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Blame or Return Napoleon.

October 27th, 2017 in News by emily

Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to the Duke of Wellington, this national disaster for France was, though not necessary for his removal from his role as ruler of France and the scourge of Europe. That was guaranteed anyway by the contingents of the Prussian and Russian armies in unprecedented numbers that were gathering to bring about the Emperors downfall come what may.

With the downfall of the Emperor came the peace that lasted across Europe for almost 55 years and was then only broken as another Napoleon was again removed from power, this time by the Prussians.

The peace that existed across Europe during those 55 years was brought about by the negotiations that took place during the talks at the Congress of Vienna. The congress set the foundations of the European map as known today, with the creation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (soon breaking up into Holland and Belgium). It also developed the goal of free trade and the unfettered transportation of goods across the continent.

This remarkable construct allowed for disputes between nations to be arbitrated between signatory nations and resolutions of compromise to be found. The Congress further set up the first transnational agreement to administer any river or waterway. This compact was for the development of freedom of navigation along the length of the River Rhine. This agreement still governs the principals of the Rhine navigation today.

The Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine (CCNR) (French: Commission Centrale pour la Navigation du Rhin) is an international organisation whose function is to encourage European prosperity by guaranteeing a high level of security for navigation of the Rhine and its catchment.

Legally, the Commission’s authority comes from agreements made at the Congress of Vienna, held in 1815. The first meeting took place on 15 August 1816 in Mainz. In 1831, the Convention of Mainz was adopted, establishing a number of the first laws governing Rhine navigation. In 1861, the commission’s seat was moved to Mannheim, and on 17 October 1868, the Convention of Mannheim was agreed.

Prior to the Convention, two agreements that were fundamental features of the organisation and which it has inherited directly took place:

  • the creation of an international river organisation,
  • Establishment of the principle of the freedom of navigation.

The Treaty of 15 October 1804 governing the “octroi” or toll levied for using the Rhine, concluded by the French Empire and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in performance of the General Rescript of 25 February 1803 by the Empire’s deputation and abolishing the various tolls in existence on the Rhine in favour of the institution of a Rhine toll, created in Mainz. A first international administration with responsibility for centralising the tolls levied on vessels using the Rhine so that these could be used to improve navigability and the state of the towpaths. The organisation also had the function of settling disputes arising out of the prescription of the “octrois”.

The Treaty of Paris of 30 May 1814 laid down the principle of the freedom of navigation on the major international rivers of Europe.

1815-1831

Appendix 16 B of 24 March 1815 of the Final Document of the Congress of Vienna created the Central Commission. Its members were representatives of the States bordering the Rhine, and its headquarters were in Mainz (the Commission inherited the administration created by the Treaty governing the “octroi” for using the Rhine).

This text confirms the principle of the freedom of navigation on the Rhine and makes the Central Commission responsible for drawing up a convention specifically intended to implement this principle. The work took fifteen years, eventually resulting in the Mainz Convention of 31 March 1831.

Author: emily

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