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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 168-169

International Arbitration

Bahá’u’lláh also advocated the establishment of an international court of arbitration, so that differences arising between nations might be settled in accordance with justice and reason, instead of by appeal to the ordeal of battle.
In a letter to the Secretary of the Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration, in August 1911, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:—
About fifty years ago in the Book of Aqdas, Bahá’u’lláh commanded people to establish universal peace and summoned all the nations to the divine banquet of international arbitration, so that the questions of boundaries, of national honor and property, and of vital interests between nations might be settled by an arbitral court of justice, and that no nation would dare to refuse to abide by the decisions thus arrived at. If any quarrel between two nations it must be adjudicated by this international court and be arbitrated and decided upon like the judgment rendered by the Judge between two individuals. If at any time any nation dares to break such a decision, all the other nations must arise to put down this rebellion.
Again, in one of His Paris talks in 1911, He said:—
A supreme tribunal shall be established by the peoples and governments of every nation, composed of members elected from each country and government. The members of this great council shall assemble in unity. All disputes of an international character shall be submitted to this court, its work being to arrange by arbitration everything which otherwise would be a cause of war. This mission of this tribunal would be to prevent war.
During the quarter of a century preceding the establishment of the League of Nations a permanent Court of Arbitration 169 was established at The Hague (1900), and many arbitration treaties were signed, but most of these fell far short of the comprehensive proposals of Bahá’u’lláh. No arbitration treaty was made between two great Powers in which all matters of dispute were included. Differences affecting “vital interests,” “honor” and “independence” were specifically excepted. Not only so, but effective guarantees that nations would abide by the terms of the treaties into which they had entered were lacking. In the Bahá’í proposals, on the other hand, questions of boundaries, of national honor and of vital interest are expressly included, and agreements will have the supreme guarantee of the World League of Nations behind them. Only when these proposals are completely carried out will international arbitration attain the full scope of its beneficent possibilities and the curse of war be finally banished from the world.