Minister Beaupré to the Secretary of State.

No. 331.]

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the department’s unnumbered dispatch of the 3d of November last, directing the legation to transmit immediately to the minister for foreign affairs of the Netherlands the printed identic note which was inclosed therewith, and to express to the minister the great interest which our Government takes in the acceptance of the proposals contained in the identic circular note, and to request as early action thereon as the importance of the proposals would permit. In response to this dispatch, I now have the honor to forward to the department herewith copy and translation of the reply of the minister for foreign affairs, under today’s date, to the identic note in question.

I have, etc.,

A. M. Beaupré.
[Page 616]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Minister Beaupré.

Sir: In your letter of the 18th November last your excellency kindly inclosed a circular note containing two proposals on the part of the Government of the United States, one regarding the removal of difficulties of a constitutional nature which prevent the ratification by the above-mentioned Government of the convention for the establishment of an international court of prize, the other looking to the end of investing the international court of prize with the authority of the international court of justice proposed at the second peace conference.

As to the first of these proposals, the Queen’s Government, attaching great importance to the ratification by the United States of the convention for the establishment of an international court of prize, is quite ready to act in agreement with the above-mentioned Government to find a solution of the difficulties. The Government of the United States believes that the desired end will be attained if the powers have the authority to treat the claims before the international court of prize as simple requests for indemnity following capture, and not as appeals from the decisions of the national courts of prize. For this purpose, the Government of the United States proposes to insert a reservation in the act of ratification of the above-mentioned convention.

The Government of the Netherlands, desirous of obtaining the esteemed concurrence of the United States in the convention of London, after a careful examination of the proposal, desires to express the opinion that this procedure would not indicate precisely enough the modifications introduced in the existing provisions of the convention relating to the establishment of an international court of prize. For this reason, the conclusion of an additional convention appears preferable.

The Government of the Queen, therefore, is in accord with the suggestion, expressed by several other powers, of submitting the preparation of an additional convention to a committee composed of representatives of the four powers who assumed the initiative of the court of prize—namely, Germany, the United States, France, and Great Britain.

As to the second proposal of the Government of the United States relating to a court of arbitral justice, the Government of the Queen fears that an attempt to carry into effect this proposal concurrently with the first will cause regrettable delays in the ratification of the prize convention; on the other hand, there appears to be nothing to prevent a preliminary examination of this proposal by the above-mentioned committee, the result of which examination to serve as a basis for an exchange of ulterior views on the question.

Accept, etc.,

R. de Marees van Swinderen.