THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS AND THE
FIRST ASSEMBLY AT GENEVA
AN ADDRESS BY RT. HON. SIR GEORGE E. FOSTER,
K.C.M.G., D.C.L., LL.D.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
February 3, 1921
PRESIDENT MITCHELL, in introducing the speaker said, Gentlemen, I am happy to introduce, today, Sir George Foster who will speak on the "League of Nations and the First Assembly at Geneva". We offer him our felicitations on his recent adventure and I am sure you will join with me in giving him congratulations on his recent marriage.
SIR GEORGE FOSTER
Mr. President and Gentlemen,-What I want to say today I must put in as small compass as possible, and it will be in the shape of a simple conversation with you with reference to some things about which you possibly know a good deal more than I do. One requisite of the
Sir George is a Gold Medallist of the University of New Brunswick, was a student in Edinburgh and Heidelberg and later a professor of classics in his Alma Mater. He was elected a member of the House of Commons in 1882 and has held, at different times, the portfolios of Marine and Fisheries, Finance and Trade and Commerce. He supported Trade Preference between the Colonies and the Mother Country in 1892, and in 1903, in a series of brilliant speeches in England and Scotland, he championed Imperial Trade Preference. He was one of Canada's representatives at the Peace Conference, Paris, 1919, and one of the signatories of the Treaty of Versailles. He has recently been called to the Senate.
successful teacher is that he should assume that the class before him knows nothing of his subject, and consequently nothing is to be let escape by him, of information that he wishes to impart to them. May I take that liberty with this audience today, with this admonitory remark, that if there are any precocious students in this assembly who know more than their teacher, just repress your anxiety to set your teacher right while he is doing his preliminary stunt. (Laughter)
I think probably that with some phases of the League of Nations you are all more or less well informed, and I propose today to confine myself to the latest development mainly, (that is) to the First Assembly of The League, which is the newest of the agencies which go to round out the functioning powers of The League of Nations
I may say by way of introduction, however, with reference to the League itself, that I think we may all agree that it is a new and very important experiment in the history of world nations dealing with each other. It has been conceived, it has been launched, and today its functioning agencies are complete, and it is on trial before the world as an experiment which has behind it the hopes and the prayers of the very vast majority of the world's humanity, no matter in what part they reside. Added to that I want to make this remark-that I think the League will work out its functions successfully, not because it works through crowned heads or the heads of democratic countries; not because it may enlist the sympathy of great men in politics, great men in military achievements, great men in naval warfare, great men socalled in any respect; but that, if the League successfully functions and brings out results something near to the wishes of the peoples of the world, it will be because the great mass of the common people-men like ourselves in this community and others-have a knowledgeable sense of what its ideals and purposes are, and are behind it to the full extent of their sympathy and their influence. Therefore it is with great pleasure that I embrace every possible opportunity of speaking to men like yourselves; riot that I may impart much new information but that I may stir up your minds by way of remembrance that this is a matter, the success of which depends upon you; and to ask you in all your capacities of life, insofar as your knowledge and your influence go, first to make yourselves well informed about this business, and secondly to press the battle clean on to the gates. We can win in this work if we set our minds and our hearts upon it. We cannot win if we are apathetic or neglectful of the great opportunity that has come to us.
The League of Nations was really launched with the adoption of the covenant or draft at the Peace Conference. After six thousand years of toilsome progress -progress certainly, undoubtedly-after six thousand years of the trial of other methods, the power and might of armed force, the alliance of one country with another for selfish or partly selfish purposes, the dominations of great conquerors-of which Napoleon in these later times has been a noted exampleall these methods have been tried with the result that at the end of them all the culmination was found in the unparalleled war of the five years from 1914, and the unparalleled and almost unparallelleable disaster which has resulted from that war. The war is over, men; the armistice has been signed; the peace treaties are being signed one by one; but the effects of the war remain with us, deep in our hearts, deep in our homes, deep in every activity-economic, business, or other, as you please-and the trail of the serpent of war will remain with us for many, many years. In the face of this object lesson is it not time that the world tried something else? (Hear, hear) And is not this something that the world may well try? For if disaster and the trail of consequences which you know so well, and which so many have personally experienced, have followed this war which has just ended, what may be said of the trail that would follow another great world war? We cannot conceive it; we cannot face it; we do not want it; we will not have it. (Loud applause)
I think I cannot do better than to read to you the preamble of the covenant which was signed at first by thirty-two nations of the world. The preamble shows what that was. The high contracting parties, that is the thirty-two nations at the Peace Conference and the thirteen that have been added since and the six that were added at the Assembly in virtue of the power of the Assembly to admit new members-forty-seven in allhave set their hand and seal to these principles:-
In order to promote international cooperation and to achieve international peace and security by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, by the prescription of open, just and honorable relations between nations; by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as an actual rule of conduct among Governments; and by the maintenance of justice and of scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealing of organized peoples with one another; we; the High Contracting Powers, agree to this covenant of the League of Nations."
That, to my mind, marks an advance unparalleled and unexampled in the history of the world. Forty-seven nations are now behind this. Some more would be behind it had they been eligible for admission at the time to the League of Nations. Some others have not ratified the Peace Treaty and begun to function as a part of the League of Nations, but the door is open; and to my mind they will come in through that door, although maybe it will need to be enlarged or altered a little to suit the circumstances. Yet, my feeling is strong and my confidence is sure that in one way or other the remaining nations of the world will join with us and become members of the great world peace organization. (Applause)
This covenant of the League of Nations which every man should have a copy of, (and of which a copy can be obtained by corresponding with the League of Nations Union, 15 Grosvenor Crescent, London, together with other pertinent matter with reference to the League of Nations, its ideals and its operations) contains twentysix articles dealing with a wonderful range of functionfirst, as regards membership of the League; second as regards the functioning agencies through which it carries out the obligations of the covenant and of the treaties, and the duties imposed thereby; and thirdly as to the reduction of armaments, one of the prime things to be considered and to be attained in reducing the world from a war status to a peace status. It deals with the guarantees against aggressions of one member against other members; with the different methods of settling international disputes by agreements, helped along by the force of the League, by arbitrations, or by a court of International justice, or by the Assembly or the Council itself; with the sanctions of the League, the methods of imposing not only penalties which will suffice to prevent aggressions but by carrying out efficiently through moral or economic influence the agreements made and the purposes and ideals of the League. It deals with mandatories--that new system of administering what you might call the derelict colonial possessions of conquered empires which have been disassociated from their former territories-mandatories which some nation takes in trust to administer, subject to the terms laid down by the League through its Council, and subject to report of the mandatories to Council, and the consideration of those reports by the Assembly (of which I shall speak a little later) on the basic principles that it is a trust in every respect, and that it is not to be administered for the selfish interest of the mandatory but in the interest of the people that come under the administration itself. Then as to the great social activities which have to do with health, with dangerous drugs and opium, with the traffic in women and children, and with the protection of natives from firewater and firearms and other forms of disintegration and destruction which today are being carried on in nations by national influence, butwhich are shorn of their ultimate object unless you can get the cooperation of all or most of the nations of the world.
Take, for instance, the opium trade. China may do her part, Britain may do her part, India may do her part, but little can be accomplished in a world-wide sense unless you have the other nations cooperating and working along the same lines of prevention and of cure. These the League fosters, commends to the nations and seeks to co-ordinate for their greater success.
Then there is the registration and publication of future treaties. Treaties shall no longer remain hidden in the breasts of diplomats and in the pigeon-holes of administrations, a source of suspicion and an incentive to counter national combinations, but shall be registered at a certain place, shall be public and open to the world. Secret diplomacy will be shorn of its strength. Then there is the revision and modification of treaties already existing or treaties that may be made, if it proves that they become inapplicable to changing circumstances or if it is proved that they serve as a menace to good relations and an incentive to war.
Now, mind you,-and this always has to be kept in mind-it is not the purpose of the League to come into Canada and do Canada's administrative work in any of those particulars, but it is the purpose of the League to supervise, to get accord between all the nations if possible, or as many as possible; and so, on an international basis, by kindly effort and influence, and by wise negotiations, to assist these nations which are trying to carry on singly, to secure world-wide assent and worldwide impetus towards the reforms being carried out.
You see, then, what is covered by the League. It has a wonderful programme, it is a wonderful advance on anything that has preceded it. It heralds an era of peace and good-will, and lights up faintly at first, but with a surety, of growing brightness and power the habitations of the world. This light will grow wider, spread beyond the horizon, cover the sky at last with its soft splendour of peace and good-will amongst the peoples of the world. (Loud applause)
Now, one might say, what interest has Canada in this? Why should she attend meetings of the League of Nations, Assemblies, Councils, or the like of that? Why? Because Canada has a wonderfully precious investment in the future peace of the world. Why did she go to war? And with what blood and treasure did she meet the emergencies of that war? Was it simply to exercise a few battalions or gain a little temporary fame for courage and heroism-which indeed she gained, and rightly gained? Was that all? No; she put her sixty thousand dead, she put her more than a half-million men in khaki, she put her two billions and more of debt, she put these burdens and these sacrifices into an investment for the future peace of the world. (Loud applause) And if we have not been infinitely foolish in spending that blood and treasure, we are infinitely wise in seeing that that investment in trust is made the most of and brings back to us through all the years of the future the beauty and solace of peace, the surcease of war burdens, and the joy of heart and home that world security alone can give. I think Canada has a vested interest which she is bound to see is followed to the end.
Now, as to the organized League. There is a covenant which, as I say, has been signed by forty-seven nations and is being worked out by them. That covenant has its obligations, and those are made a constituent part of every treaty from the Treaty of Versailles on. How, then, are these obligations so imposed in the covenant and the treaties to be carried out? Simply and plainly stated-and insufficiently, because I cannot go into it deeply-her organs of functioning are mainly two.
There is, first, the Council which is appointed by the great powers-one representative on the Council for each one of the great powers. At that time there were five great powers interested. The United States has since declined to ratify the treaty and, though a great power, is not a member of the League and does not appoint her representative on the Council. But the other four great powers have each a representative on the Council, and the Assembly elects four members to represent all the other nations not represented by the five great powers. Those four added to the preceding four make up the eight members of the Council which functions from day to day, from week to week, during the whole year. That is the Council.
Then there is the Assembly which meets once every year, and which has just held its first meeting at Geneva. That Assembly is constituted by delegations from each member of the League of Nations, consequently forty-seven nations-forty-one nations at the beginning of the Assembly, because six were taken in on the latter days of its session-those forty-one nations had each the privilege of sending three delegates to the Assembly. Each nation, however, and mark that, has only one vote; so that Canada in voting and speaking power, had equal privilege and rights in the League of Nations as had France or any other of the nations that belong to the League. Each member state has three representatives but only one vote; and that is a wise thing, because thus you get wide counsel and equality of status among all the represented nations. Then those delegations may have their secretaries and their experts; so, in the first League of Nations, broadly speaking, there were three delegates allowable for each of the forty-one nations, and an expert and a secretary which made up for each delegation the five members who had their seats on the floor of the Assembly Hall.
An initial difficulty which loomed up large and affected the pride of nationality was as to who should have the first seats in the synagogue. (Laughter) Should it be France or should it be Liberia? That was the question, and one was evidently as proud as the other of the seat it should occupy. Some happy individual conceived the idea that, to get over this difficulty, it would be well to arrange the seating in alphabetical order. That was adopted, and I never heard a grumble thereafter with reference to it; and so, South Africa came at the first table with its five, and then the A's followed along-Argentina, Australia, and so on. Then coming up the next row there were the B's until they came to Britain and then, to Canada, and so all down; and the great powers and the little powers on a footing of perfect equality occupied their desks and their seats, and there was no ruffling of anyone's pride.
Next came up the language difficulty. On the 15th November we met there, about 110 delegates, we will say, from forty-one different nations, of all colors, of all races, of all creeds, of all languages. How in the world were they to communicate with one another so long as Volapuk had not conquered the world, and Esperanto was still in its infancy? One might well think that it would be a second Tower of Babel in its confusion of tongues. It was started on the supposition that French and English should be the official languages. Immediately there developed a feeling amongst some others of the Latin race. I think there were about seventeen Latin nations, or their off-shoots, which spoke the Spanish language and so the question came up as to why Spanish should not also be an official language. The seventeen representatives of nations speaking Spanish made their plea and made it very strongly. It was discussed, and after discussion, in which both sides had maintained what were the difficulties and what would be the advantages, a perfect unanimity was attained. Why? Because common sense added to the vital, dominant spirit of that Assembly-that they were there for the purpose of realizing the ideals of the League and not sticking upon points of language or other un-essentials--brought them all together at the last and the thing was solved in the following way: If a Spaniard wants to speak in Spanish, let him make his speech; but he must provide that it be translated in either English or French, and the translation given to his remarks then goes before the Assembly and is in the record just the same as it would be had he spoken in English or French. But as a matter of fact, of practical difficulty we experienced none. Every delegate in that Assembly from all those different nations was able to express himself either in French or English, so that what seemed to be a wonderful difficulty thus solved itself in that natural way, and we had no further trouble with it. Where a delegate spoke in English, it was immediately translated into French; or, if he spoke in French, it was immediately translated into English, and the delegates had the ideas of the speaker. There was no difficulty found in reference to that.
But when we came into that Assembly on that bright and beautiful morning, the 15th November, at the great historic city of Geneva, we were really there as delegations from forty-one nations, totally unacquainted with each other except as perhaps somebody might know somebody else upon some of the delegations; but, practically, we were all sitting down there totally strange to each other. Now came the test of what many people said would be a difficulty which would be inescapable. How are those men to get together, make their ideas known and get down into a working capacity? It would be bad enough in a Tory convention or in a Liberal powwow (laughter) where people do know each other and in which all are impressed with their party ideals; but bringing in strangers of all races, creeds, religions, and languages, from all parts of the world, and setting them down in an Assembly Hall, it would appear as though they never would get acquainted with each other and never would get on a serviceable and operating basis.
Well, as in many other things, the trial in the right spirit worked out satisfactorily, and I never saw a set of people of one nationality, or of more, coming together in a conventional or quasi-parliamentary way, who got to work so quickly, so amicably, so smoothly, as did that First Assembly of the World League of Nations.
I think I am right in saying that, taking the social functions into account, the committee intimacies into account, and the general spirit that pervaded all, inside of a week we had sized up each other, become well acquainted, and were prepared to go ahead on the basis of friendly and practical understanding. Now, there is where the benefit comes in trying a thing. The doubter says, "No, it is absolutely impossible; you will be a veritable Tower of Babel and you will never get on. Well, we did get together and we did get on.
The first thing necessary was to elect a President, and that was done on the first day. I suppose it was the spirit of unity and amity, helped a little by the foresight of some of the delegates who may have had some communication one with another, but it all worked out smoothly. The man who presided provisionally was Mr. Hymans, the representative on the Council for Belgium, who called the meeting to order. An address of welcome was given by the President of the Swiss Federation. Then we came to the point of electing the permanent President, and that was to be done by secret ballot. The leader of each delegation was to proceed from his seat up to the dais and put the vote into the box and then pass down again in regular order. Mr. Motta of Switzerland who, by courtesy, might have had claims to be President of the Assembly meeting in his own country, proposed Mr. Hymans of Belgium as permanent President. His name was put to the vote, and he was elected by a great majority, though some sympathetic votes were given, as is common in more or less distinguished assemblies in our own and in other countries.
Then, how were these people to proceed in carrying out the business? There were no rules of procedure. It was solved very sensibly and excellently well. The Secretariat had prepared a provisional set of rules of procedure, and after a little discussion these were accepted by the Assembly, subject to certain amendments. A committee was appointed to formulate permanent rules, and we went on under the provisional ones. In due time there came along the amended rules which were reported to the Assembly, fairly discussed, and adopted and these guided us to the end of our work. You see, after all, though many had anticipated a very Babel, how easily and naturally through sensible conduct and reasonable patience, a solution was obtained. After all, we were not there ten days, perhaps not five days, until those delegates, one and the other, took no account of a man's creed or a man's colour or a man's nationality or a man's language, but every man went for his simple human worth, and we took a suggestion just as kindly and as well from the dark as from the white races. It was a fine democratic equality, all states equal, and all equal, not in the form of prescription or letter or word, but all equal in the realization of the great idea that we were members of the human race and that that one element is indeed the important thing. (Loud applause)
Now, as to the business. How was that conducted? First of all, we elected a President and then twelve VicePresidents, and the President and the twelve Vice Presidents took general supervision of the business of the Assembly. They met frequently, prepared and supervised the order of proceedings, and held a sort of a guiding hand over the work of the Assembly as a whole. That worked very well. It is not immodest for me to remark here-that Canada received one of the VicePresidencies of the Assembly. (Applause) Six great commissions or committees were set up, each with its own line of subjects; and every proposal and resolution which came up in the Assembly itself, or however it originated, was sent to the commission which had that subject in charge. On each side of these commissions there was one delegate for each nationality, forty-one members in all. There again we came together and sat around the long tables, with every nationality represented, and the same form of procedure was followed as in the Assembly. We got within arm's length there, and the process of mutual understanding and getting at each other's point of view, was more quickly and more effectively worked out. On all those six commissions the delegates of Canada had places, one on each; and once for all I may say that they took up their share of the work, applied their best energy and ability to the work, and I think they did, well, pretty nearly as good work as the delegation of any other nation that was represented Having said that, and having due appreciation for the youth and modesty of my friend, Mr. Rowell, I will not go any further in praise of the Canadian delegation. (Laughter and applause) These commissions were really educational institutions. It was wonderful how soon we came to know each other's trend of thought, though coming from a background of centuries of tradition and education, each different from the other, which makes the viewpoint of one man necessarily different from the viewpoint of another brought up among different traditions and different ways of thinking. But there again, Gentlemen,-and it is the hope of the League of Nations-there never was a time when the impelling idea, the guiding spirit, that we were there to work out the ideals of the League of Nations, was not uppermost and did not in the end dominate and bring us to accordant conclusions.
There is one thing about the Assembly, as about the Council meetings,-that while having different functions to perform, set out in the covenant, and in the Treaty, and obligatory upon them, and whilst having some functions which they performed jointly, there must, with reference to most of them, be complete unanimity or the thing cannot be concluded. We did arrive, on all the great questions which were debated, at a unanimous conclusion in the end, and it was not a conclusion by mere compromise which weakened the essential qualities and made the result pointless and ineffective but it was a compromise of good feeling on a sensible plan which worked out, if not perfectly in the minds of all, yet effectually, each of the great issues which were discussed and upon which conclusions were reached That is to be kept in mind by us. If forty-one nations could do that through their representatives, what is to prevent the whole world of nations doing it? (Applause) And if that almost insuperable objection, variety of tongues and nationalities and the necessity of getting unanimity on those questions, in practice actually worked no hindrance when forty-one nations were debating and deciding them, is there not fair warrant for assuming that if we had the few others that still remain outside in the League the same thing would take place? (Hear, hear) The objector's view vanishes when you come to humanity getting together on a common plane where ideas rise above the tribal and the local and the selfish and merge into a great sentiment of peace for all nations and how best to secure it and to avoid the curse and scourge of war. (Applause)
Just here the point occurs as to how many nations are yet outside the League? Germany, Hungary and Turkey are still out; Austria and Bulgaria and four other small countries were taken in at Geneva. Outside of the League of Nations today, excepting enemy nations that have not yet been admitted but to whom the door is open, and who will be welcomed once they give the necessary guarantees of sincerity to enable them to become coworkers with the other members of the League-how many? Soviet Russia is out, awaiting the period of settled government; Mexico is out, and all would like to have Mexico in. With one or two exceptions, all of South America is in the League. The United States is not yet a member of the League and that is universally regretted. Well, just put the nations together and count up the population and you will find that seventy-five per cent. of the populations of the world are within the League today, (loud applause) and to suppose that the League will stop functioning because two or three of the nations of the world have not yet adhered thereto is, to my mind, untenable and unreasonable. The impetus behind, the driving power, all that desire which rises like a prayer from every hamlet and territory in the wide world, all those high ideals which draw men and nations toward higher and better spheres of action, the cultivation of openness and frankness in international dealings, and the settlement of disputes by arbitration and legal tribunals-that impetus, that high ideal is sufficient to carry humanity through to the ultimate realization of all that is purposed in the great League experiment now being tried out in the world. (Applause)
Time fails, and I fail with time (laughter and voices, "No") although I am making the best struggle I can against the old chap and I have stuck it out so far. (Great laughter and applause) Time fails me to go into particulars as to what has been accomplished. Two or three very brief, sketchy allusions must suffice.
What has the Council of the League of Nations done? That I will not touch in detail though it has done vitally important work in the few months of its existence. What has the First Assembly done to justify its calling together? Well, amongst other things, it has organized itself and that was a wonderfully big thing to do, and it has thus completed the working organism of the League of Nations. Up to the meeting of the Assembly, the League possessed only a Council of Eight, far removed from the locality and ready cognizance of the nations that formed the League, sitting occasionally in Paris, in London, in Brussels, in Italy, and trying to carry on. That Council has been in actual operation only about six months. But how vivifying, how vitalizing a working force is provided by the forty-seven nations of the world in the person of their representatives coming fresh from the field, who establish an Assembly, discuss everything that has been done by the Council, lay out future plans, and authorize the functioning of other bodies, and so vitalize and strengthen the whole working machinery-a limited and restricted machinery until it was thus completed. Think then that the Assembly has met, has organized itself, and thus rounded out the mechanism of the League which is in itself a great achievement. (Applause)
But it did more than that. It caught the eye of the world. Newspaper men from every quarter were there. Everything that was said and done was flashed out to every quarter of the world. There was provided a forum at which the representatives of three-fourths of the world's population met to discuss, in the sight of all men, those great questions which are necessarily to be solved if the world shall have rest from war. It is a great thing to have a world platform, where every year the representatives of the nations of the world may voice their sentiments, may formulate their conclusions, and embody those conclusions into forms of executive work. (Hear, hear)
But the Assembly has done more than that, to my mind. If nothing more were done than that these representative men of forty-seven nations should meet, exchange views on vital matters, find themselves in unison, cement lasting friendships, and work for common ideals through six weeks with practical results; that in itself is worth the calling together of an Assembly of the League of Nations. It solves the doubt of the sceptic; it freshens the hope and strengthens the optimism of the members of the League in the final success of its high purposes; and it is a proof that, if we set ourselves to pursue unfalteringly the objects in view, we may rest assured that succeeding Assemblies will show even better results when the League of Nations is fully linked up and all its functions are capable of being performed.
One other thing has been accomplished which I must not forget to mention and that is, probably, the most important achievement of the Assembly session; the establishment of a Court of International Justice. Let us see what has been done in that respect. The Council called together ten of the famous jurists of the world, of whom Mr. Elihu Root of the United States was one of the most distinguished. They met, and devoted six weeks to examination and conference. They came to a unanimous conclusion on a proposal for a Court of International Justice. They sent that to the Council of the League. The Council of the League took it into consideration, made some changes and passed it on to the Assembly. The Assembly sent it to one of its large commissions, where it was referred to a special committee of ten-five of whom were members of the original body of jurists of which I have just made mention, and five others from the Assembly itself. Of that sub-committee, the Canadian Minister of justice was a member, and I know from personal observation and knowledge that he was one of the most influential members upon that sub-committee. (Applause) This committee came to a unanimous conclusion which was reported to the Assembly, and the Assembly adopted it with unanimity. (Applause) There you have a most notable advance upon anything before attempted. You have not merely arbitration as agreed upon by two States before an ad hoc judge, not a mere arbitration such as is carried on by the Hague Arbitration Court; where the parties choose their own judges, but you have a permanent body of jurists.
The great difficulty in the matter heretofore was as to who should nominate the judges. The great powers said, "Let us nominate them". The smaller powers said, "We have interests at stake and cannot consent to that course, and so it was impossible to get the proper basis on which to select the court of arbitration. It was overcome in this way-ingeniously, I think, and practically well. The International Hague Arbitration Court has groups of nations adhering thereto and those groups of nations are called upon to nominate, each one, four of its best judges fulfilling certain conditions. They must not have political or diplomatic relations with their Governments, they must be free from political influence, and such judges are nominated for every group of nations. Any nations not in the groups, under the Hague Arbitration Court are allowed to associate themselves in groups and nominate four each. So you have nominated by the nations four of their distinguished jurists under limiting conditions that take them out of the political atmosphere; and from that roster the Council and Assembly conjointly select a court of eleven judges and four deputy judges. This plan goes for ratification to the different members of the League. Already twenty-three members of the League have signified their adhesion to the plan and it comes into force when the majority of the nations have ratified it. There is every possibility, there is almost a certainty, that when the Assembly meets next September in Geneva that the way will be opened for the selection of the judges and the Court will be constituted. There you have a tribunal set up before whom the disputes of nations may go-a legal tribunal above political influence, absolutely independent, there to sit for that purpose and for nothing else. The moral force of this achievement will be so great that I don't think there is any civilized nation in the world that will forego the privileges attached to such a tribunal for the peaceful settlement of all international disputes. Now that is a gain which is inestimable in its value, not only in itself but as a forerunner of what may come.
In conclusion, if we don't have this League of Nations as I have imperfectly described it, to what shall we revert? Back again to private alliances amongst ambitious nations? Secret treaties between them? All the old effects of alliances for domination for selfish purposes of one kind or another? Back into that maelstrom from which we have issued through the great war? That, or the League of Nations functioning in this way, are the only alternatives.
Again I appeal to a world which has bled and suffered, and is suffering today, which has sowed the seed of blood and treasure, expenditure which is incalculable, to work out its future on the high planes that I have described; that or back again to the maelstrom of possible and of probable war. Is there any alternative? Is there any chance for a man not making his decision between the two? Surely, surely, not today when these recollections are fresh upon us; when the heartstrings still strain and the hearts still bleed; when the trail of consequences almost blots out from our view the promise of economic, business and financial activity and progress in the world. Knowing all these things as we see them now, by the light of a tremendous war and of the fell disaster which has followed as a consequence, is there any point anywhere on which a man can hinge himself upon giving or not giving his entire adhesion and the full force of his power and influence towards the working out of this great experiment?
We are called upon in this our age to a responsibility which our forefathers never had. When has the world had an opportunity of choice between two such great alternatives as this? In the name of the trust-the trust in which we have invested so much sacrifice of blood and treasure-it is for us who are the recipients and the holders of that trust to work up to it, to put hearts and minds into it, and maintain for future centuries the great step in advance which has arisen out of the woes and experiences, bitter and deep, of the six thousand years which have preceded us. (Loud applause, the audience rising and cheering)
THE HON. SIR WILLIAM MULOCK, CHIEF JUSTICE
Sir William in moving a vote of thanks to Sir George Foster for his inspiring, instructive and eloquent address, said that this was the best speech he had ever heard Sir George deliver. The day had passed when nations could live isolated from each other. Whatever excuses there may have been for the old methods of dealing with international disputes, they did not apply in these days of steam and electricity, and nations had no right to keep aloof from each other in a world where so many interests were held in common. The issue before the nations today is to establish justice in the earth, and the address which has just been delivered will be a most helpful contribution towards the desired end.