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2° Special clauses relating to the Elbe, the Oder and the Niemen (Art. 340 to 345)

Article 340.

The Elbe (Labe) shall be placed under the administration of an International Commission which shall comprise:

  • 4 representatives of the German States bordering on the river;
  • 2 representatives of the Czecho-Slovak State;
  • 1 representative of Great Britain;
  • 1 representative of France;
  • 1 representative of Italy;
  • 1 representative of Belgium.

Whatever be the number of members present, each delegation shall have the right to record a number of votes equal to the number of representatives allotted to it.

[Page 661]

If certain of these representatives cannot be appointed at the time of the coming into force of the present Treaty, the decisions of the Commission shall nevertheless be valid.

Note to XII, 340

The commission met at Baden-Baden on March 15, 1920 and administered the waterway until the convention instituting a statute of navigation of the Elbe was signed at Dresden, February 22, 1922 and entered into force on October 1, 1923 (26 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 219). The international system of the Elbe comprised the Elbe from the open sea to its confluence with the Vltava (Moldau), and the Vltava to Prague, Czechoslovakia. Navigation was open without restrictions to the craft of all nations complying with the stipulations of the convention. “The nationals, goods and flags of all nations shall be treated in all respects on a footing of complete equality.” The commission, each member of which had a vote, reached decisions by a majority. It was charged with securing freedom of navigation, the maintenance and the improvement of the navigable channel, and with deciding complaints arising out of the application of the convention.

A supplementary convention signed at Prague, January 27, 1923 entered into force on April 1, 1924. It set up tribunals to deal with breaches of the police regulations and to decide disputes relative to the incidents of navigation.

Article 341.

The Oder (Odra) shall be placed under the administration of an International Commission, which shall comprise:

  • 1 representative of Poland;
  • 3 representatives of Prussia;
  • 1 representative of the Czecho-Slovak State;
  • 1 representative of Great Britain;
  • 1 representative of France;
  • 1 representative of Denmark;
  • 1 representative of Sweden.

If certain of these representatives cannot be appointed at the time of the coming into force of the present Treaty, the decisions of the Commission shall nevertheless be valid.

Text of May 7:

The Oder (Odra) shall be placed under the administration of an International Commission, which shall comprise: [Page 662]

  • 1 representative of Poland:
  • 1 representative of Prussia;
  • 1 representative of the Tchecko-Slovak State;
  • 1 representative of Great Britain;
  • 1 representative of France;
  • 1 representative of Denmark;
  • 1 representative of Sweden.

If certain of these representatives cannot be appointed at the time of the coming into force of the present Treaty, the decisions of the Commission shall nevertheless be valid.

Note to XII, 341

The International Commission of the Oder, set up under article 341 at Baden-Baden on March 15, 1920, encountered difficulty in fixing the limits of this international river system. It certified the difficulty to the Organization for Communications and Transit of the League of Nations by a resolution of January 29, 1924. The Organization’s Committee of Inquiry having made suggestions for a solution which was not accepted by Germany and Poland, the Governments of the United Kingdom, Czechoslovak Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, and Sweden of the one part and Poland of the other part submitted their question to the Permanent Court of International Justice by the special agreement concluded at London on October 30, 1928. The Court, by 9 votes to 3, on September 10, 1929 gave a judgment (Series A/23) that “under the provisions of the treaty of Versailles, the jurisdiction of the International Commission of the Oder extends to the sections of the Warthe (Warta) and Netze (Noteć) which are situated in Polish territory”, and that the principle laid down in article 331 of that treaty was to be adopted by the parties in determining the upstream limits of the commission’s jurisdiction. The commission did not succeed in producing a definitive statute for the Oder before Germany’s unilateral repudiation of its authority in 1936.

Article 342.

On a request being made to the League of Nations by any riparian State, the Niemen (Russstrom-Memel-Niemen) shall be placed under the administration of an International Commission, which shall comprise one representative of each riparian State, and three representatives of other States specified by the League of Nations.

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Note to XII, 342

The Conference of Ambassadors on February 24, 1921 decided, in connection with the disposition of Memel (see art. 99), that only a provisional regime should be established for the Niemen which, however, should assure the free transit of lumber destined for Memel.

No commission was established for the Niemen, though a certain type of international regime was set up by the Memel convention of May 8, 1924 (29 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 86) between Lithuania and states represented on the Conference of Ambassadors. Also applicable to the Niemen was the Barcelona convention on the regime of navigable waterways of international concern of April 20, 1921 (7 ibid., p. 35). The International Committee for Communications and Transit adopted a resolution at its third session in 1922 concerning freedom of navigation on the Niemen (League of Nations Doc. A.41. 1922. viii). The committee on July 30, 1925 adopted a report which called for modification of the regulations on the floating of timber on the Niemen—the principal international use of the river—which had been promulgated by the Lithuanian Government (League of Nations, Official Journal, 1925, p. 1223).

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

Article 343.

The International Commissions referred to in Articles 340 and 341 shall meet within three months of the date of the coming into force of the present Treaty. The International Commission referred to in Article 342 shall meet within three months from the date of the request made by a riparian State. Each of these Commissions shall proceed immediately to prepare a project for the revision of the existing international agreements and regulations, drawn up in conformity with the General Convention referred to in Article 338, should such Convention have been already concluded. In the absence of such Convention, the project for revision shall be in conformity with the principles of Articles 332 to 337 above.

Article 344.

The projects referred to in the preceding Article shall, inter alia:

(a)
designate the headquarters of the International Commission, and prescribe the manner in which its President is to be nominated;
(b)
specify the extent of the Commission’s powers, particularly in regard to the execution of works of maintenance, control, and improvement on the river system, the financial régime, the fixing and collection of charges, and regulations for navigation;
(c)
define the sections of the river or its tributaries to which the international régime shall be applied.

Article 345.

The international agreements and regulations at present governing the navigation of the Elbe (Labe), the Oder (Odra), and the Niemen (Russstrom-Memel-Niemen) shall be provisionally maintained in force until the ratification of the above-mentioned projects. Nevertheless, in all cases where such agreements and regulations in force are in conflict with the provisions of Articles 332 to 337 above, or of the General Convention to be concluded, the latter provisions shall prevail.

Note to XII, 345

The German-Czechoslovak boundary at the Oder was regulated by a treaty signed at Prague March 22, 1928 and in force July 17, 1929 (Reichsgesetzblatt, 1929, ii, 7).