Newton Wesley ROWELL

ROWELL, The Hon. Newton Wesley, P.C., K.C.

Personal Data

Party
Unionist
Constituency
Durham (Ontario)
Birth Date
November 1, 1867
Deceased Date
November 22, 1941
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton_Rowell
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=a43fcba7-73d8-48ff-b457-5740c40cecab&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
lawyer

Parliamentary Career

December 17, 1917 - May 31, 1921
UNION
  Durham (Ontario)
  • President of the Privy Council (October 12, 1917 - July 9, 1920)
  • Minister presiding over the Department of Health (June 6, 1919 - July 9, 1920)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 611)


April 28, 1921

Mr. ROWELL:

No state need pass it.

No state need come into this court unless it wishes to do so. Action is purely voluntary; states may come in or remain out as they think best. One of the distinguishing characteristics of our British institutions, and of our Anglo-Saxon civilization, is the rule of law governing the relation of citizen to citizen and of citizens to the state. It is the rule of law that ensures us the protection of life and of property and gives strength and stability to the social and political organizations of the country. Statesmen and publicists have urged that we can only secure permanent peace in the world when public right and the rule of law are accepted in international affairs. We cannot have public right and the rule of law in international affairs unless we have a court administering justice in accordance with the principles of international law. For these reasons, without going into details in reference to the provisions of the court, I submit that it marks a very great step in advance and one which this Parliament is wise in taking, not only in the interest of Canada, but in the larger interest of the peaceable settlement of international disputes.

I know there is scepticism abroad. We are told that men have always fought, always will fight, and that it is hopeless to attempt to introduce any new experiments m order to avert the catastrophe of war. Exactly the same argument might have been applied to the original constitution of courts in Great Britain, but if advanced it was not accepted. Justice took the place of the old blood feuds-compulsory jurisdiction was accepted. Men once thought that affairs of honour had to he settled in a manner in which men of honour thought they should be settled. Now all accept the jurisdiction of the courts. One may confidentially anticipate that the nations of the world will in time come to accept the very same principle. There is no derogation from their sovereignty, from their dignity, nor from the interests which each Government is called upon to protect and conserve by doing so. If there are any who are prone to get discouraged in connection with work of this kind, I want to close by quoting the saying of that distinguished French man of affairs, Colbert, who said:

All human endeavour Is subject to disappointment, nevertheless, if honest and competent, it seldom wholly fails, and an undertaking of unexampled scope and unbounded opportunities deserves endeavour of the best.

Therefore, all men who are working for the constitution and the bringing into operation of a court of this kind, are putting forth endeavours that should promote the highest interest of our common humanity. To every man who is pessimistic or cynical, I would say the path of human progress has not been blazed by either pessimists or cynics, bu't by the optimists and idealists, the men who have had vision to see, faith to believe and courage to execute. Such men framed the Covenant of the League of Nations; such men framed the constitution of this court. This House will do well to put itself in line with the optimists rather than with the pessimists, with the people of faith rather than with the unbelievers, in a- great experiment to promote international justice and peace.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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April 28, 1921

Mr. ROWELL:

I am speaking now of

the Covenant of the League of Nations, not of the statute creating this tribunal. Under the covenant every international dispute which cannot be settled by diplomatic means must be referred either to arbitration or to conciliation. If it goes to arbitration, the parties fix their own tribunal it may be the Hague; it may be a tribunal they set up, and that disposes of the matter. But if it is referred to the council, then the council has the right to refer all cases to this court for an advisory opinion. Let me give my hon. friend a very practical illustration. Take the appeal which Germany is now making to the League of Nations against the sanctions imposed, on the ground that they are contrary to the terms of the treaty. While Germany is not now a party to the League, the Covenant of the League contemplates disputes between states members of the league and states not members being brought under the jurisdiction of the league. Special provision is made for that purpose, and apparently Germany accepts that provision. Now, suppose the council took action and Germany accepted the conditions. One of two alternatives must apply to the dispute: either arbitration or conciliation. Under existing conditions one would hardly expect that arbitration would be resorted to by agreement; the alternative is conciliation by the council. If it is a question of the interpretation of the

treaty, the council, one would think, would be very glad to avail themselves of a strong, impartial court to give an advisory opinion as to the proper interpretation of the treaty. It is not difficult to imagine that very important questions or subjects will be referred to the court by the council or the assembly in order that they may secure an advisory opinion. These expressions of opinion do not bind the council; they are simply the opinion of this court on the legal questions involved.

In reference to the importance of such a tribunal, may I quote the opinion of Sir Frederick Pollock who states the case admirably. He says:

The League stands for peace among the nations, assured by justice, but there can be no settled justice without judgment and no judgment without a tribunal.

One of the real hopes for the success of the great experiment of providing a method for the peaceable settlement of international disputes lies in the constitution of such a court.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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April 28, 1921

Mr. ROWELL:

Perhaps my hon. friend has not understood the reference to compulsory jurisdiction. There can be no compulsory jurisdiction on the part of the court unless the states parties to this protocol agree to give it compulsory jurisdiction. That point was made very clear in the report of the commission of jurists who framed this convention. While they recommended compulsory jurisdiction, they pointed out that it could not go into effect unless the various states ratified a convention, and if they ratified the convention and accepted compulsory jurisdiction, then it became a treaty to which they were parties; it was no derogation from their sovereignty. Sovereign and independent states, therefore, could quite consistently join in setting up such a tribunal.

Now, I was simply going to point out certain important conventions or treaties under which this court already has compulsory jurisdiction, in the sense that parties to these conventions have agreed that disputes of a certain character shall go to this court for final determination. This court is the final tribunal for the settlement of disputes under the labour clauses of the Peace Treaty; it is expressly so provided in the labour clauses of the treaty. This court is the final tribunal for dealing with disputes arising under the Ports, Waterways and Railway provisions of the Treaty of Peace. It is the final authority on certain questions arising under the minorities treaties, and also under the mandates. If any dispute arises with reference to the interpretation of the mandates, the final authority is this Permanent Court of International Justice. That is also true of the International Air Convention, of the Arms Traffic Convention, of the Liquor Traffic Convention in Africa, and I think there are several other conventions in which it is expressly provided that where differences of interpretation arise

the matter shall be determined by this Permanent Court of International Justice. There is another aspect of the question to which the Minister of Justice referred and which might properly constitute one of the most important phases of the court's jurisdiction, namely, the provision in the covenant which entitles the council or the assembly to refer any dispute coming before them to the court for an advisory opinion. The members of the committee will appreciate that while this court has not compulsory jurisdiction, as the Minister of Justice has pointed out, all parties to the league have agreed that in case of dispute arising which they are unable to settle by diplomatic means they will refer that dispute either to arbitration or to conciliation by the council. So that every international dispute that arises between members of the league must either go to arbitration or to conciliation by the council.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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April 28, 1921

Mr. ROWELL:

The state does it by its own agreement. If a state agrees that when any dispute arises between that state and another state or group of states the matter shall be referred to a certain tribunal for settlement; that does not involve any greater derogation from sovereignty than would be the case if it were agreed that a particular dispute should be referred to a tribunal for settlement.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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April 28, 1921

Mr. ROWELL:

As I have to leave the committee in a short time I would like to make one or two observations on the Bill before I go. The first is, that I believe the Government was acting in the interests of Canada when it signed the protocol; and that the committee will also be acting in the interests of the country if they approve this Bill and authorize the Government to proceed with the necessary steps to ratify the protocol.

It is not my intention to enter into a discussion of the general provisions of the statute, that subject having been so fully and admirably covered by the Minister of Justice; but I wish to point out in view of the present discouraging aspect of the international situation that the progress which has been made in the settlement of international disputes by arbitration and by judicial means in the past twenty or thirty years is one of the most encouraging and hopeful signs in the world outlook. It is difficult to realize as Mr. Root pointed out in an address a few months ago before the New York Bar Association when discussing the constitution of this court-that as recently as 1899 the idea of arbitration of a more or less judicial character as a general method of settling international disputes was laughed at. He pointed out that at that time the idea of arbitration as embodied in the decision of the first Hague conference was put in to save the face of the Czar who had called the conference for the purpose of furthering a scheme of world-wide disarmament. The representatives of the powers found themselves unable to attain any measure of agreement on the subject matter before the conference, and in recognition of the Czar's action they agreed on a form of international arbitra-

tion, which was embodied in the first Hague convention. It is one of the most remarkable and interesting chapters in international history that from that situation in 1899 we have now reached the point where a body of representative jurists, among the ablest in the world, have framed the constitution of a permanent court and that that constitution has been approved by a majority of the nations of the world. That is a very great step forward.

Another encouraging feature in connection with this particular matter is that whatever the attitude of the United States may he finally on the question of the League, there is every ground to believe the United States will co-operate in the work of this international court. In the address of Mr. Root to which I referred, he suggests that the New York Bar Association is entitled-and I think properly entitled-to some

measure of credit for incorporation in the Covenant of the league of the provision for the setting up of this court. There is no doubt that the New York Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and other bodies of jurists in the United States have been for years pressing for the constitution of a court of this kind; and in the inaugural address of the President, as I now recall it, he strongly supported the idea of such a court.

I want to express my concurrence with the view presented by the Minister of Justice on the question of compulsory jurisdiction. I am sure we all hope the time will come when full compulsory jurisdiction may he given this international court. That time has not yet arrived, as the right hon. gentleman explained, but the fact is the court has a substantial measure of compulsory jurisdiction at the present time-a larger compulsory jurisdiction than I think is generally recognized

that is, the compulsory jurisdiction growing out of provisions in various treaties and conventions that disputes shall be submitted to it for determination. I am going to enumerate four or five of those to indicate the measure of compulsory jurisdiction which the court already possesses.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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