The Swiss delegates protested that this article would permit the establishment of many foreign airships in one nation without the supervision of their own, and then drew attention to a suggestion already made by them that no nationality be attributed to airships, but that each airship be compelled to acknowledge a " certain port of register or domicile." This system, the Swiss believe, " offers, from the point of view of the safety of States, guarantees very superior to those secured by the system of owner's nationality." But the Swiss proposal was rejected.
Fully as important as these considerations are the rights of neutral air-craft in time of war. If France and Russia are at war, has Germany the right to prevent the vessels of either nation from crossing her boundaries because her neutrality is violated? The right of exclusion is absolute, if no neutral zone be agreed upon internationally. But if a free zone be agreed upon, the aerial equivalent of the maritime three-mile limit, have belligerents the right to engage in battle over neutral territory with a possibility of injuring those below? There is such a force as gravitation and with that force airships and aeroplanes must constantly reckon.
Will the air-craft that seeks refuge on neutral ground or in neutral air be compelled to leave within a stipulated time, as in the case of a warship that seeks refuge in a neutral harbor? Will an air-craft so badly injured that it cannot leave, even when ordered to do so, be disarmed?
The military reports of the question were discussed at the International Conference of 1910, but more with regard to the status of air-craft in time of peace than in time of war. The departing or landing of military airships of one state in the territory of another was prohibited, unless with the authorization of the state whose territory is involved; - while each contracting state was at liberty to prohibit or regulate in accordance with its interests the passage over its territories of military airships belonging to other contracting states. A clause in the Convention relating to the extraterritoriality of military airships and their crews while within the limits of jurisdiction of a foreign state, appears not to have met with the full approval of the delegates of several Powers, Great Britain and Austria being among those who reserved their adhesion. The Convention stipulated that nothing it contained should interfere with the liberty of action of belligerents or with the rights and duties of neutrals. As bearing on this point, it is of interest that all the participating nations agreed that the aerial transport of explosives, firearms, ammunition, and carrier-birds must be forbidden.