lawbreaker, and then we will be ready to disarm."
Now, the making of war a crime is an enormous advance in human history. From the beginning of time war has been the recognized mode of settling ultimate differences between nations. Take down any book on international law, and you. will see that international lawyers divide their material into two parts--firstly the law of peace, and secondly the law of war-those laws, so many of which were broken during the late war; those attempts at humanizing war which have proved so futile. Why did they do so? Because law has hitherto been part of the organization of sovereign states, and not a means of regulating the relations between sovereign states. There was no real international law because there was no international court until three years ago, and because there was no organized power to carry out the decrees of such a court even if it existed. Therefore what this document does is to make violence as between states as illegal as violence committed by one citizen upon another citizen in the streets of Toronto. You see what a very far-reaching principle is involved; and I quite agree that we as Britishers and you as Canadians, need to think over very carefully whether you consider the world is sufficiently advanced to embark on those experiments. I am prepared to answer yes, that the higher of the civilized nations are ready for this, but it needs the belief that nations will live up to their best ideals and the belief, as the result of the lessons of the war, that the world is ready to take this big step forward. I would add that it involves thinking over what the alternative is, thinking over what the art of war has become since 1918, thinking what we will all have to do, particularly we in Europe, if we are again to organize on the basis of preparation for war rather than on the basis of enduring peace.
The second principle is a very ingenious method of detecting the criminal. I have argued not infrequently with Germans about the origins of the last war, trying to fix its criminality on the German; but he generally tries to argue you back and back into history until he recalls some disagreeable incident in your own record and in that way goes back to Adam. (Laughter) Now, there is no solution of the problem of criminality along these lines. Nor is there any solution along the line of defining the criminal state, the aggressive state, as the state which fires the first shot. Bismarck was very clever in arranging that the other side fired the first shot. You may provoke a state into aggression; moreover, it is very difficult indeed to find out who does fire the first shot, and air-power has not made it easier.
Now, the method of the Protocol is much easier and more satisfactory. It simply says the criminal state is the state which under the condition of tension or outbreak of hostilities declares itself unwilling to submit the dispute to arbitration. From the psychological point of view I think that is a very ingenious clause, because it is impossible for a government to cover up from its own people its unwillingness to arbitrate. Those ninety-three intellectuals who in 1914 tried to persuade the German people that the acts of their government were righteous went into a whole lot of details and facts, many of them untrue-whether they knew them to be untrue I do not know (laughter) but they were able to confuse the mind of the German public on the issue. I think it will be impossible, in future, to confuse the mind of a public-at any rate a public in a reasonably civilized state--on the simple question, "Is our government willing to arbitrate, or is it not?" If the government is unwilling to arbitrate it will be faced with going into a war of aggression with a large part of its own citizens against it. I think that to make unwillingness to arbitrate the test of aggression is to introduce a very powerful deterrent against a government that meditates aggression. (Applause)
Another point in the Protocol, which is particularly interesting to us in Great Britain and to you in Canada, is that after we have set up the judge-the judge arbitrates, the judge delivers judgment-there must be some one to execute the judgment? Who are to be the police force under the Protocol? In this respect the Protocol aims at solving an ambiguity which has rested on the sanction of the clauses of the Covenant ever since the Paris Conference of 1919. Those clauses are Article 10-which you have several times tried to get amended at Geneva-and Article 16 which says that if there is any breach of the Covenant there shall, ipso facto, be a state of wax between the members of the League and the lawbreaking state, and all financial, commercial and economic relations shall be broken off. It goes on in the second paragraph to say that the Council of the League will recommend what military, naval and other measures are to be taken. Some countries interpret that word "recommend" in the light of a command; others say it was merely platonic, and involved no obligation whatever.
Now, what the Protocol does is to say, firstly, that the obligation to take action against a law-breaker is both moral and legal. That is to say, there can be no neutrality. Secondly, that that assistance must be loyal and effective; each of the signatories is obliged to co-operate in support of the Covenant loyally and effectively; but it limits the need of the actual help to be given by the words--"in the degree which its geographical position and its particular situation as regards armaments allow." That is to say that the obligation is not unlimited as regards the use of military and naval force. In the phrase used at Geneva, we are to give what we have, nothing but what we have; what we have in the present tense, that is to say, we are not called upon to change our military system. We in Great Britain are not called upon under the Protocol to adopt conscription, or to give more than our normal expeditionary force. Neither would you be, and your obligations are further limited by the use of the words "geographical position." Your obligation under the Protocol would be limited to declaring war with the rest of the British Empire, be it by yourselves, or with us; that is your affair; I do not quite understand the constitutional position in that respect (laughter) and cooperating firstly in the boycott and secondly in the blockade as far as you have naval forces that permit you to do so. (Laughter)
There is a technical point here which is very interesting. In the Covenant the Council makes a recommendation, but that recommendation of the Council is struck out of the Protocol. The Council has nothing whatever to say about the operation of the sanctions; it simply passes a resolution that the aggressive state has refused to submit the case to arbitration, then all further action is taken automatically by the states themselves. That is a complete answer to those who say that the British navy, in this scheme, was to be put under the Council. Any slight interference in the operation of the police force that the Council had in Article 16 of the Covenant is struck out of the Protocol. Why? Because the framers of the Protocol contemplated the contingency of Germany becoming 'a member of the Council at no distant date; and while that is a sign of confidence iii the German on their part, their confidence does not go the length of allowing Germany as a member of the Council to exercise its voting power in respect to putting its power in motion. The police power remains where it has been in the old Concert of Europe. When the several states have declared war they put their forces in motion in their own way, as we did in the early stages of the Great War, as we did in the Boxer Rebellion in China, or any other international expedition. Even the question of what' further co-ordination is required is left to be considered in accordance with the existing situation.
One further point is the nature of this compulsory arbitration. I said that all disputes without exception were to be referred for compulsory award, but there are two classes of disputes for which arbitration is inappropriate-those arising out of Treaties and those involving matters of domestic jurisdiction, because those are covered by the existing law. I think dispute is the wrong word for them; I would call them grievances. It is not the function of the Protocol to rewrite international law or treaties, but rather to create that better atmosphere in which alone you can hope that nations will meet around a table to readjust their own relations. In any case you in Canada and perhaps we in the British Empire are the last people to urge the redrawing of the map of Europe and to talk about economic considerations taking precedence of political considerations, and of drawing lines not in accordance with the deliberate will of the people. There are lines drawn in North America which are economically inconvenient, but they were put there by the will of man, and they will be kept there by the will of man; that is the only way in which a democracy can function. The same is true about questions that spring out of domestic jurisdiction. Sometimes when matters come up to a court, the court can only deal with the fact that such and such country is in its full sovereign right in passing such a law, and there the matter ends as far as arbitration is concerned. I have seen a good deal of controversy in newspapers on this side of the water about the Japanese Amendment. I was present when it was framed and I can assure you that its framers had no intention of interfering with the domestic jurisdiction of any country. Every nation is anxious to exercise its full rights over its domestic jurisdiction and if you read the debates which preceded the passing of the Japanese Amendment you will see that point very clearly expressed, particularly by the small nations of Europe, which are extremely jealous of preserving their sovereignty owing to the minority problems in which they are involved.
Now, what about the attitude of Great Britain and Canada to this document? As to Canada I cannot speak; it is for you to make up your own mind; but I am perfectly clear about Great Britain's interests, and also her ideals. I believe that this document is more in the interests of Great Britain and the British Empire than that of any other member of the League, and I will tell you why. Any consolidation of international law is a consolidation of the status quo, just as any strengthening of the municipal law is the strengthening of the social system and existing property rights. Now, the British Empire has a good share of this world's goods; (laughter) it is amongst the "Haves" of this world rather than among the "Have Nots." It has a greater interest in peace and the stability and the furtherance of the existing order than any other state, I should say I think it is of vital interest simply from that point of view alone, without regard to the more idealistic elements of the problem.
This document is generally discussed from the point of view of Europe alone, and people say, "Are we to guarantee the frontiers of Poland?" and so on. They forget that Europe is now one of the stable continents in the world; that the elements of unrest which existed in Europe before the war are largely removed and that what is left is largely the aftermath of the war. For instance, the people in Germany that want to make trouble are mostly the middle-aged and older; they are the backward-looking people. The forward-looking generation has other ideas. The problem of autocracy versus democracy, and the problem of the rights of nationality are both pretty well solved-with a few loose edges -as far as Europe is concerned. When you look at Asia and Africa you will see many possible causes of war that may take some little time to ripen, but which will assuredly face us in a generation or so with a dilemma. "Are we going to settle these by peaceful means, or shall they be settled by violent means?" I think it is vital for us in the British Empire, and it is further vital, to us as white communities, to establish firmly in the mind of the world the idea that violent alterations of the status quo cannot be permitted and that readjustments must come about as the result of peaceful discussion. (Applause)
I see people objecting to a phrase in a commentory on this document in which the Greek representative, Politis, said that in his view peace was more important than justice. I think he is perfectly right and I think to maintain the opposite is not merely foolish but it is Bolshevik. Who maintains that the existing order of society is just? It is very unjust. Some of you are a great deal richer than you ought to be. (Laughter) But that is no reason for saying, "We must get justice first, and only then put the policemen in the street." Exactly the same, to my mind, is true of international society. The world is not justly organized. Maybe the white people have too much. Maybe this or that nation in Europe has extended its frontiers too far. Never mind; we have an existing situation; let us apply the law to it-as we have largely done, because treaties are an element of law; and let us get into the hearts of all people that have grievances that the way to deal with those grievances is the British constitutional means of discussion, and not through the application of violence. (Applause)
There is another respect in which I consider this Protocol represents a great British victory, and which I do not think has been mentioned on this side of the Atlantic. When the British delegation at Geneva announced their support of this document they qualified it in one respect; they were willing to accept the jurisdiction of the Hague court for all juridical disputes, with one reservation, namely, that Great Britain would not surrender her traditional doctrine with regard to the capture of private property at sea in any operations of war in which she was engaged on behalf of the League of Nations. The continental nations accepted that without the least protest. In other words, this was a controversy in which we had been engaged with the continent for something like three centuries, we representing seapower, being in the minority against the land forces. We would be out-voted in the Hague court in the conflict between those two traditions if a legal dispute ever came up. Well, the continental nations accepted our reservation without demur. I was surprised at the ease with which that went through. This document in fact represents a much greater and more important concession to the British than on the question of military alliances. (Applause)
We are in this position in Great Britain. We are faced with the dilemma of how we are to co-operate with the peoples of Europe. You will see that question discussed in the British House of Commons this afternoon. Before the war and up to a few years or even months ago our division of opinion in England was as between those who wished to continue cooperation with the continent, and those who wished us to retire from the continent and go back to the old policy of isolation, and, as it was sometimes said, to concentrate on the Dominions. I think every thinking man and woman in England realizes now that a policy of isolation is impossible because of modern conditions, because .we are as close to the continent today, strategically speaking, as the French were close to the Germans before the war. The policy of the British Empire being, as it were, a separate League of Nations, not co-operating with the rest of the world, is strategically impossible, economically impossible, because Europe is our best market, and if we allow Europe to go back to chaos it will double our unemployment. I do not need to add that it is morally impossible; the links which were forged in that great war cannot and ought not to be broken by our going back to a self-regarding policy. We are in the same position, psychologically, as the French were in 1919. When Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson urged the French to put their full trust in the League of Nations in 1919 we were still hugging the belief that we were adequately protected by the British navy. Now we know we are not. We know that air power, artillery, various other modern developments, submarines also, have very much reduced the value of that sea-power which has been our traditional defence for centuries. We have got to think out our problems anew from the point of view of national interest. We are in this dilemma, that we have got to choose between making alliances of the old-fashioned kind, between the nations just over the other side of the North Sea and the Channel, or going in for this fuller, more comprehensive, more idealistic policy of the League of Nations.
Once that document is fully understood, once our dilemma is fully understood by the people of Great Britain, I have not the least doubt which they will choose. They will choose the larger policy, because it involves lesser military commitments, and because, after all, it is in consonance with our own moral ideas, with the sacrifices and efforts that we made during the war. I am certain that the British delegation will go to Geneva next September, no doubt with a great many reservations on this or that Article--I could formulate some myself-but prepared to make it a workable document and so to co-operate with the other nations along the higher line of development.
The only real opponents of this document are people who have no faith in human nature; people who think that the French, the German, the people in the United States, the Japanese, or-when I am discussing it with foreigners they say the people of the British Empire-will act below themselves. They are the people who frame all sorts of unlikely hypotheses as to this or that difficulty which could arise and with which this document is unable to cope. You cannot put every hypothesis into a document. No document is fool-proof. The only thing you can do is to secure the greatest amount of co-operation, to mobilize the greatest amount of intelligence and good will, to do the least bad thing that you can under the circumstances in which we live and then to trust to statesmanship and wisdom to carry us through. That, after all, is the traditional British policy, and I believe it will also be the policy of Canada. It is not for me to give you any advice about this document; all I want to do is to start you studying it, or perhaps to help you continue your study of it, so that when the moment comes for this whole document, and the problem with which it is associated, to be discussed before fifty-five nations at Geneva next September the Canadian delegates may be armed with the fullest knowledge, the fullest consideration and the fullest moral authority of the Canadian people, based, as I hope, on the highest conception of the interests and of the ideals of Canada. (Loud applause)
REV. DR. CODY voiced the thanks of the Club for this enjoyable address.