Paris Peace Conf. 180.03101/14


Secretary’s Notes of a Conversation Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, January 22, 1919, at 15 Hours 15

  • Present
    • America, United States of
      • President Wilson.
      • Mr. R. Lansing.
      • Mr. A. H. Frazier.
      • Colonel U. S. Grant.
      • Mr. L. Harrison.
    • British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George.
      • The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
      • Lt. Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey, K. C. B.
      • Mr. E. Phipps.
      • Major A. M. Caccia, M. V. O.
    • France
      • M. Clemenceau.
      • M. Pichon.
      • M. Dutasta.
      • M. Berthelot.
      • Captain A. Portier.
    • Italy
      • His Excellency M. Orlando.
      • His Excellency Baron Sonnino.
      • Count Aldrovandi.
      • Major A. Jones.
    • Japan
      • Baron Makino.
      • His Excellency. M. Matsui.
      • M. Saburi.

Interpreter: Professor P. J. Mantoux.

1. Situation in Russia. Issue of Proclamation to Russian Groups President Wilson read a draft proclamation which he had prepared for the consideration of his colleagues, in accordance with the decision reached at yesterday’s meeting.

After a discussion the following text was adopted, to Russian Groups to be publicly transmitted to parties invited:—

The single object the representatives of the associated Powers have had in mind in their discussions of the course they should pursue with regard to Russia has been to help the Russian people, not to hinder them, or to interfere in any manner with their right to settle their own affairs in their own way. They regard the Russian people as their friends not their enemies, and are willing to help them in any way they are willing to be helped. It is clear to them that the troubles and distresses of the Russian people will steadily increase, hunger and privation of every kind become more and more acute, more and more widespread, and more and more impossible to relieve, unless order is restored, and normal conditions of labour, trade and transportation once more created, and they are seeking some way in which to assist the Russian people to establish order.

They recognise the absolute right of the Russian people to direct their own affairs without dictation or direction of any kind from outside. They do not wish to exploit or make use of Russia in any way. They recognise the revolution without reservation, and will in no way, and in no circumstances, aid or give countenance to any attempt at a counter-revolution. It is not their wish or purpose [Page 677] to favour or assist any one of those organized groups now contending for the leadership and guidance of Russia as against the others. Their sole and sincere purpose is to do what they can to bring Russia peace and an opportunity to find her way out of her present troubles.

The associated Powers are now engaged in the solemn and responsible work of establishing the peace of Europe and of the world, and they are keenly alive to the fact that Europe and the world cannot be at peace if Russia is not. They recognise and accept it as their duty, therefore, to serve Russia in this matter as generously, as unselfishly, as thoughtfully, as ungrudgingly as they would serve every other friend and ally. And they are ready to render this service in the way that is most acceptable to the Russian people.

In this spirit and with this purpose, they have taken the following action: They invite every organised group that is now exercising, or attempting to exercise, political authority or military control anywhere in Siberia, or within the boundaries of European Russia as they stood before the war just concluded (except in Finland) to send representatives, not exceeding three representatives for each group, to the Princes Islands, Sea of Marmora, where they will be met by representatives of the associated Powers, provided, in the meantime, there is a truce of arms amongst the parties invited, and that all armed forces anywhere sent or directed against any people or territory outside the boundaries of European Russia as they stood before the war, or against Finland, or against any people or territory whose autonomous action is in contemplation in the fourteen articles upon which the present negotiations are based, shall be meanwhile withdrawn, and aggressive military action cease. These representatives are invited to confer with the representatives of the Associated Powers in the freest and frankest way, with a view to ascertaining the wishes of all sections of the Russian people, and bringing about, if possible, some understanding and agreement by which Russia may work out her own purposes and happy co-operative relations be established between her people and the other peoples of the world.

A prompt reply to this invitation is requested. Every facility for the journey of the representatives, including transport across the Black Sea, will be given by the Allies, and all the parties concerned are expected to give the same facilities. The representative[s] will be expected at the place appointed by the 15th February, 1919.

2. League of Nations Mr. Lloyd George read a draft of preliminary resolutions for a League of Nations. This document was intended primarily for the guidance of a special Committee to be appointed to draw up the constitution of the League of Nations.

After a discussion, the following text was adopted:—

The Conference having considered the proposals for the creation of a League of Nations, resolves that:

It is essential to the maintenance of the world settlement, which the associated nations are now met to establish, that a League of Nations be created to promote international co-operation, [Page 678] to ensure the fulfillment of accepted international obligations, and to provide safeguards against war.
This League should be created as an integral part of the general treaty of peace, and should be open to every civilised nation which can be relied on to promote its object.
The members of the League should periodically meet for international Conference, and should have a permanent organisation and secretariat to carry on the business of the League in the intervals between the Conferences.

The Conference therefore appoints a Committee representative of the associated Governments to work out the details of the constitution and functions of the League.

Baron Makino wished to explain the position of Japan in connection with the subject of the League of Nations. In the first place, his country was sincerely desirous of co-operating with the Great Powers in this work of great importance, which had for its object the future welfare of mankind, but on account of the great distance and the lack of sufficient preparation, he was not prepared to bind his Government to the above resolutions or to any other definite action until he had received the instructions of his Government. As the work was of such very great importance his Government expected to have the opportunity of studying and understanding the duties and obligations of the new organisation before accepting it. If the work of the Committee was to be preparatory, and opportunity for further scrutiny was to be accorded to his Government, his work would be greatly facilitated. He did not wish to introduce any discordant note, but he simply desired to make matters quite clear. As regards the principles of the League of Nations, he noticed that in clause (b) of the preliminary resolutions, the stipulation was made that the League was to be treated as an integral part of the general treaty of peace. He wished to make it quite clear that his observations applied to that point as well.

M. Clemenceau enquired whether Baron Makino had any objection to his observations being published.

Baron Makino replied that he would ask that his observations be kept confidential.

President Wilson invited attention to the fact that these preliminary resolutions contained nothing new. The League of Nations had been accepted by the Supreme War Council as a basis for the armistice and for the peace treaty. He wished therefore to enquire whether Japan had not been represented on that Council.

M. Matsui stated that he had participated in the meetings of the Supreme War Council: but the fourteen points had not then been discussed.

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President Wilson, continuing, said that at any rate the Supreme War Council had accepted the League of Nations as a basis for the armistice. Therefore he would like to enquire from Baron Makino whether he wished it to be understood that his Government reserved its decision with regard to the basis already accepted by the other Governments.

Baron Makino replied that his Government had given a general assent to the agreements reached up to the time of the signing of the armistice, but they made reservations as to future detailed developments.

Mr. Lloyd George enquired whether the interpretation to be given to Baron Makino’s statement was that Japan did not wish to be represented, even without prejudice, on the Committee to be appointed.

Baron Makino replied that, on the contrary, he wished to be represented on that Committee.

(It was agreed to adopt the text of preliminary resolutions for a League of Nations given above, the reservations made by Japan being duly noted.)

Mr. Lloyd George proposed that each of the Great Powers should appoint two representatives to form a drafting Committee, and that the Great Powers should in addition nominate two or more delegates to represent the whole of the small Powers. A plenary Conference should be summoned, so that these proposals could be laid before it. The names of the representatives of the small Powers nominated by the Great Powers would also be communicated.

President Wilson said he had an amendment to propose. He thought the initial draft should first be drawn up by the delegates of the Great Powers alone. On completion of their report it would be submitted to a larger Committee, on which all the small Powers would be represented. That is to say, the small Powers would not form part of the drafting Committee, but of a criticising Committee, which would follow.

Mr. Lloyd George thought that the League of Nations, however important it might be to the Great Powers, must be even more important to the small Powers, since, if efficacious, it would constitute their shield and protection. For this reason he thought the latter should be represented on the drafting Committee. Still, he saw the force of the objection made by President Wilson. He would therefore propose that the Great Powers should nominate their representatives to form a Committee, which would be authorised to add to their numbers representatives of the small Powers.

President Wilson said that he would rather see a more elastic arrangement. He thought the opinion of the most thoughtful and [Page 680] experienced men of the small Powers should be sought. He had expected that their Committee of ten would call in men like M. Veniselos from time to time, and put to them those features of the scheme that were most likely to affect the small Powers. In this way a considerable number of the representatives of the small Powers would from time to time be consulted as friends and advisers. Advice drawn from men who did not form part of the drafting Committee would be better than that given by men who could put in a caveat. In this way be thought they would avoid the difficulty of seeming to pick out representatives among people who were anxious to appoint their own representatives.

M. Clemenceau said it was his most earnest desire that the work of the small Powers should, as far as possible, be linked up with that of the Great Powers. In his opinion it was very important that this should be done to please the public; otherwise it would be said that they had agreed to publicity and yet worked in private. He agreed to the proposal that the Great Powers should nominate ten representatives, but he would leave it to the small Powers to nominate their five representatives. He was firmly convinced that on these Committees the small Powers would merely follow the lead of the Great Powers, but it was necessary to give them the idea that they were being consulted. He was anxious to call them together and to ask them to select five representatives to act on this Committee.

M. Sonnino enquired whether both neutrals and belligerents were included amongst the small Powers.

M. Clemenceau replied that at present the belligerent Powers alone should be summoned.

Mr. Balfour thought that if an attempt were made to hold an election at a full Conference, serious trouble might arise. They had no apparatus for voting.

M. Clemenceau said that he did not think it would be necessary for the small Powers to vote. They should merely be asked to meet anywhere they liked and select five representatives.

M. Sonnino thought that if they gave the small belligerent Powers five delegates, they would find themselves in a great difficulty, because each of the more important small Powers—Belgium, Serbia, Roumania, Greece, Portugal—would want to be represented. He thought it would be more practicable if the delegates appointed by the Great Powers received a mandate to make proposals, a large number of the representatives of the small Powers being called in subsequently to consider the same.

President Wilson thought that it would be impossible for so large a Committee to draft any instrument. But, as soon as some sort of a draft had been prepared, it should be shown to as many of the [Page 681] representatives of the small Powers as possible, and their impressions and opinions taken. This procedure would greatly shorten the process of drafting. A public man, who had not previously made a careful study of the question, would necessarily require to see the proposals in a concrete form before expressing an opinion.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the procedure now suggested would not bring in the small Powers, who were beginning to complain bitterly at their exclusion. They were here in Paris, and they were doing nothing. They felt they were locked out, and they ought to be brought into the making of the peace. He thought there would be no difficulty in including a certain number of the representatives of the small Powers on the Committee to be formed, because there was a draft ready. This draft had been thought out very carefully. He favoured a process of a select Committee, without reporters, to go through the draft, and to make the necessary amendments. On such a Committee a large number of representatives could be included. He thought that was very important. It was immaterial whether they asked the smaller Powers themselves to select their five representatives or whether the representatives were nominated by the Great Powers. He would propose, therefore, that they should in the first place meet all the Powers at a full Conference in order to ask them to accept the principles set forth in the resolutions for a League of Nations. The Conference would then be informed that the Great Powers had selected their delegates, and the small Powers would be asked to meet together and select their delegates.

President Wilson pointed out that at a previous meeting it had been agreed that there should be no voting. Was an exception to be made in this case? This would be setting a precedent which should be seriously considered.

Mr. Lloyd George replied that the delegations would not be asked to vote. The small Powers would only be entitled to record their dissent. The Great Powers need merely say that they would take note of any suggestions or dissent and consider it later. The Great Powers must reserve the great decisions to themselves.

M. Clemenceau, summing up, said that he understood the sense of the meeting to be that the above resolutions should be submitted for discussion to a full Peace Conference to meet on Saturday. The small Powers would then be invited to meet separately and to select five delegates to be added to the ten representatives of the Great Powers. The text of the preliminary resolutions for a League of Nations would riot be communicated to the Press before the meeting on Saturday next, but it would be circulated forthwith to the various delegations.

[Page 682]

As regards the selection of the delegates to be nominated by the small Powers, it was understood that the principle of one nation, one vote, would apply.

(It was agreed that the above resolutions should be submitted for discussion to a full Peace Conference to meet on Saturday afternoon, the 25th January, 1919. The small Powers would then be invited to meet separately and to select five delegates to be added to the ten representatives of the Great Powers. The text of the preliminary resolutions for a League of Nations would not be communicated to the Press before the meeting on Saturday next; but it would be circulated forthwith to the various delegations.)

3. Labour Legislation Mr. Lloyd George proposed the following resolution:—

“That a Commission composed of two representatives apiece from the five Great Powers, and five representatives to be elected by the smaller Powers, be appointed to consider the establishment of a permanent organisation for concerting joint legislation in regard to industrial and labour questions between the States.”

President Wilson enquired whether it was contemplated that the acceptance of the recommendations of that Committee would involve something being put in the peace treaty. He thought that a proposal of this kind was pertinent to the League of Nations, and the agreement reached should not be included in the peace treaty. He enquired whether it would not be better to redraft the resolution in order to make this point quite clear.

(This suggestion was accepted, and Mr. Lloyd George agreed to prepare a fresh draft, embodying this point, for discussion at the next meeting.)

4. Reparations Mr. Lloyd George proposed that a Commission be appointed, with three representatives apiece for each of the five Great Powers and Belgium and Serbia, to examine and report on the question of the amount of the sum for reparation and indemnity which the enemy countries should pay or are capable of paying, and the form in which payment should be made.

President Wilson proposed that the word “indemnity” should be omitted. He thought the word “reparation” would meet the case. Bodies of working people all over the world had protested against indemnities, and he thought the expression “reparations” would be sufficiently inclusive.

Mr. Lloyd George accepted the proposal, provided the word “reparations” was taken in its widest terms.

(This proposal was accepted.)

M. Pichon drew attention to the fact that Greece had been given no representation.

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Mr. Balfour said that Russian Poland had suffered more than any country, and almost as badly as Belgium.

M. Sonnino also mentioned Roumania.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that the small Powers should be invited to select five delegates.

President Wilson thought that Belgium, Serbia, Greece and Roumania might be given two representatives apiece.

M. Pichon said that Poland had two representatives at the Peace Conference, and should also be included.

(It was agreed that a new draft should be prepared by Mr. Lloyd George and submitted for consideration at the next meeting.)

(The meeting then adjourned, to meet again at 10 hours 30 the next day.)