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state from interfering with the discharge by the heads of other states of their high and important duties. It may be confidently asserted that it was not intended to lay down the principle that an abdicated or deposed chief of state cannot be arraigned before an international tribunal for high crimes committed by him against other nations while he was in power. The fact is, cases like that of the former German Emperor are not governed by the established rules of international law; whether he should be tried by an international tribunal and punished, if convicted, is rather a matter of expediency and of international policy than of municipal or international law.
The Peace Conference set a new precedent, one that is to be highly commended, in affirming the principle that individual offenders against the laws of war, whenever their acts are criminal in character, are personally responsible and liable to punishment, and in endeavoring to give practical effect to this principle by requiring German offenders during the recent war to be delivered up for trial and punishment. In relieving the chief offender, the ex-Kaiser, from responsibility for criminal acts which he permitted, if he did not directly approve and encourage, the Conference failed, in the opinion of many persons, to go to the limit which logic, consistency and considerations of equal justice required. Had it affirmed the elementary principle that no man, however high his station, is above the law, and that heads of states who are commanders-in-chief who permit, approve and even encourage the commission of crimes by their subordinates in the field, are equally guilty and that they can not escape responsibility by taking refuge under the plea of an immunity which was really never intended to shield them from the consequences of their crimes, the moral effect in the wars of the future would have been most salutary. It would have been tantamount to the serving of notice on chiefs of states that he who provokes an unjust war, who wages it according to cruel and barbarous methods, who permits and sanctions atrocities by his troops, who approves and even encourages shocking violations of the most elementary and long-established laws and usages of war, and who rewards by decorations and promotions their authors, does so with full knowledge that if he is defeated he will be brought to the bar of justice and punished equally with the humblest soldier who has been compelled to violate the law, and who, for this and other reasons, may be a thousand times less responsible.
COMMISSION ON THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE AUTHORS OF THE WAR AND ON ENFORCEMENT OF PENALTIES
REPORT PRESENTED TO THE PRELIMINARY PEACE CONFERENCE
March 29, 1919
The Preliminary Peace Conference at the plenary session on the 25th January, 1919 (Minute No. 2), decided to create, for the purpose of inquiring into the responsibilties relating to the war, a commission composed of fifteen members, two to be named by each of the Great Powers (United States of America, British Empire, France, Italy and Japan) and five elected from among the Powers with special interests.
The Commission was charged to inquire into and report upon the following points:
1. The responsibility of the authors of the war. 2. The facts as to breaches of the laws and customs of war com
mitted by the forces of the German Empire and their Allies, on land, on sea, and in the air during the present
3. The degree of responsibility for these offences attaching to
particular members of the enemy forces, including members of the General Staffs, and other individuals, however
highly placed. 4. The constitution and procedure of a tribunal appropriate for
the trial of these offences. 5. Any other matters cognate or ancillary to the above which
may arise in the course of the enquiry, and which the Commission finds it useful and relevant to take into consideration.
Official English text, reprinted from Pamphlet No. 32, Division of International Law, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D. C., in which the report and all appendices are published in full, with an introductory note by James Brown Scott, Technical Delegate of the United States to the Peace Conference and one of the American members of the Commission.
At a meeting of the Powers with special interests held on the 27th January, 1919, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Roumania and Serbia were chosen as the Powers who should name representatives. (Minute No. 2. Annex VI.)
After the several states had nominated their respective representatives, the Commission was constituted as follows:
United States of America:
Hon. Robert Lansing.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon Hewart, K.C., M.P.
Sir Ernest Pollock, K.B.E., K.C., M.P.
(Alternate: Captain R. Masson.)
(Alternates: Mr. Ricci Busatti, Mr. G. Tosti.)
Mr. M. d'Amelio (16th February).
Mr. N. Politis.
Mr. C. Skirmunt. Later, Mr. N. Lubienski (14th February).
Mr. S. Rosental.
Professor Slobodan Yovanovitch.
(Alternates: Mr. Koumanoudi, Mr. Novacovitch.)
Mr. Lansing was selected as Chairman of the Commission, and as Vice-Chairmen, Sir Gordon Hewart or Sir Ernest Pollock and Mr. Scialoja. Mr. A. de Lapradelle (France) was named General Secretary and the Secretaries of the Commission were:
Mr. A. Kirk, United States of America; Lieutenant-Colonel O. M. Biggar, British Empire; Mr. G. H. Tosti, Italy; Mr. Kuriyama, Japan; Lieutenant Baron J. Guillaume, Belgium; Mr. Spyridion Marchetti, Greece; Mr. Casimir Rybinski, Poland.
Mr. G. H. Carmerlynck, Professeur agrégé of the University of France, acted as interpreter to the Commission.
The Commission decided to appoint three Sub-Commissions.
Sub-Commission I, on Criminal Acts, was instructed to discover and collect the evidence necessary to establish the facts relating to culpable conduct which (a) brought about the World War and accompanied its inception, and (b) took place in the course of hostilities.
This Sub-Commission selected Mr. W. F. Massey as its Chairman.
Sub-Commission II, on the Responsibility for the War, was instructed to consider whether, on the facts established by the SubCommission on Criminal Acts in relation to the conduct which brought about the World War and accompanied its inception, prosecutions could be instituted, and, if it decided that prosecutions could be undertaken, to prepare a report indicating the individual or individuals who were, in its opinion, guilty, and the court before which prosecutions should proceed.
This Sub-Commission selected alternatively Sir Gordon Hewart or Sir Ernest Pollock as Chairman.
Sub-Commission III, on the Responsibility for the Violation of the Laws and Customs of War, was instructed to consider whether, on the facts established by the Sub-Commission on Criminal Acts