File No. 711.38/71

The Minister of Haiti to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honor to inform your excellency that my Government has vested me with special authority to proceed with the exchange of ratifications of the Convention of September 16, 1915, and has forwarded to me to that effect:

The instrument of ratification of the convention by the President of Haiti.2
A certified copy of the convention;3
A certified copy of the decree of the Legislative Body of Haiti sanctioning the ratification of the convention by the President;4 and
A copy of the interpretative commentary of the committee of the Chamber of Deputies referred to in the decree.5

I am therefore at your excellency’s disposal regarding the said exchange of ratifications.

Be pleased to accept [etc.]

Solon Ménos
[Inclosure 1—Translation]

Ratification by the President

Regarding as acceptable the convention signed on September 16, 1915, between the Government of Haiti and that of the United States of America, represented by Mr. Louis Borno, Secretary of State for Foreign Relations, and Mr. Robert Beale Davis, Jr., Chargé d Affaires, respectively.

We hereby declare our approval, ratification and confirmation of the said convention and promise and cause it to be executed and observed according to its form and tenor without permitting any contravention thereof.

In faith whereof, we have signed with our own hand the present ratification and caused the seal of the Republic to be affixed thereto.


By the President:
Louis Borno,
Secretary of State for Foreign Relations

[Page 323]
[Inclosure 2—Translation]

Sanction by the Legislative Body

The Legislative Body, in the exercise of the power conferred upon it by Article 101 of the Constitution—

Upon examination of the Convention concluded between the United States of America and the Republic of Haiti, drawn up on September 16, 1915, which was ratified by the President of Haiti on September 17, 1915; and on the strength of the report dated September 29, 1915, of the special committee of the Chamber of Representatives charged with the examination of the said convention, the conclusions of the said report resting on the interpretative commentary which serves as a motive of the said convention—

Decrees the sanction of the said convention to go into full and entire effect.

A. André
President of the Chamber

J. N. Cheron, Lud Leroy

[Inclosure 3—Translation]

Interpretative Commentary.—Annex to the Convention of September 16, 1915, between Haiti and the United States.

article i

1. The aid “will aid” of the United States under consideration is a formal engagement made by that Government. It is not optional but obligatory. Else there would be no occasion for the convention.

2. By good offices “bons offices,” the convention means that the Government of the United States will use the influence it commands to give us active assistance. It will, for instance, facilitate in the American market such loans as may be needed; it will use its influence in developing our agricultural, mining and commercial resources.

3. The American Government does not propose to appropriate to itself a monopoly of mining operations. The companies owning regular concessions will hold them.

The good offices of the American Government will place the Republic of Haiti in a situation which will win the confidence of capitalists. The Haitian Government will be able to consolidate its debts by means of an advantageous loan, the Government of the United States affording by the institution of a receivership that will insure the service of the loan a positive guarantee that our engagements will be carried out.

article ii

4. The Receiver General personifies the cooperation of the Government of the United States. He is nommé “appointed” by the President of Haiti on the proposition “nomination” of the President of the United States. In the American administrative vernacular “nomination” is translated into French by “proposition”.

5. Does the President of Haiti hold the power to reject nominees of the President of the United States or even to dismiss them?

In the intention of the contracting parties, he may not do so ad mutum, “at will”. Those officials come under a contract; their situation must be considered in that special light.

If the Receiver General, in charge of the Receivership, should draw upon himself dismissal because of malfeasance in office, it is obvious that the President of the United States could not but concur. The delinquent could even be amenable to an action at law. The police laws are binding on all who live within the territory of the Republic.

6. The customs force is Haitian and exclusively and directly appointed by the President of Haiti.

[Page 324]

The “aides et employés” provided by Article 2 are auxiliaries of the Receiver; they do not compose the customs force. They are delegated to the customhouses by the Receivership and supervise the customs transactions. At the Receiver’s office they collect, receive and apply the customs duties. They apply (“apply,” make payments to) in the form and manner indicated and set forth in Article 5 of the convention.

7. The Financial Adviser is no longer here the comptroller placed above the Executive and Legislative Powers. He is nothing but an official attached to the Ministry of Finance where he collaborates with his work and advice.

8. The Financial Adviser in no wise supersedes the Chambre des Comptes (Board of Auditors).

The Financial Adviser’s work is special, technical; he is an expert, as it were. He enlightens the two Governments. His part, as stated in Article 2, consists in “elaborating an adequate system of public accounting, promoting an increase of revenues, etc.”

As is seen the duties of the Chambre des Comptes and of the Financial Adviser bear on two different absolutely distinct lines. The Adviser does not apply, he confines himself to pointing out, enlightening, recommending, suggesting, prompting. Whatever in his system is at variance with the Constitutional law will not be adopted.

9. As for the nationality of the officials, Receiver General and Financial Adviser, there is no absolute stipulation in the text in that respect.

10. What becomes of the Banque Nationale de la République d’ Haiti whose establishment was unofficially opposed with such foresight by the Government of the United States?

This question is now the subject of an exchange of views between the Government of the United States, the Embassy of France at Washington and the Bank’s management. The latter does not object to the convention. The dispute between the Government and the Bank will be adjusted by our Commissioners in Washington, with good offices of the American Government which good offices will always be of advantage to us in our various difficulties with the foreign legations.

article iii

11. This article substitutes a Receivership for the Banque Nationale de la République d’ Haiti.

Taxes not collected by the Receiver remain out of the scope of the convention; they constitute a special fund of the Haitian Government. This leaves a department to be created unless we should intrust the Receivership itself with that service.

That special fund, different from that of the Receivership, will receive from the Receiver General the balance referred to in Article 5 for current expenses and the payment of salaries.

article vi

12. The 5% stands for a maximum that cannot be exceeded, but the disbursements provided by this article may be kept below 5%.

The Receivership in fact will draw up yearly an estimate of salaries that is to be determined by “previous agreement” with the Government, as is said in Article 5.

This shows that there is no question of a lump sum drawn without the Haitian Government’s supervision.

article ix

13. The clause in this article does not at all stand in the way of a gradual reduction or even the removal of our customs duties subject however to the condition that our increased resources will permit of so doing. It merely provides that we relinquish the right to impair our creditors’ securities.

On the contrary the American Legation gives the assurance that its Government will in the future concur in any reduction of tariff rates that will not infringe the treaty rights.

[Page 325]

article xiii

14. There is nothing positive in the text as to the nationality of the engineers. The President of the United States proposes “nominates” but it is the President of Haiti who appoints. What matters is to have competent men.

article xvi

15. The renewal of the treaty is no longer left to the discretion of one of the two Governments. A discussion, should occasion arise, will be opened at the end of the tenth year between the two contracting parties to weigh the value of the “precise reasons formulated by either party” in case “the views and objects of the convention should not be fulfilled” (if for specific reasons presented by either of the high contracting parties, the purpose of the treaty has not been fully accomplished.)

16. What is the jurisdiction competent to pass upon possible disputes arising about the execution of the treaty?

Although the convention is silent on this point, the Arbitral Tribunal of the Hague is that previously agreed upon by Haiti and the United States of America.

17. Which of the two texts would prevail in case of a difference in the interpretation of one?

When two texts in different languages, as in this case are brought forth together, they are equivalent, the one elucidates the other, as a rule. But certain divergences may arise in interpreting this or that phase and it is then of absolute importance that one of the two texts should prevail. It was to prepare for this that the contracting parties adopted the English text.

  1. Inclosure 1.
  2. Printed p. 328, post.
  3. Inclosure 2.
  4. Inclosure 3.