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CENTRAL ORGANIZATION FOR SUSTAINABLE PEACE.
International Study Commission No. 1.
Reply from Mr. W.H. de Beaufort, The Hague.
Messrs. Van Leeuwen and Rutgers regret not being able to collaborate on the Report; they are forced to devote their time to more pressing [occupations?]. I allow myself to make a few observations on the question of "[Transport?] Of territory can not take place without the approval of those who live there.
This principle is based on a double basis.
1) The change of nationality entails a change in the political and legal position of the inhabitants of a great importance that it would be very unfair to impose this change by force, without having consulted them.
2) From the point of view of international relations there is an interest of the first order not to disturb the good understanding between the nations for a long time.
History shows us that the desire to return to the domination of the state which has had to abandon one part of its territory to another does not even extinguish [among?] The generations that were born under the foreign domination and that on the other hand, in the country which has suffered a loss of territory, the regret of having lost it and the hope of recovering it remain alive in the hearts of the inhabitants. It is understood that the resulting discomfort is a threat of war, which would only be felt if the annexation was carried out without the consent of the inhabitants.
The application of this principle is limited by two exceptions. 1) By the extent of the territory claims. This extension is so small that it is only a matter of rectification of boundaries that the principle must not be applied. The purpose of these rectifications is generally the repression of the contraband and in these circumstances it is proposable that the majority of the population living in the territory in question is interested in this illicit trade, and strongly opposes the modification. [page 2] proposed borders to hinder their practices. It will therefore be necessary to lay down the rule that in case of annexation the consultation of the inhabitants will take place only in the case where the superficies of the territory and the number of the inhabitants exceed a maximum fixed by international convention.
2) By the moral and intellectual state of the inhabitants. On our planet, people still live so backward that it is not possible for them to pronounce on the change of their political state with full knowledge of the facts. Those who consider robbery and looting as lawful means to be able to meet their needs are the antagonists of a regular government based on the law and leaning on a small police force. They would doubtless oppose without doubt the progress of a civilization whose advantages it can not appreciate. An exceptional arrangement for terrirories inhabited by savages or semi-savages would be desirable. It is quite difficult to formulate it; in all of them it could be established that the population will not be consulted and its majority is illiterate.
As for the questions proposed in the questionnaire sent to me, here are my answers.
A.I.1. By plebisoite. II. To find a general oriterium would be very difficult; the organization of a special authority for the conflicts in question would be seen as a bad thing by the governments of several states. It is better not to increase the difficulties that will arise during the international discussions on the treaty that we hope to conclude.
B.I. Preferably secret ballots. II. If we want to establish a general rule, we will have to give voters the right to vote for Parliament. III. In order to make a success, it will be necessary to avoid complicated arrangements. IV. Before the raft. In each treaty providing for a cession of territory, it should be inserted that the articles relating to this cession can not be ratified until it is ascertained in due form that the inhabitants of the surrendered territory have been consulted in accordance with the established rules and that they gave their consent. If the consultation did not take place six months after the conclusion of the treaty, or if it resulted in the majority of the inhabitants pronouncing against the aforesaid cessation [page 3], they will not be ratified. This non-ratification can not be invoked as a motive to refuse the ratification of the other articles. V. It will be necessary to act according to the circumstances, in any case a scattering of territory and the formation of enclares will have to be avoided as much as possible. VI. They can be observed when it is to create an autonomous state. VII. My answer is negative.