File No. 811.203/25

The Secretary of State to the Belgian Minister ( De Cartier )

No. 81

Sir: Referring to your note of May 6, 1918,1 in which you communicate to me the desire of your Government to effect an arrangement between the United States and Belgium on the subject of penal jurisdiction over the military and naval forces of each country within the jurisdiction of the other, I have the honor to inform you that I am authorized by the President as Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States, to propose to you an arrangement by an exchange of notes as follows:

The Government of the United States of America and the Government of His Majesty the King of the Belgians recognize during the present war the exclusive jurisdiction of the tribunals of their respective land and sea forces with regard to persons subject to the jurisdiction of those forces whatever be the territory in which they operate or the nationality of the accused. In the case of offences committed jointly or in complicity with persons subject to the jurisdiction of the said military forces, the principals and accessories who are amenable to the American land and sea forces shall be handed over for trial to the American military or naval justice, and the principals and accessories who are amenable to the Belgian land and sea forces shall be handed over for trial to the Belgian military or naval justice.

[Page 748]

The Government of the United States of America and the Government of His Majesty the King of the Belgians further recognize during the present war the exclusive jurisdiction within American territory of American justice over persons not belonging to the Belgian land and sea forces who may commit acts prejudicial to the said military forces and the exclusive jurisdiction, within Belgian territory, of Belgian justice over persons not belonging to American land and sea forces who may commit acts prejudicial to the said military forces.

The word “persons” as used in the first paragraph of this agreement designates, together with the persons enrolled in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, any other person who under the American or Belgian law is subject to military or naval jurisdiction, especially members of the Red Cross regularly accepted by the Government of the United States of America or the Government of His Majesty the King of the Belgians in so far as the American or Belgian law and the customs of war place them under military or naval jurisdiction.

Should this arrangement be acceptable to the Government of His Majesty the King of the Belgians your formal notification in writing to that effect will be understood on the part of the Government of the United States of America as completing the arrangement and putting it into force and effect, and I shall be glad to receive your assurance that it will be so understood also on the part of the Government of His Majesty the King of the Belgians.

Accept [etc.]

Robert Lansing
  1. Not printed.