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The Commission itself met in Rio de Janeiro in the summer of 1912, and passed out of existence in the course of the same summer. The procedure to be followed had not been proposed beforehand, and proj. ects for discussion had not been drafted and circulated among the interested Republics in advance of the meeting. When the delegates from seventeen States met, the Brazilian Government laid before them codes of public and private international law prepared respectively by Dr. Epitacio Pessốa and Dr. Lafayette Rodriguez Pereira.16 The Commission was unwilling to consider the codification of either public or private international law in its entirety. Although the first article of the convention stated that the Commission was to meet, "for the purpose of preparing a draft of a code of private international law and one of public international law, regulating the relations between the nations of America," the members declared themselves in favor of partial and progressive codification of each of the two branches of international law, and appointed a number of committees to collect information from the American governments, and to prepare reports on the subjects submitted to them for the consideration of the Commission at a later session.
The outbreak of the war in Europe in 1914 which affected profoundly the thought of the world and the relations of the American Republics--some of which were eventually drawn into the conflictput an end to the labors of the first American Commission for the Codification of International Law. However, codification was to be adjourned only for the moment. In the Spring of 1923, some three years after the World War was officially declared to be ended, eighteen of the American Republics met in conference at Santiago de Chile, and in this fifth of the Pan American assemblies, a resolution was voted in favor of reconstituting the International Commission of Jurists, to be composed of two members from each of the American Republics, to meet in Rio de Janeiro, to proceed anew to the codification of public and private international law. The resolution contemplated the partial and progressive codification of public international law, and recommended to the Commission the projects of Mr. Alejandro Alvarez as a basis for discussion.17 A code of private international law was also to be prepared.
The Honorable Charles Evans Hughes was then Secretary of State of the United States, and, as such, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Pan American Union, as it was then organized. Deeply inter
The Portuguese texts of these codes are printed in Epitacio Pessoa, Codigo de Direito Internacional Publico and Lafayette Rodrigues Pereira, Codigo de Direito Internacional Privado (Rio de Janeiro, Imprensa Nacional, 1911).
17 For Spanish text of these projects, see Alejandro Alvarez, La Codificación del Derecho Internacional en América: Trabajos de la Tercera Comisión de la Asamblea de Jurisconsultos reunida en Santiago de Chile (Santiago de Chile, Imprenta Universitaria, Estado 63, 1923), pp. 65 ff.
ested in the codification of both branches of international law, he was anxious that projects of both should be prepared well in advance of the meeting of the Jurists in Rio; that the projects should be drafted by unofficial publicists of repute, and transmitted by the Pan American Union to the various American governments, and by them laid before the International Commission of Jurists, for such consideration as its members should care to give to them. Therefore, Secretary Hughes proposed to the Governing Board of the Pan American Union, at its meeting of January 2, 1924, that the American Institute of International Law be invited to prepare a series of projects on public international law. The motion was unanimously adopted. The American Institute was thereupon invited to prepare the projects. It did so, and on March 2, 1925, Secretary Hughes was able to lay before the Governing Board a series of some thirty projects on timely and important phases of public international law.18 He advised that they be transmitted by the members of the Board to their respective Governments, and by them laid before the Commission to serve as a basis of discussion.
In presenting the projects in the four official languages of the Americas, Secretary Hughes said : 19 “At last we have texts and projects, the result of elaborate study, for consideration. We have the inspiration and stimulus of this action full of promise for the world. We feel that, thanks to American initiative, we are on the threshold of accomplishment in the most important endeavor of the human race to lift itself out of the savagery of strife into the domain of law breathing the spirit of amity and justice.” And he thus concluded his remarks: “I believe that this day, with the submission of concrete proposals which take the question of the development of international law out of mere amiable aspiration, marks a definite step in the progress of civilization and the promotion of peace, and for that reason will long be remembered. For in this effort we are not unmindful of the larger aspects of the question, and it is our hope that the American Republics by taking advantage of this opportunity may make a lasting contribution to the development of universal international law."
The success of the American Institute in framing projects of public international law suggested to Secretary Hughes the feasibility of preparing a code of private international law. He therefore proposed at the same session of the Governing Board of the Pan American Union—the last [at] which he was to preside—that the Executive Committee of the American Institute be invited to prepare “a project or series of projects embodying the principles and rules of private international law for the consideration of the commission of jurists."
16 For texts, see American Institute of International Law, Codifcation of American International Law: Projects of Conventions Prepared at the Request on January 2, 1924, of the Governing Board of the Pan American Union, etc. (Washington, Pan American Union, 1925).
See ibid., p. 3, par. 2, 1. 2.
This motion was unanimously adopted by the Board, and a special committee of the American Institute, which had already been appointed by that body at its meeting in Lima in anticipation of such a request, undertook the preparation of the desired code. The distinguished publicist of Cuba, Mr. Antonio Sanchez de Bustamante y Sirvén, laid aside the many important and pressing calls upon his time, to prepare a code of private international law. This was done in the course of a few weeks, approved with slight modifications by the committee of the American Institute at a special meeting in Habana, laid before the Governing Board of the Pan American Union on February 3, 1926,20 by Mr. Hughes' successor, Secretary of State Kellogg, [and] transmitted to the Governments of the American Republics to be by them laid before the International Commission of Jurists. Therefore when this body met in Rio de Janeiro on April 16, 1927, it found itself in possession of thirty projects of international public law, and a code of private international law of no less than 435 articles.
The members of the International Commission of Jurists met in Rio de Janeiro under very different conditions from those of its predecessor of 1912. It was ready to go to work, and it lost no time in getting to work. In advance of the opening meeting the delegates already in Rio met informally at the residence of Mr. Rodrigo Octavio, the second of the Brazilian delegates, and himself a person of great and deserved distinction in the domain of private international law. Mr. Epitacio Pessoa, who had been President of the first Commission and, in the interval between the two, President of the Republic of Brazil, was also present. This informal and unofficial exchange of views great[ly] facilitated the future labors of the Conference. It was there suggested that Mr. Pessôa should be asked to preside over the Commission; that the rules of the first Commission with sundry modifications and additions should be adopted, and that the Commission should be divided into two sections, to be composed of delegates from all of the Republics represented: Subcommission A, for public international law; Subcommission B, for private international law; that a Subcommission C, of five members, should be appointed to consider the ways and means of continuing the work of codification after the adjournment of the Commission; a Committee D, likewise of five members, for the uniformity of international legislation. These suggestions proposed by Mr. Victor M. Maurtua, delegate of Peru, met with unanimous
See American Institute of International Law, Codification of American International Law: A Project of a Code of Private International Law, Prepared at the Request, on March 2, 1925, of the Governing Board of the Pan American Union, etc. (Washington, Pan American Union, 1926).
approval. It was also suggested by the members present, upon the motion of Mr. Bustamante, delegate of Cuba, that Mr. Maurtua should respond in behalf of the Commission to the address of wel. come of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, at the formal opening of the Commission.
Saturday, the 16th of April, had been agreed upon for the opening session of the Commission, but as this was a holiday, and as some of the delegations would not arrive on or before that date, the 18th was proposed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The members of the Commission met in the Monroe Palace at four o'clock of the afternoon of the 16th. The delegations of twelve countries, the quorum required for a regular meeting was present. Mr. Pessôa made a report of the informal suggestions and the proposal was adopted to have the formal opening take place on the evening of the 18th.
At five o'clock on the afternoon of Monday, the 18th, the delegates of seventeen American Republics met in the Senate Chamber of the Monroe Palace in a formal, which, however, the official minutes somewhat inaccurately call a preliminary session. The suggestions of the informal meeting of April 14th and of the regular session on the 16th were laid before the members and approved. The proposal of Mr. Pessoa by Mr. Bustamante as temporary President of the Commission was unanimously adopted; the rules of 1912 21 as amended were likewise adopted; the division of the Commission into subcommissions was agreed to, as were the appointments of other committees. The appointment by several Republics of a single delegate instead of two, as recommended by the resolution of the Fifth Pan American Conference of Santiago, made it impossible for the two Commissions to meet at one and the same time, as the one delegate would be obliged to attend the session of each of the subcommissions. This cut in half the working hours of each, and laid an undue burden on the single delegates. It operated to the disadvantage of the Subcommission on public international law, as the Subcommission on private international law was to meet in the mornings, and that of public international law in the afternoons, when the Plenary sessions of the Commission were to be held. One or other had to suffer unless the plenary sessions should be in the evenings. This was, however, looked upon with disfavor and, with the exception of the formal opening, the plenary sessions were held in the afternoons at the expense of public international law.
Upon the proposal of the delegation of the United States, both members of the various delegations were allowed to register in and
- For a draft of regulations for the International Commission of Jurists, as proposed at the first meeting in 1912, see Foreign Relations, 1912, p. 32.
attend both Subcommissions. This enabled them personally to take part in the sessions of the Subcommission of public international law, and, by their presence, to show their interest in the Subcommission of private international law. This is believed to have been the first occasion on which official delegates of the United States attended and took part in an official conference on the conflict of laws, to give private international law the name by which it is generally known in the English-speaking world.
At 9 o'clock on the evening of April 18th, the International Commission of Jurists met in plenary and official session. Mr. Pessoa, its temporary President, called the meeting to order and appointed a committee of three to await his Excellency Mr. Mangabeira, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, and to escort him to the Chair. The Minister appeared and opened the Commission with a gracious and earnest address of welcome, in which he contemplated, indeed, predicted the success of its labors.
[Here follow extracts from Mr. Mangabeira's address. For full text, see Bulletin of the Pan American Union, October 1927, volume 61, page 956.]
On behalf of the Commission whose sessions were thus formally opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Maurtua, of Peru, responded in the three-fold character of statesman, jurist, and philosopher. His address is too long to be reported in this place, and it is dangerous to paraphrase in English more than a few of its passages from a Portuguese print of a Spanish original.
[Here follows a summary, with quotations, of Mr. Maurtua's address. A full text is printed in Bulletin of the Pan American Union, October 1927, volume 61, page 957.]
At the conclusion of his address, Mr. Maurtua proposed as permanent President, Mr. Epitacio Pessôa, senior Delegate of Brazil, and former President of the Commission of Jurists of 1912. Elected without the formality of a vote, he assumed the Presidency amid the applause of his colleagues, and immediately delivered an excellent and admirably phrased address, so clearly pronouncing his Portuguese that even the foreigners divined its meaning, although they lost here and there a word, a phrase, or even a sentence. The American delegates feel it their duty to reproduce a paragraph or two in the text of this report, although the entire address is given in the appendix.22
[Here follow extracts from Mr. Pessoa's address. For full text, see Bulletin of the Pan American Union, October 1927, volume 61, page 961.]
This was the atmosphere in which the official delegates of seventeen of the American Republics met, and this was the spirit in which they
The appendix containing Mr. Pessoa's address has not been found in Department files.