Proposals of the German Government for the establishment of a League of Nations1
I. Foundation Principles
1. The League of Nations is constituted for the purpose of founding a permanent peace between its members by obligatory settlement of international differences. It is to be based upon the moral power of right and shall serve as an international community working for the intellectual and material advancement of mankind.
It is to be established for all time and shall form a unity for the purpose of a common defence against all opposing powers from without.
The members guarantee to each other their respective territorial possessions and shall mutually refrain from interfering with the internal political affairs.
2. Especial aims of the League of Nations shall be:
- the prevention of international disputes;
- securing the freedom of traffic and of the general economic equality of rights;
- the protection of national minorities;
- the creation of an international Workers’ Charter;
- the regulation of the colonial question;
- the uniting of existing and future international institutions;
- the creation of an International Parliament.
3. The League of Nations shall comprise:
- all belligerent states inclusive of those arising during the war;
- all neutral states, which were included in the Hague World Arbitration League;
- all others if they are admitted by two-thirds of the already existing members.
The entrance into the League of Nations is held in reserve to the Holy See.
4. The members shall pledge themselves to conclude no separate treaty contrary to the aims of the League, nor to enter into any secret agreement of any kind whatsoever. Existing treaties of such a kind shall be annulled.
Secret treaties shall be null and void.
5. The official bodies of the League of Nations shall be:
- the Congress of States;
- the International Parliament;
- the Permanent International Tribunal;
- the International Mediation Office;
- the International Administrative Bureaux;
- the Chancery.
a. the congress of states
6. The Congress of States is the assembly of the representatives of the states belonging to the League of Nations. Each state shall have from one to three representatives; the representatives of any state however shall only vote as a unit.
7. The congress shall meet at least once every three years.
8. The congress shall carry on the business of the League of Nations so far as it is not transferred to other official bodies; it shall elect at its first meeting a permanent committee, which is to take charge of the business in the intervals.
9. The resolutions of the congress, so far as the treaty does not determine otherwise, shall be passed by a majority of two-thirds of the States represented, for the rest the congress regulates for itself its own order of business.
b. the international parliament
10. The first International Parliament shall be composed of representatives of the respective parliaments of the states in the League of Nations. Each single parliament shall elect for every million of inhabitants of its state one representative; but no parliament shall send more than ten representatives.
11. The International Parliament with consent of the Congress of States shall decide on the later composition of the International Parliament.
12. The consent of the International Parliament shall be required for: [Page 767]
- changes in the constitution of the League;
- the laying down of generally valid international legal principles;
- the appointment of new bodies of the League;
- the establishing of the budget of the League.
In these matters the International Parliament shall at the same time have the initiative.
13. The International Parliament shall meet at the same time as the Congress of States. For the rest it shall regulate for itself its own method of business.
c. the permanent international tribunal
14. The Permanent International Tribunal shall be elected by the Congress of States for the period of nine years, as follows:
Each state shall propose at least one and at the most four persons who are suitable for and ready to accept the office of judge.
At least one of the persons proposed must not be of the nationality of the state which proposes his election.
From the total list of the proposed each state shall nominate fifteen persons; the fifteen persons who receive the most votes shall be elected as judges.
Upon the retirement of judges, their places shall be taken by those persons who have received the most votes after the fifteen who had been elected, and this in the order of the number of votes obtained.
15. The Tribunal shall give its decisions through the representation of three members of whom each party shall choose one. The Tribunal represented by all its members shall appoint the President in case the parties do not agree upon his nomination.
d. the international mediation office
16. Each state shall appoint for the International Mediation Office four electors who possess its confidence. The electors shall meet in a session and elect by majority vote fifteen members of the Mediation Office as well as ten substitutes, whose order of succession shall be determined at the election.
17. The Mediation Office shall give its decisions through the representation of five members, of whom each party shall choose two. The President is to be appointed, in case the parties do not agree upon his election, by the Mediation Office sitting in full session.
18. The members of the Mediation Office shall neither stand in a relation of active service to their home country nor be at same time members of another official body of the League of Nations.
They have to reside at the seat of the League of Nations.[Page 768]
e. the international administrative bureaux
19. The League of Nations shall further all efforts for the uniting of the common interests of the nations and shall work for the further development of already existing, and the creation of new, international institutions. This applies especially to the domains of law, economics and finance.
20. The existing unions shall be joined to the League of Nations as far as possible.
21. All international bureaux which have been established previously by collective treaties shall, if the contracting parties are willing, be subject to the control of the League.
22. All international bureaux which may be established in future shall be subject to the supervision of the League.
f. the chancery of the league
23. The officials of the Chancery shall be appointed by the Permanent Committee of the Congress of States and are placed under its supervision.
24. The Chancery shall form the common bureau of the official bodies of the League of Nations. Its business order shall be decided upon by the Permanent Committee of the Congress of States.
25. The Chancery shall publish in its official organ all resolutions and communications of the official bodies of the League of Nations. The members of the League of Nations shall be obliged to publish in their official organs in the original text and in the language of the country, the resolutions and communications of the Congress of States and of the International Mediation Bureau, and to submit them to their legislative bodies.
26. The members of the League of Nations shall bind themselves to hand over all international treaties, concluded by them, to the Chancery for publication in the organ of the League of Nations.
g. position of the officials of the league
27. All members of the body of international authorities and of the International Parliament with the exception of those who themselves belong to the state where they reside, shall enjoy there the privileges and immunities of diplomats.
28. Members of the International Parliament shall enjoy in the state to which they belong the same rights as the members of parliament of this state.[Page 769]
III. Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
29. All difficulties between states which could not be settled by diplomacy, and for which a special mode of arbitration has not been agreed upon, shall either be settled by the Permanent International Tribunal or by the International Mediation Bureau.
30. The International Tribunal shall be the regular official body for the decision of legal disputes between states. Every member of the League of Nations shall have the right to bring here a complaint which must be answered by the opposite party. The decisions are issued in the name of the League of Nations.
The same shall apply to the proceedings before the Mediation Office.
31. Besides the jurisdiction over disputes between states, the International Tribunal shall be entitled to decide on:
- complaints of private persons against foreign states and heads of states, when the State Tribunals have declared their incompetency.
- disputes between subjects of different states which are members of the League of Nations, so far as the interpretation of state treaties forms the object of the dispute.
32. The states concerned reserve to themselves the right of concluding arbitration treaties for single cases of dispute or for certain kinds of controversies. This right however, shall not be granted to them when the interpretation of general written rules of international law, or the interpretation of the ordinances of the League of Nations are concerned.
33. If the defendant in a conflict raises the objection before the International Tribunal that the question concerns merely a conflict of interests or a legal matter of prevailing political significance, the Tribunal must first of all decide on the merits of this objection. Should this objection be well founded, it shall refer the conflict for settlement to the Mediation Office.
If the conflict is brought before the Mediation Office, and it is objected that a purely legal question is concerned, the Mediation Office shall transfer the matter first to the International Tribunal which shall decide whether the conflict shall be referred back to the Mediation Office or remain with the Tribunal.
34. The Tribunal shall draft an order of procedure based upon the Hague Convention of October 18th, 1907 concerning the pacific settlement of international disputes;2 this procedure shall require for its efficiency the consent of the Congress of States.[Page 770]
The procedure before the Mediation Office shall be decided on by this body.
The Tribunal as well as the Mediation Office shall be authorised to settle by a provisional arrangement the relations arising from the dispute for the duration of the proceedings.
35. The decision of the tribunal is passed according to international agreements, international customary law and according to the general principles of law and equity.
36. The decision of the Tribunal or of the Mediation Office shall demand of the state in question to carry out its contents in good faith.
IV. Prevention of International Disputes
37. If the Mediation Office shall establish the fact that a tension has arisen in the relations between individual states of the League of Nations, it can offer its services of mediation to the states concerned. These shall then be obliged to discuss the matter before the Mediation Office and to offer to the same the basis for a proposal which will tend towards a settlement of the question.
38. Every state belonging to the League of Nations shall be under obligation to suppress through its legislative and administrative authorities the calumniations of another nation by speech, writing or illustration. On violation of this duty, the injured state shall have the right to call for a decision of the International Tribunal.
39. The states of the League of Nations shall reciprocally oblige themselves to rectify at any time, such actual assertions which have been published by the press of one state to the disadvantage of another. This rectification being refused, the International Tribunal shall decide.
40. The members of the League of Nations shall so limit their armaments on land and in the air that only such forces will be maintained by them which are necessary for the safety of the country.
They shall limit their armament at sea to the forces which are necessary for the defence of their coasts.
41. The total expenditure for armament purposes according to estimates and expenditures, as well as the figures giving the actual number of troops and the amount of war supplies of all kinds, especially of war ships shall annually be handed in to the chancery of the League and by it to the organ of the League of Nations for the purpose of publication.
42. For the carrying through of the disarmament, a special agreement shall be made which shall also provide for the international control over the adherence to these arrangements.[Page 771]
The agreement shall form an essential part of the constitution of the League of Nations.
VI. Freedom of Traffic
43. The dominion over the sea shall be placed into the hands of the League of Nations. The League shall exert its powers through an International Sea Police, the organisation of which shall be decided upon by a special agreement.
The executive means necessary for the policing of the sea shall be divided by the agreement between the various maritime states of the League of Nations.
No other armed vessels except those of the sea police shall navigate the sea.
44. The straits and canals necessary for the international sea traffic shall be open to the ships of all states belonging to the League of Nations.
45. The states of the League of Nations shall not treat the maritime and inland navigation of any other member state less favourably than their own, or that of the most-favoured nation. This particularly applies to the utilisation of the arrangements made for the supply of coal and other necessaries for the ships. Coastal navigation shall be regulated by a separate agreement. With regard to the sea-worthiness of ships and the arrangements on board, the laws of the state under whose flag the ship is sailing, shall be recognised until a settlement has been arrived at by the League of Nations.
46. The air shall be free for aeronautic traffic to all member states alike. In order to carry out this principle, a separate agreement shall be arrived at, which, among other things, shall regulate the question of forced landing on the territory of the state flown over, and of securities for the payment of duty.
47. No member state shall be restricted in the freedom of communication by cable or wireless.
48. The legal position of the subjects of one member state in the territory of another with regard to personal liberty, liberty of conscience, the rights of residence and settling, as well as judicial protection shall be settled by a separate agreement on the basis of the greatest possible equality with the native residents.
49. Concerning the practice of commerce, trade, and agriculture, the subjects of one member state shall be in a position of equality with the native residents, particularly also in respect to the imposts incumbent thereto.
50. The member states of the League of Nations shall not participate—directly or indirectly—in any measures taken with the object of [Page 772]continuing or resuming economic war. Forcible measures on the part of the League of Nations shall be reserved to that body.
51. All kinds of goods coming from, or directed to, the territory of a state in the League of Nations, shall be free from all transit duties in the territories of the member states.
52. The mutual traffic between member states shall not be restricted by import, export or transit prohibitions, if it is not necessary for reasons of public safety, or on account of the Public Health Office, or for the carrying through of internal economic legislation.
53. The several member states are at liberty to settle, according to their special requirements, their mutual economic relations by means of special agreements also in respect to relations other than those enumerated above.
They recognise the creation of an International Commercial Treaty to be the aim of their endeavours.
VII. Protection of National Minorities
54. The national minorities in the several member states shall be guaranteed their national individuality, particularly with regard to language, school, church, art, science, and public press. The carrying through of this principle shall be decided upon by a separate agreement, which has in the first line to determine the manner in which the right of the minorities can be asserted before the official bodies of the League of Nations.
VIII. Labour Law
55. One of the chief objects of the League of Nations is to secure to the workers of all member states an existence in accordance with human dignity and the enjoyment of their professional activities. For this purpose a special agreement, given in the appendix, shall settle for the workers the questions of freedom of movement, the right of combining, the position of equality for natives and aliens in respect to conditions of work, exchange of labour, social insurance, protection of the working classes, home industries, supervision of labour, and the international carrying through and the development of these principles.
56. An international Labour Bureau shall be established in the chancery of the League with the object of supervising and further developing the Labour Law.
IX. The Colonies
57. The League of Nations shall issue international regulations for the administration of colonies, not possessing the right of self-government, on the following subjects: [Page 773]
- the protection of the natives against slavery, alcohol, arms and munition traffic, epidemics, compulsory labour, and forcible expropriation;
- promotion of health, education and well-being of the natives, and the securing of the freedom of conscience;
- securing peace by the neutralisation of the colonial territories and by the prohibition of militarisation.
58. The recognised religious communities in the states of the League of Nations shall be guaranteed the free practice of their confessions and of missionary work in all the colonies.
59. The subjects of all member states shall be guaranteed the freedom of economic activity, taking into consideration the aforesaid general regulations on the freedom of traffic in every colony.
60. For the carrying through and supervision of the above regulations an International Colonial Office shall be established. In every colony, the mandatories of the League of Nations shall be obliged to see to the carrying into effect of the above regulations.
61. The fate of territories of a colonial character which are not connected, directly or indirectly, with the League of Nations shall be decided upon in favour of a member by a verdict of the League of Nations only.
62. If a state of the League of Nations refuses to carry out the decisions, resolutions or orders of any one official body authorised by the League of Nations or in any other way violates a provision of the constitution of the League, the Mediation Office in its full sitting of fifteen members shall come to a decision about compulsory execution.
63. Execution may in particular consist in:
- the breaking off of the diplomatic relations by all the other states;
- the limitation of, or breaking off, of economic relations, especially by import and export prohibitions, unequal customs treatment, cutting off of the traffic in goods, persons, the stoppage of the transmission of news, confiscation of ships;
- military measures which are enjoined upon the injured state alone or in connection with other states.
64. Every state shall have the right, upon an attack being made upon its territory, to make use not only of the legal means offered by the League of Nations, but also to take immediate steps in self-defence.
65. All costs and damages which result to the members of the League of Nations individually or jointly, from the measures taken for the execution of their orders, shall be paid by the state which breaks the peace.[Page 774]
66. The total costs of the League of Nations shall be provided for by the members according to a fixed standard which is to be established by the Congress of States in accordance to the standard fixed by the international postal union,
- Filed under Paris Peace Conf. 185.111/289; this document was transmitted to the Peace Conference under covering letter from the head of the German delegation, May 9, 1919, filed under Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/8. For text of the German letter of May 9 and the Allied preliminary reply of May 10, see appendix to CF–8, vol. v, p. 563; for the Allied reply of May 22, see appendix II to CF–20A, ibid., p. 767.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1907, pt 2, p. 1181.↩
- The term “worker” in the meaning of this amendment includes all male and female workers as well as all categories of employees and officials. [Footnote in the original.]↩