In the fall of 1697, the great powers of Europe signed a series of peace treaties at Rijswijk [Ryswick], near The Hague, which ended the Nine Years’ War (1688–1697), in which France was opposed by a great coalition of the Holy Roman Emperor, Britain, the Dutch Republic, and Spain. In its first article, the peace treaty between Britain and France, signed on 20 September 1697 (21 CTS 409), stated that, henceforth, there would be ‘universal and perpetual peace’
On 10 August 1678, France and the Republic of the United Provinces of the Northern Netherlands signed a peace treaty at Nijmegen [Nimeguen]. The treaty, which was one of several between the members of opposing coalitions, ended the war which had started with the nearly successful surprise attack by the French King Louis XIV (1638–1715) on the Dutch Republic in 1672.
In early November 2015, the Belgian and Dutch press announced that a small land swap was in the making between Belgium and the Netherlands. Agreement has been reached at the local level that Belgium would cede a small peninsula in the river Maas [Meuse] of about 14 hectares – the size of 28 soccer fields – to the Netherlands. In return, Belgium would get a smaller piece of Dutch territory where it had already built a water lock.
In April 1822, sailors from the British warships HMS Iphigenia and HMS Myrmidon, after a brief but fierce fight, captured two Spanish and three French slave ships off the coast of what is now Nigeria. Prize crews sailed the ships to Freetown in Sierra Leone, where the international mixed commission which was competent to hear cases regarding the slave trade decided to liberate the slaves found on the Spanish schooners, as well as those slaves found on a Portuguese ship which the British naval vessels had taken earlier.
The centenary of the Great War in 2014 has generated impressive public as well as scholarly attention. It has all but overshadowed some other major anniversaries in the history of international relations and law, such as the quarter-centenary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) or the bicentenary of the Vienna Congress (1814–1815).
The years 2013 and 2014 mark the tercentenary of the peace settlement that put an end to one of the major and most devastating wars in early-modern European history, the War of the Spanish Succession (1700–1713/1714). The war erupted after the death without issue of the last Habsburg king of Spain, Charles II (1665–1700). Charles’s death triggered a violent conflagration of the European diplomatic system, which the major rulers of Europe had anticipated with dread but had proven incapable of averting.
In the Preface to volume 1 of The Consolidated Treaty Series, Clive Parry explained that his collection purported to make the historical treaties antedating the League of Nations Treaty Series available to the modern reader. By this, the date ad quem, 1919, of his work was made self-explanatory. To justify his choice of the date post quem, 1648, he succinctly stated that this was ‘classically regarded as the date of the foundation of the modern system of States’.
From their remotest origins, treaties have fulfilled numerous different functions. Their contents are as diverse as the substance of human contacts across borders themselves. From pre-classical Antiquity to the present, they have not only been used to govern relations between governments, but also to regulate the position of foreigners or to organise relations between citizens of different polities.