1° Géneral clauses (Art. 331 to 339)

Article 331.

The following rivers are declared international:

  • the Elbe (Labe) from its confluence with the Vltava (Moldau), and the Vltava (Moldau) from Prague;
  • the Oder (Odra) from its confluence with the Oppa;
  • the Niemen (Russstrom-Memel-Niemen) from Grodno;
  • the Danube from Ulm;

and all navigable parts of these river systems which naturally provide more than one State with access to the sea, with or without transhipment from one vessel to another; together with lateral canals and channels constructed either to duplicate or to improve [Page 656] naturally navigable sections of the specified river systems, or to connect two naturally navigable sections of the same river.

The same shall apply to the Rhine-Danube navigable waterway, should such a waterway be constructed under the conditions laid down in Article 353.

Article 332.

On the waterways declared to be international in the preceding Article, the nationals, property and flags of all Powers shall be treated on a footing of perfect equality, no distinction being made to the detriment of the nationals, property or flag of any Power between them and the nationals, property or flag of the riparian State itself or of the most favoured nation.

Nevertheless, German vessels shall not be entitled to carry passengers or goods by regular services between the ports of any Allied or Associated Power, without special authority from such Power.

Article 333.

Where such charges are not precluded by any existing conventions, charges varying on different sections of a river may be levied on vessels using the navigable channels or their approaches, provided that they are intended solely to cover equitably the cost of maintaining in a navigable condition, or of improving, the river and its approaches, or to meet expenditure incurred in the interests of navigation. The schedule of such charges shall be calculated on the basis of such expenditure and shall be posted up in the ports. These charges shall be levied in such a manner as to render any detailed examination of cargoes unnecessary, except in cases of suspected fraud or contravention.

Article 334.

The transit of vessels, passengers and goods on these waterways shall be effected in accordance with the general conditions prescribed for transit in Section I above.

When the two banks of an international river are within the same State goods in transit may be placed under seal or in the custody of customs agents. When the river forms a frontier goods and passengers in transit shall be exempt from all customs formalities; the loading and unloading of goods, and the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, shall only take place in the ports specified by the riparian State.

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Article 335.

No dues of any kind other than those provided for in the present Part shall be levied along the course or at the mouth of these rivers.

This provision shall not prevent the fixing by the riparian States of customs, local octroi or consumption duties, or the creation of reasonable and uniform charges levied in the ports, in accordance with public tariffs, for the use of cranes, elevators, quays, warehouses, etc.

Article 336.

In default of any special organisation for carrying out the works connected with the upkeep and improvement of the international portion of a navigable system, each riparian State shall be bound to take suitable measures to remove any obstacle or danger to navigation and to ensure the maintenance of good conditions of navigation.

If a State neglects to comply with this obligation any riparian State, or any State represented on the International Commission, if there is one, may appeal to the tribunal instituted for this purpose by the League of Nations.

Note to XII, 336

The Organization for Communications and Transit of the League of Nations became the tribunal for the consideration of appeals; for its establishment see article 379.

Article 337.

The same procedure shall be followed in the case of a riparian State undertaking any works of a nature to impede navigation in the international section. The tribunal mentioned in the preceding Article shall be entitled to enforce the suspension or suppression of such works, making due allowance in its decisions for all rights in connection with irrigation, water-power, fisheries, and other national interests, which, with the consent of all the riparian States or of all the States represented on the International Commission, if there is one, shall be given priority over the requirements of navigation.

Appeal to the tribunal of the League of Nations does not require the suspension of the works.

Article 338.

The régime set out in Articles 332 to 337 above shall be superseded by one to be laid down in a General Convention drawn up by the [Page 658] Allied and Associated Powers, and approved by the League of Nations, relating to the waterways recognised in such Convention as having an international character. This Convention shall apply in particular to the whole or part of the above-mentioned river systems of the Elbe (Labe), the Oder (Odra), the Niemen (Russstrom-Memel-Niemen), and the Danube, and such other parts of these river systems as may be covered by a general definition.

Germany undertakes, in accordance with the provisions of Article 379, to adhere to the said General Convention as well as to all projects prepared in accordance with Article 343 below for the revision of existing international agreements and regulations.

Note to XII, 338

The convention and statute on the regime of waterways of international concern were prepared by the Organization for Communications and Transit and were concluded at the first general conference of the organization on April 20, 1921.

For the establishment of the Organization for Communications and Transit of the League of Nations, see article 379.

Article 339.

Germany shall cede to the Allied and Associated Powers concerned, within a maximum period of three months from the date on which notification shall be given her, a proportion of the tugs and vessels remaining registered in the ports of the river systems referred to in Article 331 after the deduction of those surrendered by way of restitution or reparation. Germany shall in the same way cede material of all kinds necessary to the Allied and Associated Powers concerned for the utilisation of those river systems.

The number of the tugs and boats, and the amount of the material so ceded, and their distribution, shall be determined by an arbitrator or arbitrators nominated by the United States of America, due regard being had to the legitimate needs of the parties concerned, and particularly to the shipping traffic during the five years preceding the war.

All craft so ceded shall be provided with their fittings and gear, shall be in a good state of repair and in condition to carry goods, and shall be selected from among those most recently built.

The cessions provided for in the present Article shall entail a credit of which the total amount, settled in a lump sum by the arbitrator or arbitrators, shall not in any case exceed the value of the capital expended in the initial establishment of the material ceded, [Page 659] and shall be set off against the total sums due from Germany; in consequence, the indemnification of the proprietors shall be a matter for Germany to deal with.

Note to XII, 339

On March 9, 1920 the president of the peace conference drew up the following declaration for transmission to the Government of the United States (Foreign Relations, 1920, ii, 263):

“With a view to expediting the execution of certain duties entrusted to an arbitrator or arbitrators to be nominated by the United States of America by paragraph 6 of annex 3 of part 8 and articles 339 and 357 of the Treaty of Versailles and by paragraph 5 of annex 3 of part 8 and article 300 of the Treaty of Saint Germain and by article 228 of the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine, the British, French, Italian, Belgian, Greek, Polish, Roumanian, Serb-Croat-Slovene and Czecho-Slovak Governments have the honor to request that the Government of the United States should immediately nominate the arbitrator or arbitrators independently of the position of the United States as a signatory of the treaties of peace, it being understood that no part of the expenses of the execution of these provisions of the treaties will be borne by the Government of the United States.”

In response to this request the President appointed Walker D. Hines on April 30.

A German protest was made to this action, and the United States correctly replied (ibid., p. 266) that Mr. Hines would function in no manner as a representative of the United States. In this instance, the United States had simply complied with a request to designate an appropriate person for a specific task, but the note made a point of discussing the general question of American participation in bodies growing out of the treaty, which was said to be “largely dictated by the desire for sane solutions of various questions”. To the German objection that the United States had not ratified the treaty, the note asserted “that its position as one of the principal Allied and Associated Powers and its fundamental interest in solution of problems arising out of war gives the right to official or unofficial representation of the United States on all administrative bodies until ratification of Peace Treaty or other arrangement.”

On September 8, the Conference of Ambassadors reiterated to Germany the right of the Allies to make the appointment, and Germany thereupon decided not to pursue its objection further. However, it had “not altered its standpoint that the Government [Page 660] of the United States cannot be called upon to participate as arbitrator in the execution of the treaty as long as the latter has not ratified the treaty and consequently still is in a state of war with Germany” (ibid., p. 273).

The award of the arbitrator of June 14, 1921 decided that under article 339 Germany must deliver to Czechoslovakia barges, tugs, motor merchant boats and small equipment from the ports of the Elbe of the total value of 8,350,000 gold marks. Deliveries were to be completed by January 1, 1922; by January 1, 1923 they were 92 per cent completed.

The award of the arbitrator of August 2, 1921 fixed Germany’s share in the deliveries of the Danube fleet to be made to Czechoslovakia at 5,083 tons in barges, credited at 338,490 gold marks. Deliveries were completed by December 31, 1922.

The award of the arbitrator of July 6, 1922 decided that Germany must deliver from the Oder to Czechoslovakia 35,688 tons in barges and 5,669 horsepower in tugs, both amounting to 1,833,000 gold marks, and to Poland 39,735 tons in barges and 4,903 horsepower in tugs, together with a site for a shipyard, amounting in all to 2, 195,000 gold marks. Deliveries were made after December 31, 1922.

The final adjusted credits for German river craft delivered to Czechoslovakia, in gold marks, were: on the Danube, 338,490; on the Elbe, 8,141,750; on the Oder, 1,776,507.