Slade's Battle to Change the Laws of War at Sea
This chapter focuses on the Second International Peace Conference at The Hague in 1907 and the London Maritime Conference of 1909. While both of these conferences were intended ostensibly to ameliorate the brutality of modern conflict by codifying the laws of war, serendipitously they also provided the British government with an exceptional opportunity to neutralize the threat from German liners. If the delegates from the assembled countries could be persuaded to limit the right of converting merchantmen into men-of-war, Germany's ability to use this weapon would be circumscribed. Consequently, at the instigation of Admiral Slade, the Admiralty mounted a sustained campaign at both conferences for major restrictions on the laws governing the conversion of merchantmen into warships on the high seas. Unsurprisingly, these proposals encountered fierce resistance from the German delegates and ultimately failed. Nevertheless, this was not for want of trying.
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