Paris Peace Conf. 180.0201/3
Preliminary Peace Conference, Protocol No. 3, Plenary Session of February 14, 1919
The session is opened under the presidency of M. Clemenceau, President, at 15:30 o’clock (3:30 p.m.).
- For the United States of America
- The President of the United States.
- Honorable Robert Lansing.
- Honorable Henry White.
- Honorable Edward M. House.
- General Tasker H. Bliss.
- For the British Empire
- great britain
- The Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour.
- The Rt. Hon. the Viscount Milner, G. C. B., G. C. M. G., Secretary of State for the Colonies.
- The Rt. Hon. G. N. Barnes.
- The Rt. Hon. Arthur Lewis Sifton.
- The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Ward (Bart).
- The Rt. Hon. the Lord Robert Cecil, Technical Delegate for the League of Nations.
- Dominions and India
- The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Borden.
- The Rt. Hon. Sir George Eulas Foster.
- The Rt. Hon. W. M. Hughes.
- The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Cook.
- south africa
- Lt. General the Rt. Hon. J. C. Smuts.
- new zealand
- The Rt. Hon. W. F. Massey.
- Major-General His Highness the Maharaja of Bikaner.
- Mr. Clemenceau.
- Mr. Pichon.
- Mr. L. L. Klotz.
- Mr. André Tardieu.
- Mr. Jules Cambon.
- Mr. Léon Bourgeois, Technical Delegate for the League of Nations.
- Mr. V. E. Orlando.
- Baron S. Sonnino.
- The Marquis Salvago Raggi.
- Mr. Crespi, Minister of Food (replacing Mr. Antonio Salandra.)
- Mr. Scialoja, Technical Delegate for the League of Nations.
- The Baron Makino.
- The Viscount Chinda.
- Mr. K. Matsui.
- Mr. H. Ijuin.
- Mr. Hymans.
- Mr. Van den Heuvel.
- Mr. Ismael Montes.
- Mr. Epitacio Pessõa, Former Minister of State, Former Minister of the Supreme Court of Justice, Federal Senator.
- Mr. Olyntho de Magalhaes.
- Mr. Raoul Fernandes, Deputy.
- Mr. Vi Kyuin Wellington Koo, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of China at Washington.
- [Page 209]Mr. Sao-Ke Alfred Sze, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of China at London.
- Mr. Antonio Sanchez de Bustamante.
- Mr. Dorn y de Alsua.
- Mr. Eleftherios Veniselos.
- Mr. Nicolas Politis.
- Mr. Tertullien Guilbaud, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Haiti at Paris.
- The Hedjaz
- His Highness the Emir Feisal.
- Mr. Rustem Haidar.
- Hon. C. D. B. King, Secretary of State.
- Mr. Antonio Burgos, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Panama at Madrid.
- Mr. Roman Dmowski.
- Dr. Casimir Dluski.
- Dr. Egas Moniz.
- Mr. Jayme Batalha Reis.
- Mr. Jean C. Bratiano.
- Mr. Nicholas Misu.
- Mr. Trumbitch.
- Mr. Vesnitch.
- Mr. Ivan Zolger, Professor of the Faculty of Law at the University of Zagreb.
- Prince Traidos Prabandhu, Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
- Mr. Phya Bibadh Kosha.
- The Czecho-Slovak Republic
- Mr. Charles Kramar.
- Mr. Edouard Benes, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- Mr. Juan Carlos Blanco, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Uruguay at Paris.
- For the United States of America
The Minutes of the Sessions of 18th and 25th of January, 1919 (Protocols Nos. 1 and 2) are passed.
The Agenda Paper provides for the submission to the Conference of the Report of the League of Nations Commission on its labors.
The President of the United States delivers the following speech:
“I have the honor, and, as I esteem it, the very great privilege of reporting, in the name of the Commission constituted by this Conference, on the formulation of a plan for the League of Nations. I am happy to say that it is a unanimous report, a unanimous report from the Representatives of fourteen nations—the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Belgium, Brazil, China, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, and Serbia. I think it will be serviceable and interesting if, with your permission, I read the document as the only report which we have to make.” (See Annex A).
President Wilson then reads out the draft Covenant, and comments on Articles 15 and 19 in the following terms.
After reading Article 15, President Wilson adds:
“I pause to point out that a misconception might arise in connection with one of the sentences which I have just read: ‘If any party shall refuse to so comply, the Council shall propose the measures necessary to give effect to the recommendation’. A case in point, a purely hypothetical case, is this: suppose that there is in the possession of a particular Power a piece of territory or some other substantial thing in dispute to which it is claimed that the Power in question is not entitled; suppose that the matter is submitted to the Executive Council for a recommendation as to the settlement of the dispute, diplomacy having failed; and suppose that the decision is in favor of the party which claims the subject matter of dispute as against the party which has the subject matter in dispute. Then, if the party in possession of the subject matter in dispute merely sits still and does nothing, it has accepted the decision of the Council, in the sense that it makes no resistance; but something must be done to see that it surrenders the subject matter in dispute. In such a case, the only case contemplated, it is provided that the Executive Council may then consider what steps may be necessary to oblige the party against whom judgment has gone to comply with the decisions of the Council.”
President Wilson makes the following observations in regard to Article 19:
“Let me say before reading Article 19, that before being embodied in this document it was the subject matter of a very careful discussion by Representatives of the five greater parties, and that their unanimous conclusion in the matter is embodied in this Article.”
After reading the entire document, President Wilson says:
“It gives me pleasure to add to this formal reading of the result of our labors that the character of the discussion which occurred at the sittings of the Commission was not only of the most constructive but of the most encouraging sort. It was obvious throughout our discussions that, although there were subjects upon which there were individual differences of judgment, with regard to the method by which our objects should be attained, there was practically at no point any serious difference of opinion or motive as to the objects which we were seeking. Indeed, while these debates were not made the opportunity for the expression of enthusiasms and sentiments, I think the other members of the commission will agree with me that there was an undertone of high resolve and of enthusiasm for the [Page 211]thing we were trying to do, which was heartening throughout every meeting, because we felt that in a way this Conference had entrusted to us the expression of one of its highest and most important purposes, to see to it that the concord of the world in the future with regard to the objects of justice should not be subject to doubt or uncertainty; that the cooperation of the great body of nations should be assured from the first in the maintenance of peace upon the terms of honor and of strict regard for international obligation. The compulsion of that task was constantly upon us, and at no point was there shown the slightest desire to do anything but suggest the best means to accomplish that great object. There is very great significance, therefore, in the fact that the result was reached unanimously. Fourteen nations were represented, among them all of those Powers which for convenience we have called the great Powers, and among the rest a representation of the greatest variety of circumstance and interest. So that I think we are justified in saying that it was a representative group of the Members of this great Conference. The significance of the result, therefore, has that deepest of all meanings, the union of wills in a common purpose, a union of wills which cannot be resisted, and which I dare say no nation will run the risk of attempting to resist.
“Now as to the character of the Covenant. While it has consumed some time to read this document, I think you will see at once that it is, after all, very simple, and in nothing so simple as in the structure which it suggests for the League of Nations—a Body of Delegates, an Executive Council, and a Permanent Secretariat. When it came to the question of determining the character of the representation in the Body of Delegates, we were all aware of a feeling which is current throughout the world. Inasmuch as I am stating it in the presence of official Representatives of the various Governments here present, including myself, I may say that there is a universal feeling that the world cannot rest satisfied with merely official guidance. There reached us through many channels the feeling that if the deliberative body of the League was merely to be a body of officials representing the various Governments, the peoples of the world would not be sure that some of the mistakes which preoccupied officials had admittedly made might not be repeated. It was impossible to conceive a method or an assembly so large and various as to be really representative of the great body of the peoples of the world, because, as I roughly reckon it, we represent as we sit around this table more than twelve hundred million people. You cannot have a representative assembly of twelve hundred million people; but if you leave it to each Government to have, if it pleases, one or two or three representatives, though only a single vote, it may vary its representation [Page 212]from time to time; not only that, but it may originate the choice of its several representatives, if it should have several, in different ways. Therefore, we thought that this was a proper and a very prudent concession to the practically universal opinion of plain men everywhere, in that they wanted the door left open to a variety of representation instead of being confined to a single official body with which they might or might not find themselves in sympathy.
“You will notice also that this body has unlimited rights of discussion,—I mean of discussion of anything that falls within the field of international relationship,—and that it is specially agreed that war or international misunderstandings or anything that may lead to friction and trouble is everybody’s business, because it may affect the peace of the world. In order to safeguard, so far as we could, the popular power of this representative body, it is provided, you will notice, that when a subject is submitted, not to arbitration, but to discussion by the Executive Council, it can upon the initiative of either one of the parties to the dispute be drawn out of the Executive Council into the larger forum of the General Body of Delegates; because throughout this instrument we are depending primarily and chiefly upon one great force, and that is the moral force of the public opinion of the world,—the cleansing and clarifying and compelling influences of publicity; so that intrigues can no longer have their coverts, so that designs that are sinister can at any time be drawn into the open, so that those things that are destroyed by the light may be promptly destroyed by the overwhelming light of the universal expression of the condemnation of the world.
“Armed force is in the background in this programme, but it is in the background, and if the moral force of the world will not suffice, the physical force of the world shall. But that is the last resort, because this is intended as a constitution of peace, not as a League of War.
“The simplicity of the document seems to me to be one of its chief virtues, because, speaking for myself, I was unable to foresee the variety of circumstances with which this League would have to deal. I was unable, therefore, to plan all the machinery that might be necessary to meet differing and unexpected contingencies. Therefore, I should say of this document that it is not a straitjacket but a vehicle of life. A living thing is born, and we must see to it that the clothes we put upon it do not hamper it,—a vehicle of power, but a vehicle in which power may be varied at the discretion of those who exercise it and in accordance with the changing circumstances of the time. And yet, while it is elastic, while it is general in its terms, it is definite in the one thing that we were called upon to make definite. It is a definite guarantee of peace. It is a definite [Page 213]guarantee by word against aggression. It is a definite guarantee against the things which have just come near bringing the whole structure of civilization into ruin. Its purposes do not for a moment lie vague. Its purposes are declared and its powers made unmistakable.
“It is not in contemplation that this should be merely a League to secure the peace of the world. It is a League which can be used for cooperation in any international matter. That is the significance of the provision introduced concerning labor. There are many ameliorations of labor conditions which can be effected by conference and discussion. I anticipate that there will be a very great usefulness in the Bureau of Labor which it is contemplated shall be set up by the League. While men and women and children who work have been in the background through long ages, and sometimes seemed to be forgotten, while Governments have had their watchful and suspicious eyes upon the maneuvers of one another, while the thought of statesmen has been about structural action and the large transactions of commerce and of finance, now, if I may believe the picture which I see, there comes into the foreground the great body of the laboring people of the world, the men and women and children upon whom the great burden of sustaining the world must from day to day fall, whether we wish it to do so or not; people who go to bed tired and wake up without the stimulation of lively hope. These people will be drawn into the field of international consultation and help, and will be among the wards of the combined Governments of the world. There is, I take leave to say, a very great step in advance in the mere conception of that.
“Then, as you will notice, there is an imperative article concerning the publicity of all international agreements. Henceforth no member of the League can claim any agreement as valid which it has not registered with the Secretary General, in whose office, of course, it will be subject to the examination of anybody representing a member of the League; and the duty is laid upon the Secretary General to publish every document of that sort at the earliest possible time. I suppose most persons who have not been conversant with the business of Foreign Offices do not realize how many hundreds of these agreements are made in a single year, and how difficult it might be to publish the more unimportant of them immediately—how uninteresting it would be to most of the world to publish them immediately—but even they must be published just so soon as it is possible for the Secretary General to publish them.
“Then there is a feature about this Covenant which to my mind is one of the greatest and most satisfactory advances that have been made. We are done with annexations of helpless people, meant in some [Page 214]instances by some Powers to be used merely for exploitation. We recognize in the most solemn manner that the helpless and undeveloped peoples of the world, being in that condition, put an obligation upon us to look after their interests primarily before we use them for our interest; and that in all cases of this sort hereafter it shall be the duty of the League to see that the nations which are assigned as the tutors and advisers and directors of those peoples, shall look to their interest and to their development before they look to the interests and material desires of the mandatory nation itself. There has been no greater advance than this, gentlemen. If you look back upon the history of the world you will see how helpless peoples have too often been a prey to Powers that had no conscience in the matter. It has been one of the many distressing revelations of recent years that the great Power which has just been happily defeated put intolerable burdens and injustices upon the helpless people of some of the Colonies which it annexed to itself; that its interest was rather their extermination than their development; that the desire was to possess their land for European purposes, and not to enjoy their confidence in order that mankind might be lifted in those places to the next higher level. Now, the world, expressing its conscience in law, says there is an end of that. Our consciences shall be applied to this thing. States will be picked out which have already shown that they can exercise a conscience in this matter, and under their tutelage the helpless peoples of the world will come into a new light and into a new hope.
“So I think I can say of this document that it is at one and the same time, a practical document and a humane document. There is a pulse of sympathy in it. There is a compulsion of conscience throughout it. It is practical, and yet it is intended to purify, to rectify, to elevate. And I want to say that, so far as my observation instructs me, this is in one sense a belated document. I believe that the conscience of the world has long been prepared to express itself in some such way. We are not just now discovering our sympathy for these people and our interest in them. We are simply expressing it, for it has long been felt, and in the administration of the affairs of more than one of the great States represented here,—so far as I know of all the great States that are represented here,—that humane impulse has already expressed itself in their dealings with their Colonies, whose peoples were yet at a low stage of civilization. We have had many instances of Colonies lifted into the sphere of complete self-government. This is not the discovery of a principle. It is the universal application of a principle. It is the agreement of the great nations which have tried to live by these standards in their separate administrations to unite in seeing that their common force and their common thought and intelligence are lent to this great and [Page 215]humane enterprise. I think it is an occasion, therefore, for the most profound satisfaction that this humane decision should have been reached in a matter for which the world has long been waiting, and until a very recent period thought that it was still too early to hope.
“Many terrible things have come out of this war, gentlemen, but some very beautiful things have come out of it. Wrong has been defeated, but the rest of the world has been more conscious than it ever was before of the majesty of Right. People who were suspicious of one another can now live as friends and comrades in a single family, and desire to do so. The miasma of distrust, of intrigue, is cleared away. Men are looking eye to eye and saying: ‘We are brothers and have a common purpose. We did not realize it before, but now we do realize it, and this is our Covenant of fraternity and of friendship’.”
Lord Robert Cecil (Great Britain) expressing the views of the British Empire Delegation, delivers the following speech:
“Mr. President and Gentlemen:
“I rejoice very much that the course which has been taken this afternoon has been pursued. It seems to me a good omen for the great project in which we are engaged, that before its final completion it should have been published to the world and laid before all its people for their advice and for their criticism. The President spoke of the spirit which animated the Commission over which he presided with such distinction. I gladly bear my testimony to the complete accuracy, both in letter and in spirit, of everything which he said about it. It was indeed a pleasure to serve with such colleagues, and but for the common purpose and the common devotion to that purpose, it would have been impossible for us to have accomplished the task set before us within the time which was given to us. For, after all, the problem which we were engaged in solving was one of great difficulty. As I see it, it was to devise some really effective means of preserving the peace of the world consistently with the least possible interference with national sovereignty. You have heard the Covenant, and it is unnecessary for me to dwell on it in detail. It is enough to say that we have sought to safeguard the peace of the world by establishing certain principles. The first and chiefest of them is that no nation shall go to war with any other nation until every other possible means of settling the dispute shall have been fully and fairly tried.
“Secondly, we lay down that, under no circumstances, shall any nation seek forcibly to disturb the territorial settlement to be arrived at as the consequence of this peace or to interfere with the political independence of any of the States in the world.
“Those are the two great precepts which we seek to lay down for the government of international relations, and we have recognized [Page 216]that if those principles are really to be acted upon, we must go one step further and lay it down that no nation must retain armaments on a scale fitted only for aggressive purposes. I do not doubt that the working out of that principle will be difficult, but it is laid down clearly in this document, and the organs of the League are entrusted with the duties of producing for the consideration and support of the Governments of the world a workable scheme for carrying it into effect. And, finally, we have thought that if the world is to be at peace, it is not enough to forbid war. We must do something more than that. We must try to substitute for the principle of international competition, that of international co-operation, and you will find at the end of this document a number of clauses which point out some of the various respects in which the world can better discharge its duties by the co-operation of each nation for purposes which are beneficial to the whole of them. They are examples of what may be done. There are many omissions. There is one clause which points out that future efforts at international co-operation shall all be made subject to and connected with the League of Nations. Certainly, I should hope that there are many questions, such as the opium trade, the white slave traffic and, in another order of ideas, the regulation of the rules of the air, which, besides those mentioned in this document, call earnestly for effective international co-operation. Certainly it is that if we can once get the nations of the world into the habit of co-operating with one another, you will have struck a great blow at the source and origin of all or almost all the world wars which have defaced the history of the world. Those, I believe, are the principles on which we have relied for the safeguarding of peace, and as to national sovereignty we have thought, in the first place, that the League should not in any respect interfere with the internal affairs of any nation. I do not regard the clause which deals with labor as any such interference. For this is quite certain, that no real progress in ameliorating the conditions of labor can be hopeful except by international agreement. Therefore, although in a sense the conditions of labor in a country are a matter of internal concern, yet, under the conditions under which we now live, that is not so in truth, and bad conditions of labor in one country operate with fatal effect in depressing conditions of labor in another.
“Secondly, we have laid down—and this is the great principle in all action, whether of the Executive Council, or of the Body of Delegates, except in very special cases and for very special reasons which are set out in the Covenant—all action must be unanimously agreed to in accordance with the general rule that governs international relations. That that will, to some extent, in appearance at any rate, militate [Page 217]against the rapidity of action of the organs of the League, is undoubted but, in my judgment, that defect is far more than compensated by the confidence that it will inspire that no nation, whether small or great, need fear oppression from the organs of the League.
“Gentlemen, I have little more to say. The President has pointed out that the frame of the organization suggested is very simple. He has alluded to some respects in which some may think it might have been more elaborate, but I agree with him that simplicity is the essence of our plans. We are not seeking to produce for the world a building finished and complete in all respects. To have attempted such a thing would have been an arrogant piece of folly. All we have tried to do—all we have hoped to do—is to lay soundly and truly, the foundations upon which our successors may build. I believe those foundations have been well laid and it depends upon those who come after us what will be the character and stability of the building erected upon them. If it is merely a repetition of the old experiments of alliance, if we are merely to have a new version of the Holy Alliance, designed for however good a purpose, believe me, Gentlemen, our attempt is doomed to failure. Nor must it be merely an unpractical effort in international dialectics. It must be a practical thing—instinct, and this is the real point—instinct with a genuine purpose to achieve the main objects we have in view. And if those who build on these foundations really believe that the interest of one is the interest of all, and that the prosperity of the world is bound up with the prosperity of each nation that makes it up—that goes to compose the family—then and then only will the finished structure of the League of Nations be what it ought to be—a safety and a glory for the humanity of the world.”
Mr. Orlando (Italy), speaking in French, expresses the views of the Italian Delegation in the following speech:
“If I had only intended to take part in this debate in order to express my deep satisfaction at having been able to collaborate in the first draft of the document which has been laid before you, I venture to hope that my feelings would nevertheless have seemed justified, seeing that we all await, with fervent faith, as a result of this act, a rebirth of the whole world the like of which history has never seen. But the object of this debate is to submit to examination by the public opinion of the world a new international order. I should like, then, to make my modest contribution to its discussion by supplementing the explanations made by my colleagues by a few remarks not relating to the general spirit of the act, for that has been explained by the man who has the highest and noblest title for the task, a title before which we all bow; nor even relating to fundamental [Page 218]principles, which Lord Robert Cecil set forth both forcibly and clearly. I will rather say a few words on the general method by which we have pursued our work. The task was incomparably difficult. We started from two absolute principles which a priori it might seem dialectically impossible to reconcile with one another. On the other hand the principle of the sovereignty of States, which is supreme and brooks no comparison or relation, and on the other the necessity of imposing from above a restraint on the conduct of States so that the sphere of their rights should harmonize with that of the rights of all the others, in order that their liberty should not include the liberty to do evil. We were able to effect a reconciliation between these two principles on the basis of ‘self-constraint,’ a spontaneous coercion, so that states will in future be brought, under the control of the public opinion of the whole world, voluntarily to recognize the restraint imposed on them for the sake of universal peace. I know that even the possibility of such a transformation is the object of attacks by sceptics, who are by turns sad or ironical, according to their temperament. Towards these sceptics I will act like a Greek philosopher who, when a Sophist told him that he could not move, answered by getting up and walking. The possibility of this spontaneous and collective admission of a higher interest has been proved to us in effect by the work on the Commission in which I have had the honor to take part. Itself—it was a Committee of a League of Nations; eminent statesmen represented there the views and interests of the most different peoples, living on all the continents of the globe, and found themselves face to face with the gravest problems, the solution of which might have made the boldest revolutionary hesitate.
“Nevertheless, agreement has been reached, and that in a relatively rapid and simple manner. This agreement has come into existence as the result of loyal discussion which has brought out the difficulties of the different solutions and pointed to the wisest, sometimes in the direction of the greatest good and sometimes in that of the least evil. But occasionally, in the most thorny and difficult cases, it has been possible to reach an agreement by an adjournment during which a solution of the doubt which appeared to us impossible ripened in our consciences, just as in the course of time the seed ripens in the deep soil. So it has been in such cases and so it will always be in the future. We offer to the world to-day not only a great idea, but the proof of a tangible reality.
“Allow me to add that this miracle has been rendered possible by the subtle and mysterious action of that generous blood which has bathed the earth in streams, of that infinite mourning which all humanity has borne.[Page 219]
“After wars, monuments have been set up on which have been inscribed the names of the fallen brave. Alas, the most gigantic buildings, the ancient Pyramids of Egypt themselves, could not give room enough for the names of the millions of mortals who have given their lives for the freedom of the world. I think that a more lasting monument will be set up to their memory through the acts performed today by the peoples called by a great and mournful destiny to fight for so great a cause. This charter of freedom and life was born of grief and proclaims a redemption hallowed by sacrifice.”
Mr. Leon Bourgeois (France) speaking in French, expresses the views of the French Delegation in the following speech:
“Gentlemen, you will permit me, as the representative of the French Delegation, to express in my turn the deep satisfaction which we all feel—and France perhaps yet more deeply than other nations, because she is one of those that has suffered most,—at the union of our minds and wills in the act of mutual faith by which we pledge our enthusiastic adhesion to the principle and the constitution of the League of Nations. We perform this act of mutual faith and we thank the Commission of which we have been members for the care, the zeal and the spirit of good understanding and cordiality with which it has undertaken and completed its labors under the distinguished impulse which President Wilson has given.
“Our colleague, Lord Robert Cecil, said just now that the Commission was laying this document before you not so much as a final result but rather as a work conscientiously prepared and carefully submitted to all of you for examination; more especially is it submitted as from today, since the Draft is about to become public, to the judgment, the comment and perhaps even the criticism of public opinion throughout the world. We have been unanimous in adopting the principles which are embodied in this Draft.
“It stands to reason that we reserve a complete liberty of comment and of amending if necessary points which, when the final discussion takes place, it may appear to us should be subjected to a fresh examination.
“There is, therefore, unanimity in regard to the principles. Signor Orlando, in reminding us of these, said with unusual eloquence that there was something in the nature of a contradiction in the problem which confronted us. How were we to reconcile the principle of the sovereignty of States with the obligation by which they were to bind themselves to limit their political and military action to the precise point where Justice and Right summoned them to stop? This reconciliation has been effected, if I may say so, automatically and, to pursue the metaphor of our distinguished colleague, we have proved the existence of motion by moving.[Page 220]
“Among these principles is it necessary to recall those which constitute the very foundation of every international organization of law? In response to the appeal of the millions of dead whose memory has been invoked, of all those who have fallen and of those who mourn them, of all those who by their personal sacrifice have sought to avert for their descendants sacrifices the like of which they themselves have borne, we have risen up against the possible renewal of war. Together we have banded ourselves in order to obviate, by every possible human means, the renewal of the war, in the conviction that henceforth no private war will be possible in the world and that the complete and close interdependence in which all nations are today united, by the community of their financial, economic, intellectual and moral interests, renders impossible a fresh conflict at any point on the globe’s surface without the entire world being dragged into it by reason of the inevitable community of interest of the peoples of the world.
“We are laying it down that Right and Justice must be the basis of settlement for all conflicts and all international differences, and that the door of the Tribunal is open to every State; in that Tribunal each State will be certain of finding judges who will not even know whether they themselves belong to a great or a small Power, because they will sit there, not as the representatives of that Power, but as the representatives of Right.
“There is another principle to which we are especially attached because it really constitutes the kernel of international obligation; for all States now consent to bow before a common justice, and agree at the same time mutually to guarantee to each other their territorial integrity and their political independence on any occasion when one or other of these higher interests may be threatened by violence or some disturbance.
“Such is the group of obligations which we accept, and such is the object at which the Covenant now laid before you aims; and I hope, as you do all, that the means which have been proposed may enable us to attain our end in fact.
“The purpose of one part of the Covenant is to group round legal institutions a number of factors of real activity which shall actually facilitate the settlement of disputes. We consider it necessary to develop all international institutions which increase the degree of interdependence of the interests of all States, and thereby strengthen the ties which unite us. A certain number of international institutions exist already: we must complete and develop them in such a manner as to make them comprise the majority of the purposes of human activity.
“It is hardly necessary for me to say in regard to all these principles that we have been unanimous, not only in proclaiming them, but in [Page 221]insuring that they should be heard and understood throughout the world and that, even among those States which have the greatest difficulty in conceiving this idea of justice, the light should shine at last and illuminate men’s consciences.
“If, however, we wish these principles to triumph, if we wish them to be guarded by effective guarantees, it is not enough to proclaim them—we must further organize a system of jurisdiction and action alike in order to defend them.
“This organization—it was alluded to just now—is quite clear and quite simple. The International Council of Delegates represents precisely the principle of the equality of States; all States alike are represented, I mean all the Associated States, and each of them has but one vote. The idea of equality before the Law of Right thus expressed here is, therefore, realized in the clearest possible manner in the organization of the International Council.
“The Executive Committee has another task. In it it is necessary to give a larger and even a preponderant place to those who have the custody of great general interests; but considerable room is likewise given to the small States. In deciding that the Great Powers should have five votes and the small Powers four votes, our Commission showed its desire to respect the interests of small States.
“All conflicts are to be submitted either to arbitration or to examination by the Executive Committee. Respect for sentences pronounced and decisions taken is insured by precise rules, the contravention of which would be regarded as an act of war against all the States. There you find the true idea of mutual support assuming a definite shape; when one of the members of the League, however small and however distant, finds itself attacked by a violence which is recognised as unjust, it is the whole League of Nations which regards itself as attacked; thenceforward the State responsible for this act of violence must regard itself as being in a state of war, not merely with the State which has been the victim of the aggression, but with the whole world.
“We must, however, go yet further. In order definitely to secure the respect due to international sentences and decisions, there must be a limitation of armaments.
“This limitation of armaments has long been one of the objects of our desires. Those among you, Gentlemen, who in former times were present at the discussions at The Hague, will remember this. Today, thanks to the victory which has rendered possible the almost complete disarmament of the vanquished and barbarous enemy, the possibility of limiting armaments exists, and it is open to us to effect it in practice. This limitation must be of such a character that no State shall be strong enough to make its own strength prevail against that of the [Page 222]League of Nations. Each State, however, must maintain sufficient forces in order that the League of Nations, by assembling the forces of the different Associated States, may be certain of its ability to make its will prevail.
“Need I say that these rules have been set up unanimously and with the ardent support of the French Delegation? However, and this is a point in regard to which I desire to keep your attention for a few minutes, the danger is not the same for all. We can state this freely because none of the words which I am about to pronounce can be regarded as a criticism of the Plan, but merely as an expression of the desire which we have to see it completed. Special dangers exist for certain countries, for France, for Belgium, for Serbia and for the States which have just been created or reconstituted in Central Europe. These States will need to prepare and elaborate effective guarantees.
“The Commission has unanimously recognized and has taken into account in a formal text ‘the geographical situation and the circumstances of each country’ in the determination which has to be made of the armaments of each State. It follows from this that in cases where some frontiers are exposed to greater dangers than others, it will be permissible for a State thus placed at a dangerous spot to fortify itself more strongly and to increase its army strength and its armaments.
“That is well; but it must not be forgotten that such a State, if it be permitted to increase the strength of its army and its armaments, accepts .thereby an increase of the charges which it has to bear and that, therefore, in the general peaceful struggle between nations those which have voluntarily borne such charges will naturally find themselves in a more difficult situation than the others. It is necessary to take the situation of such States into serious consideration and to see that it shall not be aggravated.
“Two practical questions arise in this connection. In order to attain this necessary safety, armaments must be strictly controlled. It is quite right to bear in mind, and President Wilson indeed reminded us of it latterly with remarkable eloquence, that in modern war the question of material has attained immense importance, for the developments of what has been called scientific barbarity have rendered terribly dangerous the progress which is effected each day in industries of a military character.
“It is, therefore, necessary for the control of munition factories and industries utilisable for war purposes to be guaranteed.
“The Commission has recognized this necessity, for ‘the High Contracting Parties undertake in no way to conceal from each other the condition of such of their industries as are capable of being adapted to warlike purposes or the scale of their armaments, and [Page 223]agree that there shall be full and frank interchange of information as to their military and naval programmes’.
“I am very grateful to the Commission for this new drafting, which has very appreciably approached the solution of the problem.
“It is permissible, however, for us to remark that it would be necessary for a permanent control and statistical organization to be set up, and we ask that a Commission for that purpose should be constituted. That did not prevent us from accepting the Draft as a whole, but we believe that when public opinion is on the point of being placed in a position to study the question it was necessary for us to explain our views.
“There is a second point.
“The State which violates the international Covenant is at war against the remainder. Thus, all the Allied forces will necessarily act in this war which the law of right has sanctioned. One cannot, however, improvise war, especially when it becomes necessary to assemble the forces of numerous distant and different States, the fields of action of which are scattered all over the surface of the world. In each people the determination exists not to risk the lives of its sons in military operations until the sovereign powers of the State have examined the question as to whether the conditions of the Covenant require intervention and whether a case has genuinely arisen in which a moral obligation has become an obligation to act.
“The need for consulting the legal organs of national representation, and of obtaining a parliamentary vote before undertaking any action, involves delays. Time is needed for these deliberations, which will indeed be even impossible unless there exists a previously prepared plan in prevision of the appeal which the League of Nations may address to each member, showing where and how the national contingents can be and should be despatched.
“Finally, in the case of a threat or of aggression—and I beg leave to hold your attention to this point, knowing as I do that your feeling is no less unanimous than was that of the Commission,—we shall be obliged to find a way of fortifying the guarantees of which we stand in need. Measures must have been laid down, submitted for consideration and concerted beforehand in order that in the first place a kind of brake may be put on ill-will or evil intention on the part of enemies: if these know what has been prepared and what will be prepared in order to resist aggression, they will not attempt an aggression. In any other case they will be encouraged to risk one and it will be impossible to achieve the purpose at which we aim.
“It ought to be impossible for a sudden aggression to take place on one of the danger points of the world without the certainty of its being immediately put down. That is the reason for which, although we [Page 224]have no desire to see a renewal of the spectacle to which President Wilson alluded just now, nor of those terrible disasters which seemed to be an indication of the enemy’s will to exterminate, we have asked for the creation of a permanent organism which shall endow the League of Nations with the necessary guarantee. This organism should ‘foresee and prepare the military means destined to insure the fulfillment of the obligations which the Covenant lays on States and to guarantee their immediate efficacy in all urgent cases’.
“In regard to this point our Colleagues told us that difficulties of a constitutional and legal character were to be anticipated before it became possible to institute a permanent organization of this character. We have, however, thought it permissible, at a time when this problem is about to be submitted to public opinion, to state it as freely before that opinion as among ourselves.
“Gentlemen, I will conclude my remarks. Nobody can have misunderstood my words; nobody thinks, I feel sure, that I have said one word likely to weaken the power of the unanimity which has been shown here since the opening of the session and will continue to be evident until its close.
“We are most deeply and whole-heartedly united for the triumph of the cause which, from the first moment, inspired the assembly of this Conference, that is for the prevalence of Right over violence and barbarity. We firmly believe that the Plan now laid before you comprises, in the general aspect of its clauses, the measures which are necessary for the attainment of our purposes; in our opinion, however, and we have expressed it in all sincerity, the Plan is as yet only the foundation on which we shall have to work.
“In concluding my address to you, I wish to express my gratitude to the colleagues with whom we have collaborated in this great work, and to President Wilson, who has presided over our labors; and I beg leave to utter a very sincere wish, in the name of France, that this text, completed in respect of the points which I have brought to your notice, may soon become the Law of Nations.”
February 14, 1919.
Baron Makino (Japan) expresses the views of the Japanese Delegation in the following speech:
“I beg to add another voice to echo the congratulatory speeches that have been made on the completion of what is, perhaps, the most important document ever compiled by the hand of man. The great leaders who, with staunch purpose, have identified themselves with a movement involving the most intricate political problems of many and diverse nations, deserve the gratitude of all mankind for having successfully piloted to this stage the most effective instrument for the [Page 225]maintenance of peace. (Their names will be indelibly written on the pages of history in grateful acknowledgment of the great indebtedness which the present and future generations owe to them as benefactors.)
“I understand there is to be no discussion today on the contents of the draft, and I therefore confine myself to the few remarks I have made, reserving until a later stage of the discussion of this project a certain proposition, which I will have the privilege of submitting to this Conference and for which I shall have to ask favorable and careful consideration by the distinguished representatives of the nations assembled here today.”
Mr. Barnes (Great Britain) expresses the views of the British working classes in the following speech:
“Mr. President and Gentlemen: As one whose privilege it is to represent specially the working folk of Great Britain, I want just to make a very few observations. I think I know the mind of the British people on this question of the League of Nations, and I can assure you that it is one of eager expectancy. The people of Great Britain have shouldered their burden during the war, but through all its struggles and sacrifices they have looked eagerly forward for the day when aggressive war shall be no more. That day is dawning, and I believe has been hastened by the work of the last month. To my mind, Mr. President, there are three outstanding principles in this document, which, I believe, will stand out conspicuously as landmarks in the history of mankind.
“First of all, the substitution of an altruistic principle for imperialism and violence in the adjustment of international affairs. Nations which have suffered and sacrificed in the acquisition of territory have agreed to the overseership of the League of Nations in the administration of that territory. They have further agreed to the principle that the welfare and assent of the peoples shall be the determining considerations in its administration. There is in this agreement, Mr. President, to my mind a great advance in the application of the principle of moral idealism, and I can only say that I believe that that will strike the imagination of the world.
“Second, they have agreed on the principle of reduction of armaments, to a point of national safety, as prescribed by the League of Nations. This, I believe, to be the essential feature of the condition of permanent peace. If there be excess of guns, there will always be a chance of them getting fired off. Moreover, the nations in the future will be unable in any case to bear the burdens of armaments which have been the feature of our sad history during the last two or three decades. I am, therefore, glad that in this document provision is [Page 226]made for reduction of armaments, thereby, I believe, lessening the risk of war and easing the economic burden upon the people.
“The third principle to which I wish to call attention is that the signatories to this document have agreed on a recognition of the evils of private profit in the manufacture of armaments, although, for my part, I should like to have seen a more robust declaration in favor of the abolition of private profit in armaments. Abolition I believe to be a step which will ultimately be found necessary, and I further hope that the Executive may be able to devise ways and means by which private profit may be eliminated, and I am perfectly sure that nothing would be more welcome to the mind of working folk.
“There are just one or two things, Mr. President, which, to my mind, might have been more explicit, and which, I believe, will have to be grafted on to a League of Nations as the idea of world unity becomes more widely accepted. Let me mention one. I am afraid that when the time comes for the enforcement of decrees—if ever it does come, which God forbid—there may be delay and confusion on the part of the League. What I am afraid of is, that an aggressive nation might again try to break through, and win its way to its object, before the forces of mankind can be mobilized against it. Therefore, I should have been glad to have seen some provision for the nucleus of an international force which would be ready to strike against an aggressive nation. This, I know, cuts into the idea of the sovereignty of nations, but I hope that there may be future discussion on the part of the affiliated states as to how they can adjust their national life so as to admit of a greater degree of cooperation than is in this document.
“Finally, I gladly note the insertion of a clause providing for the formation of international charters of labor. Hitherto, nations have endeavored to protect themselves against low-paid labor by the imposition of tariff barriers. I hope we shall in the future, under the authority of the League of Nations, seek and find a better way by abolishing low-paid labor altogether. We hope to raise life and labor from the mere struggle for bread on to higher levels of justice and humanity. The Commission, Mr. Chairman, which was appointed a few weeks ago to go into this matter is now busily engaged in formulating its detailed plan, and we hope to report in a few weeks’ time. I can only say now, on behalf of that Commission, that we shall endeavor to bring ourselves into contact with the League of Nations on as many points as we possibly can, and to bring ourselves in line with this epoch-making document which President Wilson has submitted to us today, and, through us, to a war-weary world.”
Several Delegates thereupon state certain general considerations in regard to the Draft Covenant, or offer remarks on special points.[Page 227]
Mr. Veniselos (Greece), speaking in French, delivers the following speech:
“The President of the Conference does me a great honor in allowing me to speak, but at the same time he puts me in a position of great embarrassment. I really ask myself what I can add to the words uttered by the voices of authority to which the Conference has just listened. I will speak as an idealist—for I am one—in order to express the enthusiasm which the work today laid before the Peace Conference inspires in me. I think, indeed, that idealism, if it excludes materialism, in no wise excludes realism.
“I am sure that humanity never made, by a single stroke of the pen, greater progress towards the assurance of a better future for the world. I know that our plan will not escape criticism—indeed, it has been placed today on the table of the Conference precisely in order to give the critics an opportunity of making themselves heard.
“I ask Mr. Léon Bourgeois’ permission to say a word about the uneasiness which he has shown. There is no question of discussing the draft today. Discussion will come in a few days, perhaps in a month, but I should not like the uneasiness—which is indeed very natural—of Mr. Léon Bourgeois to influence public opinion, which might perhaps think that our work is not sufficiently sound, and does not safeguard sufficiently what we wish to obtain.
“Certain Powers object to the establishment not only of a maximum, but also to that of a minimum armed force. For instance, what Mr. Léon Bourgeois asks is the creation of an armed force ready to intervene.
“We have received the answer that constitutional considerations prevented the realization of this wish.
“I should be glad if this constitutional opposition could be removed and if a contingent could be fixed, which each State would be obliged to keep up with a view to intervention, if necessary.
“But, if we cannot get satisfaction on this point, it must not be thought that this omission would leave the League of Nations without the necessary force to make its will obeyed. Anyone who wishes to disturb the peace of the world will always know that there exists a great force composed of all the armies and of all the resources at the disposal of the States which form the League.
“All the Powers represented here, even those which had not in time of peace sufficient forces, have proved what they were able to do in a relatively short time. Thus, the Power which might have thought that it could by a sudden attack obtain a passing success, will know henceforward that it is doomed to failure, so that, I hope, such an attack will never again take place. However, in order that [Page 228]public opinion may not become too uneasy I express once more, with Mr. Léon Bourgeois, the hope that it will be possible to arrive at the establishment of a minimum force which each State shall be obliged to maintain.
“The Japanese Representative has indeed well expressed the idea which lies behind our thought. Men have seldom drafted a document of such great importance.
“The Italian Prime Minister has very properly reminded us that we owe this great result to the blood of all of those who have offered up their lives to suppress once for all this attempt at universal domination and to assure the freedom of the world.
“I may add that we owe this to the intimate collaboration of peoples who have come from all the ends of the earth to defend the right and who have given us the idea of human solidarity, no longer confined to a single continent, but stretching over the whole world.
“Allow me, Gentlemen, in conclusion to express once more my deep conviction that seldom has humanity taken so great a step towards a better future.”
Mr. Wellington Koo (China) delivers the following speech:
“Mr. President and Gentlemen. I have no lengthy eulogy to deliver, but I just want to express a very warm sentiment in my heart and to express it very briefly. I have listened with deep pleasure and profound satisfaction to the words of my esteemed colleagues here in commendation of the spirit of the draft constitution which has just been put before us. Just as no people are more anxious than we are to see the League of Nations established, so no people are more gratified than the people of China to see and note the completion of another stage in advance in the movement for the founding of a League of Nations. Representing, as I have the honor to represent, at least one-third of the population represented here in this distinguished assemblage, I believe it is only fitting that I should add a word of satisfaction to those which have already been so eloquently uttered to us; for not only the character of the conditions in this draft, but the spirit permeating all the provisions is of the most inspiring kind to us. We realize there is room for improvement perhaps, but we also realize that we are making a beginning now, and therefore I cannot help expressing the satisfaction of the Chinese Delegation with the spirit underlying this instrument, the spirit of fair-mindedness and friendship, the spirit of concord and conciliation. It is but the natural result of the spirit which has animated the entire membership of the Commission on the League of Nations, and I say this, gentlemen, from my very pleasant experience at the sittings of that Commission, of which I have the honor to be a member. Thanks to [Page 229]the able leadership of President Wilson and also to the mutual cooperation of all members of the Commission, we are now at last in possession of an instrument which, as my distinguished colleague from Japan has already stated, is to be a memorable document in history, a document which will, when finally adopted, serve as a bulwark against international lawlessness and a guarantee of universal peace. Therefore, gentlemen, the rapid and successful completion of the work of the Commission on the League of Nations marks, to my mind, a very distinct milestone on the road upon which mankind has ever been toiling forward from time immemorial, in order to attain the goal of a durable peace. It is my privilege and duty, therefore, to assure the Conference that China will always be ready to cooperate with those who will be members of the League, not only for the organization, but also for the development, of this League of Nations, which will be the greatest institution that mankind will ever have seen.”
Mr. Rustem Haidar (Hedjaz), speaking in French, delivers the following speech:
“I know very well, Gentlemen, that the shortest speeches are the most welcome and I will therefore compress my observations into a few words.
“I have nothing to add to what has been said by the speakers who preceded me; it is not my place to apportion praise to those who guarantee justice to small nations. What I wish to say concerns Article 19 regarding nationalities which till now have been under the domination of the Turks. There is a word in the text which seems to me rather vague—the word ‘Mandate’. What does it mean? We do not exactly know. And yet on the interpretation of what [that] word will depend the future of all the nations which, till today, have been oppressed by tyrants. We, therefore, reserve all our liberty of discussing this text when we come to examine it article by article. For the present I only wish to say that the nations in whose name I speak intend to remain free to choose the Power whose advice they will ask. Their right to decide their fate in the future has been recognized in principle. Very well! But you will allow me to say, Gentlemen, that a secret agreement to dispose of these nations has been prepared about which they have not been consulted. I ask the Assembly whether this state of things ought to exist or not. Seeing that this article has been accepted by all the Powers, I express the wish that the Powers interested in this question should declare on the first opportunity that this agreement concluded without their assent should of full right be pronounced null and void.”
Mr. Hughes (Australia), enquired whether the Delegates would have an opportunity of discussing the text laid before the Conference and on which date that discussion might be held.
The President, Mr. Clemenceau (France), replied that the Report presented and commented on by the President of the United States had been deposited with the Bureau of the Conference for examination and discussion by all the interested Powers. The date on which the discussion could take place would depend on the completion of the preliminary examination of the scheme. The Bureau would lose no time in summoning the Conference as soon as it was in a position to bring the Report up for a discussion.
The Session is adjourned at 18.55 o’clock (6:55 p.m.).
J. C. Grew,
M. P. A. Hankey,
- The draft of the Covenant of the League of Nations which was laid before the Plenary Session of February 14, 1919, does not accompany the Department’s file copy of the American print of Protocol No. 3. The text here given is taken from the annex attached to the British print.↩