Paris Peace Conf. 180.03601/2

Meeting Held by the Representatives of the Powers With Special Interests on Monday, March 3, 19191

Minute No. 2 *

The Session opened at 3.30 p.m., with Mr. Jules Cambon, French Delegate, in the Chair.

  • Present
    • For Belgium
      • Mr. van den Heuvel.
    • For Bolivia:
      • Mr. Ismael Montes.
    • For Brazil:
      • Mr. Epitacio Pessõa.
      • Mr. Olyntho de Magalhaes.
      • Mr. Pandia Calogeras.
    • For China:
      • Mr. Sao-Ke Alfred Sze.
      • Mr. Suntchou Wei.
    • For Cuba:
      • Mr. Rafael Martinez Ortiz.
    • For Ecuador:
      • Mr. Dorn y de Alsua.
    • For Greece:
      • Mr. Nicolas Politis.
    • For Haiti:
      • Mr. Tertullien Guilbaud.
    • For the Hedjaz:
      • Mr. Rustem Haidar.
    • For Liberia:
      • Mr. C. Dunbar.
    • For Panama:
      • Mr. Antonio Burgos.
    • For Poland:
      • Mr. Roman Dmowski.
      • Dr. Casimir Dluski.
    • For Pobtugal:
      • Dr. Egas Moniz.
      • Dr. Antonio Bettencourt-Rodriguez.
    • For Roumania:
      • General Constantin Coanda.
      • Mr. Constantin Diamandy.
    • For Serbia:
      • Mr. Pachitch.
      • Mr. Vesnitch.
      • Mr. Stoyanovitch.
    • For Siam:
      • Prince Traidos Prabandhu.
      • Phya Bibadh Kosha.
    • For the Czecho-Slovak Republic:
      • Mr. Edouard Benes.
[Page 457]

The President explained that the purpose of the meeting was the nomination by the Representatives of the Powers with special interests of five members for the Financial Commission and five for the Economic Commission. He reminded the meeting of the precedent established for the appointment of Delegates of Powers with special interests to other Commissions and proposed that the Session should be adjourned in order to admit of an exchange of views between the members of the Assembly before a vote was taken.

Mr. Epitacio Pessoa (Brazil) stated that before complying with the invitation which had been addressed to them the Representatives of the Powers with special interests had held an informal meeting for the purpose of agreeing in advance on the choice of their Delegates, but that nothing had resulted from that meeting. In view of the number of States with special interests, of the importance, the weight and the complexity of their interests, it had been recognised that the only solution acceptable to the interested Powers was to request an increase in the number of their Representatives on the Financial and Economic Commissions.

The Brazilian Delegate read the following resolution, which had been unanimously adopted at the informal meeting:—

“The Powers with special interests assembled under the presidency of Mr. Cambon have the honour to present the following request:—

“They have tried to make a selection of Delegates for the five seats reserved to them on the Financial and Economic Commissions, but, in view of the extreme diversity and vital importance for each one of them of the questions referred to these two Commissions, and having regard to the fact that, for the safeguarding of their interest, the extra-European Powers seriously affected by the war request that they should be allowed legitimate representation concurrently with the European Powers, the said Powers, who are deeply involved both in respect of their financial and economic existence, were unanimous in considering that it was impossible to satisfy the just requirements of their situation if the number of Delegates reserved to them were not raised to ten for each of the two Commissions.

“They are convinced that the increase in the number of Delegates will not prolong to any regrettable extent the duration of the discussions, but will, on the contrary, enable a fuller and more equitable examination of the essential problems at stake to be undertaken. The undersigned Representatives of the Powers with special interests, therefore, have the honour to beg the President, Mr. Cambon, to bring this decision to the knowledge of His Excellency the President of the Conference, and to adjourn the election of Delegates to the above-mentioned Commissions until the Bureau has studied and taken into consideration this vote.”

The President remarked that the resolution bore a close resemblance to the resolutions put forward at a previous meeting, when it was likewise found that the number of Delegates granted to the Representatives [Page 458] of the Powers with special interests was insufficient. He reminded the meeting that the Representatives of the Powers with special interests, after having given a definite vote which, by appointing five Delegates to the Commissions, constituted a reply to the request which had been laid before the Assembly, had forwarded a wish recommending to the Supreme Allied Council an increase in the representation of their Delegates on Commissions by adding to the five Delegates who had been actually appointed those of the Powers which had received the greatest number of votes after the Powers which were actually represented.

The President proposed that the same procedure should be followed: five Delegates could be designated for each of the two Commissions and a wish expressed that the representation of Powers with special interests on those Commissions should be more numerous and that the Delegates which those Powers desired to have admitted to the Commissions should be thereupon designated.

This method of procedure would possess the advantage of not hindering the urgent labours of the Conference and of giving satisfaction to the interests which the wish that they were to express would have in view.

The Report drawn up on behalf of the Economic Commission explained that it would be desirable for that Commission to form Sub-Commissions to which States not possessing a seat on the Commission would be summoned.2 The Commission would, furthermore necessarily summon the Representatives of Powers which had not been allotted Delegates on that Commission.

This proposal, combined with the use of the procedure employed at the first meeting, was calculated to give complete satisfaction to the desire of the Powers to have their interests defended on the Economic and Financial Commissions.

Mr. Epitacio Pessoa (Brazil) requested that a vote should be taken on the resolution which he had put forward, and remarked that it had only been adopted by the Representatives of the Powers with special interests, after deep reflection and a patient investigation of the question. The delay which would ensue from the adoption of this resolution would not be a serious one, and it would be incumbent on the Representatives of the Great Powers to judge whether that delay could be harmful to the labours of the Conference and whether the request of the Powers with special interests could be taken into consideration.

The President urged the adoption of the proposal which he had made to the Assembly, and thereupon Mr. Romanos (Greece) proposed [Page 459] that such Powers as had no official Representative on the two Commissions should be permitted to follow their proceedings, the precedent created on the occasion of the appointment of Delegates to other Commissions being thus observed. It would, he said, be enough to state that, in addition to the members elected by the Meeting of States with special interests, each one of those States could have a Representative to follow the proceedings of the Commissions, but without the right to vote.

Mr. van den Heuvel (Belgium) admitted that the system suggested by the President might give partial satisfaction to the Powers with special interests, but only on condition that each Delegation was kept informed of what happened on the Commissions. The Delegate for Greece had brought forward proposals which might lead to an agreement, but it would still be necessary to know what the needful arrangements were.

The Powers with special interests desired that the respective position of each one so far as concerned the defence of its rights should forthwith be clearly established.

The Representatives of all the Powers had a serious responsibility towards their respective nations for the defence of the interests which they represented. It was their duty to perform their task with precision and to keep watch over everything that was said and done in order that certain details which might, in perfect good faith, be left out by persons unacquainted with their special situation, might not be neglected.

The President expressed his adhesion to the proposal of the Delegate for Greece as it appeared to give satisfaction to all the different interests; the Assembly would designate the Delegates which it was invited to appoint and would at the same time express a desire that all members with interests to defend might take part in the labours of the Commissions.

Mr. Benes (Czecho-Slovak Republic) did not oppose the proposal of the President but, in view of the fact that the Representatives of Powers with special interests found themselves unable to reduce below the number of ten the members to be appointed to each Commission, he wished the President in the first place to set before the Great Powers the difficulty which the members of the Assembly had encountered.

The President laid stress on the absolute necessity of having Commissions which comprised a limited number of members; that was the only way of ensuring useful and rapid work. By adopting the mode of procedure suggested by the Delegate for Greece, limited Commissions might be formed so far as possible while the door would be left open for such of the Delegates as had not been appointed to enable them to follow closely the labours of the Commissions.

[Page 460]

Mr. Dorn y de Alsua (Ecuador) suggested that the members of the Conference should be kept informed of the labours of all the Commissions, and expressed the hope that the proofs of the Minutes of Commissions might be communicated to the Conference.

Mr. Dmowski (Poland) did not consider that the selection proposed by the President was possible. He therefore suggested that the list which had been prepared should be adopted in its entirety, and that the Council of the Great Powers should be left to choose the names, if it was unable to accept ten representatives from the Powers with special interests, both on the Economic and on the Financial Commission.

Mr. Politis (Greece) said that he was in favour of the proposal of the Polish Delegate, but with a slight amendment. He would accept the procedure adopted for former appointments to Commissions. They would proceed immediately to designate five Delegates for each of the two Commissions and would draw up a supplementary list in order that, if the wish to be expressed by the Assembly were accepted by the Council of the Great Powers, the five additional Delegates might take their seats beside the others.

Mr. van den Heuvel (Belgium) considered it desirable to attach to the wish which it was proposed to express the list drawn up by the Representatives of the Powers with special interests, which would confirm the necessity felt by those Powers of having at least ten Delegates on each Commission.

Mr. Vesnitch (Serbia) held the view that the Assembly should elect ten members for each Commission but should leave to the Supreme Allied Council the task of itself making the choice, if it found the number of ten Delegates too large. He hoped, however, that the Great Powers would allow themselves to be convinced that the economic and financial questions up for discussion were of interest to all countries, even to a greater degree than questions of ports, railways and territorial settlements.

Moreover, the Delegates of Latin America had yielded their places on former Commissions to the Representatives of the European nations which had major interests. On this occasion, however, the nations of America had an equal interest and they were, moreover, more numerous; it was therefore comprehensible that they should likewise wish to defend their interests.

Mr. Epitacio Pessoa (Brazil) withdrew the portion of his resolution regarding the adjournment of the elections and agreed to address to the Supreme Allied Council a list of ten names for each Commission, on condition that the Powers with special interests retained the right themselves to elect their five Delegates in the event of the Great Powers not considering it possible to grant them ten Delegates.

[Page 461]

This proposal was supported by Mr. Pandia Calogeras (Brazil), who further requested that the list of ten names for each Commission to be forwarded to the Supreme Council should be accompanied by the resolution which the Representatives of the Powers with special interests had adopted.

An exchange of views took place between the members of the Assembly on the question as to whether, in the event of the Supreme Allied Council declining to accept the number of ten Delegates, which would be proposed to it, it would be suitable to refer to the Council’s decision the appointment of the five Delegates, or to leave their designation in the hands of the Powers with special interests.

It was decided to split up the proposal of Mr. Epitacio Pessoa.

The first portion of the proposal, viz., to appoint ten Delegates for each Commission, was put to the vote and adopted.

The Session was adjourned at 4.45 p.m. in order to enable the members of the Assembly to have an exchange of views before a vote was taken. The Session was resumed at 5 o’clock.

On the resumption of the Session, Mr. Epitacio Pessoa (Brazil) stated that the Delegates had come to an agreement in regard to the presentation of the two lists in alphabetical order. If the Supreme Allied Council accepted the number of ten Delegates to represent the Powers with special interests, that appointment would stand. If the Council insisted on limiting that representation to five Delegates, it would return the two lists and the Powers with special interests would themselves choose the five Delegates.

Mr. Politis (Greece) remarked that an agreement existed for including in the lists the names as settled in the preparatory meeting.

Thereupon the President put to the vote the names of the following countries as proposed for each Commission:—

  • Economic Commission:—Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Peru, Poland, Roumania, Serbia, Siam and the Czecho-Slovak Republic.
  • Financial Commission:—Belgium, Brazil, Ecuador, Greece, Hedjaz, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, Serbia and the Czechoslovak Republic.

These two lists were unanimously adopted.

The President, in conformity with the desire expressed by the Assembly, was to hand the two lists to the Supreme Allied Council. If the Council accepted them, the matter would be ended: but if it considered the number of Delegates too great, the President would propose that the Assembly should be summoned again in order to choose itself from the list the number of Delegates which the Council might determine.

The Session was suspended at 6.10 p.m.

J. Cambon
  1. Reprinted from printed text in the files. A similar mimeographed text in the files, dated March 21, 1919, bears the notation: “The attached is a revised and abbreviated report of the Session of the Powers with Special Interests held Monday, March 3, 1919. Note: It should be substituted for the longer short-hand report which was circulated on March 5, 1919.” The earlier text, a copy of which is in the files, is not printed here. It is published in Miller, My Diary vol. xx, p. 209.
  2. The Minutes of the Meeting held on the 27th January, 1919, were issued as Annex 6 to Protocol No. 2. [Footnote in the original.]
  3. The text of this report may be found in the Minutes of the Council of Ten of March 1, 1919, BC–42; see vol. iv, p. 180.