Neutral Rights and Obligations in the Anglo-Boer War eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 168 pages of information about Neutral Rights and Obligations in the Anglo-Boer War.
of war to be sent through Beira to the English hinterland.  The Portuguese Government cannot refuse the demand and must fulfill a convention depending on reciprocity, a convention which was settled long before the present state of war had been foreseen.  This agreement cannot be regarded as a superfluous support of one of the belligerent parties or as a violation of the duties imposed by neutrality or indeed of the good friendly relations which the Portuguese Government always wishes to keep up with the Government of the South African Republic."[40] The fact that the assent of the Portuguese Government was obtained only after ten weeks of pressure brought to bear upon the Lisbon authorities would seem to indicate that intrigue is more potent in international relations than accepted precedent.

[Footnote 40:  Times Military History of the War in South Africa, Vol.  IV, p. 366, note.]

In its reply to the Portuguese dispatch the Transvaal reasonably protested that the treaty in question had not been made public and that no notice of it had been received by the Republic at the outbreak of war.[41] It was pointed out that this being the case the treaty could not be applied even if it granted the right contended for by England.  And even stronger was the Transvaal argument that in no case after war had begun could such a treaty be applied by a neutral State to the disadvantage of third parties.  The fact of neutrality had suspended the working of the agreement.  The action of Portugal, it was justly alleged, put her in the position of an enemy instead of a neutral.

[Footnote 41:  Ibid., p. 367, note.]

The Transvaal contention would appear to be fully warranted.  In the light of modern international law the action of England in sending troops through neutral Portuguese territory against a nation at peace with Portugal was based upon a flagrant misreading of a purely commercial treaty.  The action of the Portuguese Government in allowing this to be accomplished was a gross breach of the duties incumbent upon a neutral State in time of war.



During the war the question of blockade could not arise for the reason that neither the Transvaal nor the Orange Free State possessed a seaport.  Lorenzo Marques being a neutral Portuguese possession could not be blockaded by the English.  General Buller, commanding the British land forces in South Africa, had indeed urged that such a declaration be made, but it was realized by Great Britain that such a step was not possible under the laws of war.[1] More stringent measures, however, were taken to prevent the smuggling of contraband through Delagoa Bay, a transaction which the English alleged was an everyday occurrence.  A number of neutral merchantmen bound for this port were seized, but the difficulty experienced by England was her inability to prove that the goods on board were really intended for the enemy, or that the men shown as passengers were actually proceeding to the Transvaal as recruits for the Boer forces in the field.

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Neutral Rights and Obligations in the Anglo-Boer War from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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