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Owing largely to the mistaken policy of past Liberal Administrations several very difficult situations have been developed with reference to various groups of islands m the Pacific, the most recent of these having led to the Conference about to be held at Berlin with a view to defining the future status of the Famoan Group, and the spheres of influence of England, Germany, and America m relation thereto. Not so long ago there was some reason to fear that this question, small as it is m compasison with those which more nearly concern the Great Powers interested, might have to be settled m a very different arena, where the arguments resorted to are shot and shell, iron-clads, and Maxim guns. Better counsels have, however, prevailed, t and there is every indication that diplo macy will arrive at a satisfactory settlement of the whole matter. And while we are awaiting the discussion of the Berlin Conference, it may not be uninteresting to glance at the mode m which another burning question— that of the New Hebrides — which prior to tbe b'amoan difficulty occupied a great share of attention m the Australian colonies as well as m New Zealand has been adjusted. Volume I. of the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, just to hand, contains the text of the Declaration agreed on between the Governments of Great Britain and France, and signed m Paris on the 26th January, 1888. This consists of three Articles. These are as follows : —

1. A Joint Naval Commission shall be immediately constituted, composed of naval officers belonging to the British and French stations m the Pacific, charged with the duty of maintaining order, and of protecting the lives and property of British and French subjects m the New Hebrides.

2. The said Commission shall be composed of a President and two British and two French naval officers ; the Baid officers to be named by any person having commission for that purpose from the British and French Governments respectively. From the date of the first composition of the Commission the President shall be m alternate months the commanding officer of the British and French naval forces respectively present m the group ; it being decided by lot which of the two officers shall first act as President. The Commission shall assemble at the request of either commanding officer. In the absence of the President for the time being the other commanding officer shall preside, and the Commission shall have power to act if two other members be present, of whom one is British and the other French .

3. The Commission shall carry out its duties m conformity with the regulations annexed to this Declaration, and with any further regulations which may from time to time be agreed upon between the two Governments.

Following are the regulations for the guidance of the Joint Commission referred to m the foregoing : —

1. In the event of a disturbance of peace and good order m any part of the New Hebrides where British or French subjects may be settled, or m case of danger menacing the safety of life or property, the Commission shall forthwith assemble, and take such measures as it may think best under the circumstances for repressing the disturbance or for the protection of the interests endangered, 2. No British or French naval commander shall take independent or isolated action, except as hereinafter mentioned. 3. Military force shall not be reoorted to unless the Commission shall consider its employment to be indispensable. 4 In the event of tbe landing of a payal or military force, such force shall not remain longer than may be considered necessary by i-hp Commission.

5. Where the circumstances may not admit of any delay, and the urgency of the case may call for immediate action before the assembling of the Commission, the British and French commanders nearest the scene of action shall, m concert if possible, or separately if such concert be not practicable, take the neoeßsary measures for the protection of the interests endangered, and shall report such action forthwith to their respective senior naval officers on the station, and await the further orders of the Commission. Each senior naval officer, on receiving such report, shall at once communicate it to the other. 6. The Commission shall have no further or other powers than are expressly delegated to it by these regulations, and shall not interfere m disputes concerning the title to land, or dis- | possess of their lands any persons, natives or foreigners. The joint control of England and France m the New Hebrides, thus provided for, has now been m operation for over a year and appears to have worked well, and there i& therefore every reason to hope that m reference to Samoa, the approaching Conference will be able to arrive at a similarly satisfactory delimitation of the spheres of influence of the Great Powers interested,

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Bibliographic details

THE NEW HEBRIDES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2094, 26 March 1889

Word Count

THE NEW HEBRIDES. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2094, 26 March 1889

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