Note on the Agreement for an Association of Nations

The annexed tentative draft of an agreement for an Association of Nations4 makes no mention of the following matters, which are to be separately considered:

Open Diplomacy.
Economic Equality.
Freedom of the Seas.

The statement as to limitation of armaments (Article 6) is hardly more than an announcement of principle.

The provision for legislation in international law (Article 19) gives to the Representatives of the Powers authority only ad referendum.

Guarantees of territorial integrity and political independence are formulated in Article 5.

The chief difficulties in connection with the subjects of the annexed tentative draft for an Association of Nations are:

Its membership.
The voting strength of the Powers.
Its powers in adjusting disputes.
The sanctions or means of enforcement of the decisions reached.

These will be considered in order.

The question of which will be the signatory Powers in the first instance requires of course the unanimous consent of those Powers which do sign, for no Power can be constrained to sign.

As to Powers subsequently becoming members, the provision (Article 20) permits any four Powers to exclude a proposed member but does not require affirmative assent for admission but affirmative dissent for exclusion.

No attempt is made to distinguish between the voting strength of the various member Powers.

As to the settlement of disputes between member Powers, the Power Of Decision in its last analysis is lodged (Article 9) with three-fourths [Page 510] of the Representatives of the Powers, and in the case of a dispute with an outside Power (Article 15) the power to prescribe a course of action is lodged with the majority of the Representatives of the Powers.

Chiefly with a view of not permitting stale claims, Article 16 permits the reservation of existing disputes.

A judicial decision of disputes by a limited number of judges is permitted by Articles 17 and 18, in cases submitted by consent.

The sanctions for the decision of disputes between member Powers (Article 11) are the cessation of all intercourse, whereas by Article 15 a member Power is to be supported in a dispute with a non-member Power, which the Power last-named will not settle amicably.

Power to make necessary decisions during the pendency of a dispute between member Powers is given to a majority of the Representatives of the Powers by Article 10.

A vital point in the scheme is contained in Article 21, which by giving a general and unlimited right of withdrawal gives the most practical form of protection to every great Power against any action or threatened action of any group of other Powers.

The effect of any such Agreement on the Monroe Doctrine and on the relations of the United States with Latin American Powers, is suggested for consideration.

  1. Supra.