Memorandum by the Secretary of State on the Privilege of Becoming an Adherent to the Treaty When Not a Signatory Nation26

It seems to me that it is especially desirable for the success of the League of Nations that every independent state in the world should become a member and share in the burdens and assume the responsibilities which membership imposes.

In order to bring this about the means of becoming a member by a nation which is not a signatory ought to be made easy. That is the authority should be given for a government to deposit with the Secretariat of the International Council an instrument of adherence accompanied by approving declarations of the act formally issued by at least three members of the League. Every member of the League should be forthwith notified of the act and if, within thirty days after notification, a member of the League has not filed a protest to the adherence, the nation filing the instrument of adherence shall be notified that it is a member of the League and shall become subject to all the provisions of the Treaty as fully as a signatory power.

In the event that a member of the League protests against the adherence of an applicant nation, then the matter of admission to the League shall remain in abeyance pending favorable action by a three-fourths vote of the International Council.

To further safeguard the League from the admission of unstable and therefore undesirable members it might be provided that the instrument of adherence of no government shall be received unless at least ten members of the League have diplomatic relations with it or have formally recognized it as the de jure government of the nation seeking membership. Such a provision would prevent belligerent governments from attempting adherence and avoid premature application by revolutionary or provisional governments.

The benefits obtained by the provisions of the Treaty, namely, the protective covenant of sovereign rights, the interposition of the International Council, the recourse to the Arbitral Tribunal, etc., should [Page 532] be limited to members of the League. If provisions are inserted in the Treaty which directly or indirectly confer any of these benefits on a nation which is not a member of the League, even though the denial of the benefit might disturb the peace of the world, a nation would be in a more advantageous position by remaining outside the League, for it would in no way be bound to observe the self-denying provisions of the treaty. In a word, a non-member would possess the privileges and assume none of the obligations.

To make the League universal the policy should be—No benefit without the responsibilities.

[Additional papers concerning proposals for a League of Nations, beginning with President Wilson’s so-called “First Paris Draft” of January 10, 1919, will be found in subsequent volumes.]

  1. Reprinted from Miller, My Diary, vol. iii, pp. 127–128.

    It is stated ibid., vol. i, p. 66, note b, that “Another paper which I suppose was handed with Mr. Lansing’s memorandum to the President was entitled ‘Memorandum on the Privilege of becoming an Adherent of the Treaty when not a Signatory Nation.’”