Neutral Conference for Continuous Mediation, Tentative Constitution, March 1916


The Neutral Conference for Continuous Mediation will be composed of delegations from seven neutral nations, viz; Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, and the United States.

From each of these nations, five delegates and five alternate delegates will be chosen.

The different nationalities were requested to make the selection as national and representative as it could be made under the prime necessity for prompt action. Five members of the Neutral Conference and five alternates were elected by the members of the Henry Ford Expedition, the selection being subject to the approval of Mr. Ford.

The Scandinavian and Dutch delegates will be elected in each case by a representative body which has itself been organized by a small arranging committee. The Arranging Committee was invited individually by Mr. Ford, the selection of the members having been determined by their announced sympathy with the proposed plan of the Neutral Conference. The Arranging Committee, in organizing the larger Elective Body, invited larger organizations and important individuals to make suggestions for candidates, both men and women.

On account of the extreme inaccessibility of Switzerland and Spain during war time, it will be necessary that personal representatives of the Henry Ford Expedition visit those [page 2] countries and confer as to the best and quickest method of gaining the five representatives.

Each of the national delegations of five to the Neutral Conference is expected to elect its chairman and secretary out of its own number, and is entitled to employ in addition an Administration Secretary, if desired. The whole Conference will elect a General Secretary.

The Conference should begin work as soon as delegates of at least two neutral nations have arrived at the meeting place. It should elect a temporary Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Secretary. The final election of officers should be made as soon as representatives of five nations are assembled. To act officially in the name of the Conference, at least two members of each of five neutral nations must be in session.

Peace proposals can be submitted to the governments and parliaments of belligerent countries as soon as delegates of at least five nations are in session and are agreed on one or more plans. It is to be observed that it is not necessary to wait until the Conference is unanimous upon a single plan of settlement, nor is it necessary that a minority yield to a majority opinion. If the Conference has difficulty in agreeing upon the terms of the Initial Standing Proposal to the belligerents, several proposals can be put forward at the same time, representing various ideas of sound settlement.

As to the methods of bringing proposals before (1) governments, (2) parliaments, of the belligerent nations, (whether by special envoys to governments, petitions to legislative bodies [page 3] etc.) Madame Schwimmer, as expert appointed by Mr. Ford should be consulted.

International experts to act as advisers on the problems of the present war and other questions vitally connected with the work of the majority of the members of the Neutral Conference or by Mr. Ford or his representative. Among such international experts citizens of -- as far as possible -- every belligerent country, who are recognized as being internationally minded, that is, who have the genuine interest of their country at heart, but who regard that interest in relation to the common interest of the family of nations as a whole, should be invited, for the purpose of giving the national point of view of the belligerent countries. To give information on special problems of the settlement, men or women of belligerent or neutral countries may be invited.

The members of the Neutral Conference, as well as the experts, are during the work the guests of Mr. Henry Ford. Accommodations will be provided and honorariums to defray expenses arising from absence from home and from regular occupations. No individual private secretaries will be provided for, but the general office will have a staff of stenographers ready to do a definitely limited amount of work for individuals.

Members of the Neutral Conference are expected to be in attendance from the beginning to the end of the work. Should a member for any reason be obliged to be absent temporarily or permanently, the invitation for an alternate to fill his place must [page 4] be issued by the national delegation after consultation with Mr. Ford or his representative.

Alternate members, unless especially invited to do so, are not expected to be present during the whole time of the Conference. Their services will be required only during the absence of regular members.

The affairs of the Conference -- such practical matters as are outlined in the above statement -- will be [administered] by perhaps delegated by Mr. Ford.

With regard to the actual work of the Conference -- the preparation and putting forward of proposals for settlement -- the Conference is free within the following limitations, previously determined and accepted by all bodies concerned.

(1) The Conference shall remain in continuous session at least until the opening of the official negotiations.

(2) After preliminary study of the situation and the problems involved, the Conference will begin at once with a draft of a tentative program for peace -- both for the settlement of this war and the prevention of future wars -- and will submit this draft simultaneously to the warring nations through their governments and their parliaments. In case the first program or programs of settlement drafted and agreed upon by the Conference should be unacceptable to the warring powers, then the Conference will seek to modify the propositions contained therein, taking into consideration the suggestions and criticisms of the belligerents, coming back again and again until the negotiations have [proceeded] to the [page 5] point at which the warring factions declare themselves ready to enter into direct negotiations with each other. The work of the Conference is to be facilitated by calling to its assistance experts on international problems from belligerent and neutral countries.

(3) The program of settlement will in no wise be determined by the temporary military advantages that one or the other of the powers may possess, and will have as a basis singly and solely those principles of humanity and justice on which alone a lasting peace can be based. The Initial Standing Proposal or Proposals should constitute a radical effort to set forth the international ideal which was never more nearly within reach than now, when the so-called practical has proved a failure. Some of the essentials of the International ideal have already been formulated in a Resolution adopted by the American and Scandinavian Delegations: We hold that the situation demands the abolition of armaments, by general agreement, in connection with the introducing of an international order of justice, which safeguards the equal right of individuals and people, and permits them to develop under the protection of political, economic, and spiritual freedom.

We note again that should the members of the Conference have difficulty in agreeing upon an Initial Standing Proposal, several proposals can be put forward at the same time, representing various ideas of the radical application of international principles. [page 6]


The members of the Neutral Conference shall constitute committees to consider special problems. For example:

  1. Transfer of territory.
  2. Freedom of the seas.
  3. International disarmament.
  4. Organization of a world government, etc. etc.

The members of committees shall not be elected or appointed, but shall group themselves voluntarily according to their individual interests and equipment. It is not necessary that each nation should be represented on every committee. Any committee, for instance, may be composed entirely of members of one nationality, if such should happen to be the result of a natural method of selection, the chief consideration being the qualifications of the individual member to serve in a special capacity.


Publicity will be handled entirely by the official press bureau of the Neutral Conference. All discussions and proceedings of the Conference will be absolutely private except for material issued officially by the Conference through the press bureau of the Neutral Conference. No member in attendance upon the Conference or holding appointment as an alternate can act as a journalist with respect to the work of the Conference. [page 7] Any member violating the rule of privacy will thereby disqualify himself for membership in the Conference.

In personal interviews members must refrain from any utterances that might tend to prejudice decisions not yet made by the Conference or to anticipate information not yet officially issued by the Neutral Conference through its Press Bureau.