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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:

a)
the prevention of international disputes;
b)
disarmament;
c)
securing the freedom of traffic and of the general economic equality of rights;
d)
the protection of national minorities;
e)
the creation of an international Workers’ Charter;
f)
the regulation of the colonial question;
g)
the uniting of existing and future international institutions;
h)
the creation of an International Parliament.

3. The League of Nations shall comprise:

a)
all belligerent states inclusive of those arising during the war;
b)
all neutral states, which were included in the Hague World Arbitration League;
c)
all others if they are admitted by two-thirds of the already existing members.

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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.

II. Constitution

5. The official bodies of the League of Nations shall be:

a)
the Congress of States;
b)
the International Parliament;
c)
the Permanent International Tribunal;
d)
the International Mediation Office;
e)
the International Administrative Bureaux;
f)
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]

a)
changes in the constitution of the League;
b)
the laying down of generally valid international legal principles;
c)
the appointment of new bodies of the League;
d)
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.

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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.

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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:

a)
complaints of private persons against foreign states and heads of states, when the State Tribunals have declared their incompetency.
b)
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.

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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.

V. Disarmament

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.

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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]

a)
the protection of the natives against slavery, alcohol, arms and munition traffic, epidemics, compulsory labour, and forcible expropriation;
b)
promotion of health, education and well-being of the natives, and the securing of the freedom of conscience;
c)
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.

X. Execution

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:

a)
the breaking off of the diplomatic relations by all the other states;
b)
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;
c)
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.

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XI. Costs

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,

[Appendix]

Draft of an International Workers’ Charter

Article I. Freedom of Residence, Right of Combination, Labour Conditions

The contracting parties pledge themselves not to restrict, within their territories, the freedom of residence of workers* by enacting laws forbidding emigration or generally prohibiting immigration. Each party however, reserves to itself the right to supervise or temporarily limit, the immigration of workers for the purpose of safeguarding its people’s health, or during periods of unemployment, or to demand from the immigrant a certain minimum knowledge of reading and writing in the interest of its national culture and with a view to carrying more thoroughly into effect the national system of Labour protection.

Each contracting party shall guarantee the worker’s right of combination by enacting proper legislation for this purpose. Laws or regulations withholding from certain groups of workers the right of combination or the right of defending their common economic interests, particularly the right to a voice whenever wages and conditions of labour are being fixed, shall not be enacted. They shall be abolished wherever they do exist. Foreign workers shall enjoy the same rights as natives in respect of participation and activity in trade union organisations, including the right to strike. All attempts at obstructing the worker’s right of combination shall be liable to prosecution.

All alien workers are entitled to the rate of wages and the conditions of work which have been agreed upon by the workers’ and the employers’ organisations of their trade or, failing such agreements, they shall be entitled to benefit by the rate of wages and the working conditions customary in the locality and in the trade. Contracts made in contravention of this clause shall be declared null and void.

Workers shall not be expelled for their trade union activities and they shall have the right to appeal before a regular court against any expulsion order.

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Article II. Labour Exchanges

All recruiting of workers for foreign countries shall be prohibited and prosecuted, if the conditions offered are incompatible with article one, clause three. Workers engaged in contravention of this clause are to be forbidden to enter the country, all labour contracts made with them shall be declared null and void.

The contracting parties pledge themselves to develop the statistics of the labour market through the organisation of public labour ex-changes and mutually to exchange these statistics, at shortest possible intervals, in order to protect the workers from migrating into countries with slender opportunities for employment.

All private firms, recruiting or transporting emigrants or migratory workers, shall be subject to special supervision.

Article III. Social Insurance

The contracting parties pledge themselves to enact, as far as this has not been done already, for all workers compulsory insurance laws against sickness, accidents, disablement, old age and unemployment as well as an insurance for orphans and motherhood and to further extend their social insurance system to home workers.

Foreign workers during their stay in the country, are to be treated on a footing of equality with the native workers with regard to contributions payable to, and benefits to be received from, the insurance system mentioned in the former clause.

Workers employed temporarily abroad, especially so-called out-of-door workers, and workers employed in transport trades usually working on the territories of several states, shall on principle be subject, in regard to all matters affecting social insurance, to the legislation of the country where the headquarters of their particular firm are situated.

Workers of one of the contracting parties who obtained a title to pensions in the country of another signatory party, shall not lose their claim when leaving this country, provided their own national legislation guarantees equal treatment to members of the other country. Unemployment benefit shall be excluded from this provision. All detailed provisions concerning the payment of benefits and the control of the pensioners, are to be enacted by inter-state agreements. These agreements shall also contain provisions concerning the occupational diseases that shall be treated on the same footing as industrial accidents.

No fees shall be charged for any documents necessary for the purpose of pressing claims on the ground of social insurance laws. The same rule applies to all legal steps to be taken.

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Article IV. Workers’ Protection

The contracting parties shall develop in their respective countries all regulations on general labour hygiene and labour protection in all trades, especially the regulations intended to prevent accidents and diseases. Especially effective regulations shall be issued for all workers employed in dangerous trades, with a view to protect their health. As such trade are to be considered in every case all work in the mines, iron-founding, steel and rolling mills, undertakings in constant operation shops where industrial poisons are manufactured or used, as well as all tunnel work and compressed air work under water.

The contracting parties are to enter as soon as possible, into an agreement concerning the uniform introduction of well-tried protective measures. An international list of trade poisons shall be agreed upon with a view to settle the question what is understood by trade poisons. No poison shall be used in any trade where a less poisonous substitute can be found. The use of white (yellow) phosphorus for the manufacture of matches shall not be permitted.

It shall be the duty of the contracting parties to provide, if this has not been done already, that the regular workinghours in all trades do not exceed eight per day. Night work between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. shall be forbidden by law for females and juveniles and for all establishments which either from their organisation or from technical reasons, are not depending on night work. Care shall further be taken for an uninterrupted weekly rest of at least 32 hours, being granted to all workers from Saturday to Monday, provided that the law does not expressly permit in the public interest this rest to be put off to a weekday. Reserve shifts are to be provided for in all continuous trades in order to ensure the regular weekly and uninterrupted rest of 32 hours, these shifts to be so organised as to permit an entirely free Sunday at least every third week. In countries in which generally or by a certain part of the population, another day of the week is held as the day of rest, the above prescribed rest takes place on that day instead of Sunday.

Female workers, on the days before Sundays and Festivals, shall be employed for four hours only, and not after 12 o’clock noon. In case the nature of the trade requires exceptional treatment, the half-holiday shall be granted on a weekday. Before and after confinement, woman workers must not be employed for ten weeks in all, and at least not for six weeks after the confinement. For equal work woman and male workers shall receive equal pay.

The contracting parties shall fix the age of children to be employed in industrial, commercial, and agricultural wage labour, as well as for leaving school, at the completed fourteenth year, and shall issue [Page 777]regulations as to trade and continuation schools, during the working time, of juvenile workers between 14 and 18 years of age.

Article V. Home Work

All laws and regulations concerning labour protection are to be adapted according to their sense, to home workers. Home work shall be prohibited in all employments which gravely endanger the health of the workers or expose them to poisoning, or which have to do with the manufacture of foodstuffs and luxuries, including their packing. At the outbreak of dangerous contagious diseases, which shall be decided upon by the legislation of the respective States, the owners or possessors or managers of the dwellings in which home work is done, must give notice to the authorities. If in consequence of the outbreak of a contagious disease home work is prohibited in such a dwelling, the home workers concerned shall be compensated for their loss of employment.

The health of the minors employed in home work shall be under medical inspection. Those who pass on home work to others must have a register of workers, and the wage rolls must always be open for inspection.

The minimum wages for home workers are to be fixed by wage boards, consisting of an equal number of representatives of employers and workers, whose awards shall have legal force. After the regular working time no work shall be given out to woman workers and juveniles to perform outside the working place. This applies also to work given out for the account of third persons.

Article VI. Factory Inspection

The execution of Labour legislation (Article 4) is to be controlled by a Labour inspection exercised by persons of official position, with the co-operation of the trade organisations of the workmen. These officials are to be employed in a sufficient number for the purpose of efficient inspection of all working establishments, and are to be chosen among experts, particularly among the workers. Their independence and the execution of the orders which they think necessary, shall be secured by Jaw. The inspectors, for purpose of comparison, shall, in a form internationally agreed upon, report annually.

The national authorities, in the care and legal protection of the alien workers, shall give assistance to the Consular representatives of the country of those workers.

Employers who employ more than four alien working people are legally bound to publish in the mother tongue of these workmen all announcements destined for the working people of the establishment, [Page 778]and to have these workmen instructed in the language of the country for at least two hours on [of?] the week during their working-time, until they are able to understand the official publications and workshop regulations in the language of the country. The cost of instruction is to be borne by the employers.

Article VII. International Execution of the Labour Laws

The contracting parties will take the proper steps to obtain, in the most effective manner, an international settlement of the legal conditions of the workers. There shall likewise be created, with the co-operation of the seamen’s organisations, an international seamen’s legislation and an international seamen’s protection. The contracting parties will take part in international conferences which have for their object to adapt, as far as possible, the labour legislation of the various countries to one another, taking hereby in consideration their special characteristics, and to secure, in the domain of social legislation, to the working people of the concerned countries, a treatment which offers them equivalent advantages. The conferences shall take place as need arises, at least, however, once in five years. Each country has one vote; resolutions are only binding if carried by a majority of four-fifths of the voting countries.

For the preparation of the work of the conference and for the supervision of the proper execution of the conference resolutions, as well as for giving information on social reform questions, there shall be instituted at Berne, with the consent of the Swiss Government, a permanent committee who will come together at the latest six months after the ratification of this Treaty. Each contracting power, as well as the International Federation of Trade Unions and the International Labour Office at Basel, may each send a delegate to that committee; the adhesion of representatives of other organisations is reserved. The committee, in the carrying out of their duties, shall be in constant touch with the International Labour Office at Basel and as far as possible, make use of its institutions. It is assumed that the International Labour Office will continue its work to the same extent as hitherto and will include social insurance. Under this condition the contracting powers will as far as possible promote its work, particularly by financial assistance.

Article VIII. Adhesion of Other Countries

Countries which have not signed this Treaty, may declare in writing their adhesion to the provisions of Articles 1 to 7; the written application is to be sent to the Swiss Federal Council with the request to transmit it to each of the contracting parties.

  1. 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.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1907, pt 2, p. 1181.
  3. 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.]