Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1920, Volume I
Report of Subcommittee on Universal Communications Union and Telegraph and Radio-Telegraph Conventions
Hon. Norman H.
President of the Preliminary Conference on Electrical Communications.
The Subcommittee on Universal Communications Union and Telegraph and Radio-Telegraph Conventions begs to report that it has held 21 meetings, and that it has considered the draft convention and a portion of the draft regulations submitted by the British delegation. It recommends that the annexed revised draft convention and regulations should be circulated to the Governments of the Powers invited to take part in the forthcoming world conference as the proposals of [Page 149] the present preliminary conference. It should be made clear, however, that the regulations have only been considered so far as they relate to the following points, namely:
[Here follows the list of points printed in the preface to the draft convention, infra.]
It should be understood that the Powers which have taken part in the present conference reserve the right to propose further modifications. The regulations relating to procedure and the working of apparatus were only considered in a general way by a subcommittee, and all the delegations especially reserved their right to suggest modifications on that subject.
The subcommittee unanimously agreed to the following regulation, which it recommends for adoption by the conference:
The delegates to the international conference, meeting at Washington, in view of the growing practice of sending news by radio, suggest that their own and other Governments should consider how far the existing law of copyright prevents the use of such news by persons to whom it is not addressed, and how far any modification of such law may be necessary to meet such cases.
Draft Convention and Regulations of the Universal Electrical Communications Union 26
The following resolution was adopted at Paris by the five Principal Allied and Associated Powers:
“The Principal Allied and Associated Powers shall, as soon as possible, arrange for the convoking of an International Congress to consider all international aspects of communication by land telegraphs, cables, or wireless telegraphy, and to make recommendations to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers with a view to providing the entire world with adequate facilities of this nature on a fair and equitable basis.”
A Conference preliminary to such an International Conference, and composed of representatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, convened at Washington on the 8th of October, 1920. Among the subjects which it considered in connection with the foregoing Resolution was a proposal for the amalgamation of the Telegraph and Radiotelegraph Conventions and Regulations. This proposal was put forward with the object of simplifying communications [Page 150] by bringing all methods of electrical transmission as far as practicable under the same rules.
The Preliminary Conference considered it desirable that a Universal Electrical Communications Union should be formed; and they decided that the following draft of a Convention and Regulations, covering both telegraph and radiotelegraph communications, should be submitted for the consideration of the forthcoming World Conference on Electrical Communications. The draft Convention has been fully considered by the Preliminary Conference, but the Regulations have only been considered so far as they relate to the following points:
- Address and Routing Instructions (Reg. IV (9) and (12) and XXIII (2)).
- Transmission of Filing Time (Reg. VIII (2)).
- Grouped and Cipher Language (Reg. IX (3, 4, 5, 6, and 7)).
- Collection of Chargés (Reg. XI (3) and (4)).
- Order of Transmission (Reg. XV).
- Deferred Telegrams (Reg. XXX).
- Urgent Telegrams (Reg. XXXI).
- Multiple Telegrams (Reg. XXXIX).
- Press Telegrams (Reg. XLIII, XLIV, XLV, and XLVI).
- Refunds (Reg. XLIX (1) (c) and (h)).
- Accounts (Reg. LII, LIV, and CXI).
- Central Bureau (Reg. LVIII and LIX, (1) and (4)).
- International Technical Committee (Reg. LXI).
- Adhesions (Reg. LXIV and LXV).
- Tariffs (Reg. LXX, LXXI, and CII).
- Classification of Radiotelegraph Services (Reg. LXXIX).
- Classification of Radio Transmitting Stations (Reg. LXXXII).
- Spacing Waves (Reg. LXXXII).
- Distribution and Use of Wave Lengths (Reg. LXXXIII and Appendices 1 and 2).
- Operators’ Certificates (Reg. LXXXIV).
- Radio Interference (Reg. LXXXIX).
- Reporting of Infractions of Regulations (Reg. XC).
- Publication of Information (Reg. XCI and XCIII).
- Call Signs (Reg. XCII).
- Conditions to be fulfilled by Mobile Stations (Reg. XCVI).
- Use of 600 Meter Wave Length (Reg. XCVII).
- Alarm Signal (Reg. XCIX and Appendix 6).
- Hours of Service (Reg. C).
- Safety of Life Messages (Reg. CII).
- Service of Mobile Stations (Reg. CV).
- Special Operations (Reg. CX).
- Direction Finding and Radio Beacon Stations (Reg. CX).
The Powers which took part in the Preliminary Conference reserve the right to propose further modifications. In particular they wish attention to be called to the fact that the Draft Regulations relating to procedure and the working of apparatus were only [Page 151] considered in a general way by a subcommittee, and that all the Delegations at the Preliminary Conference especially reserve the right to propose modifications relating to these subjects.
At the second plenary meeting of the Conference when the report of the subcommittee on Universal Communications Union and Telegraph and Radio Conventions was adopted, the following reservation was made on behalf of the Canadian representatives:
“I should like to add that the Canadian representatives wish to make a somewhat similar reservation [i.e., a, similar to the American reservation],27 and especially they felt unable at present to bind themselves to accept a convention relating to ordinary telegraphy, although they undertook that the question should be fully and sympathetically considered by their Government.”
At the same meeting the following reservation was made on behalf of the American Delegation:
“The American Delegation takes this occasion to again call attention to the fact that telegraphs, cables, and radio stations in the United States are largely owned and operated by private companies; that the United States is not a signatory party to the International Telegraph Convention, but is a signatory to the International Radiotelegraph Convention; that the American Delegation has participated only conditionally in the discussion relating to these conventions; and that should a convention such as the proposed Universal Electrical Communications Union be submitted to the powers for ratification, the United States probably could only adhere, if at all, through a separate protocol. It is the understanding of the American Delegation that such conditional adherence made necessary by private ownership of communication facilities would be agreeable to other governments provided the terms of the protocol are satisfactory. The American private companies have not as yet been able to examine the draft and submit their observations thereon.”
Article 1. The High Contracting Parties signatory to the present Convention, as well as those hereafter adhering thereto, hereby constitute a Universal Electrical Communications Union, having for its object the reciprocal exchange of telegraphic and telephonic communication by land line, cable, radio or other electrical devices, and all other forms of signaling, as well as the further extension and improvement of such means of communication.
They undertake to apply the provisions of the present Convention to the International Telegraph and Telephone services which they provide by wire, and to all radiotelegraph and radiotelephone stations [Page 152] which they establish or work and which are open for the service of public correspondence, or for the special services covered by the regulations referred to in Article 16; and they also undertake to adopt, or to propose to their respective legislatures, the measures necessary for this purpose.
They also agree that the present Convention and Regulations referred to in Article 16 shall be applied to international signaling, so far as practicable.
Except where the context directly excludes such reference, the terms “telegraph” and “radiotelegraph” shall be held to include “telephone” and “radiotelephone,” and the term “telegram” shall be held to include “radiotelegram.”
Article 2. Each of the High Contracting Parties reserves the right to authorize private enterprises to conduct, in whole or in part, its communication services. The High Contracting Parties so arranging for the conduct of their international services, reserve, in each case, the right to provide by mutual agreement for the joint regulation of the international services and rates of such private enterprises. In default of such agreement, the private enterprises have the right to fix their own terminal and transit rates subject to the provisions of Articles 7, 14, 15, and 16.
When private enterprises so authorized adhere to this Convention and the Regulations annexed thereto, each of the High Contracting Parties agrees to exchange traffic with such enterprises on the same basis as contemplated therein for the exchange of traffic between Government Administrations. Each of the High Contracting Parties, however, reserves the right to limit or to prohibit traffic with private telegraph, telephone, cable, or radio enterprises which do not render service to the public generally or which engage in the sale of news.
The High Contracting Parties undertake, as soon as existing agreements admit, to adopt or to propose to their respective legislatures any measures necessary to insure the observance of the provisions of the present Convention and the Regulations annexed thereto by private enterprises authorized to conduct international communication services or to establish and operate radiotelegraph stations, whether open to public correspondence or not.
Private enterprises authorized to conduct international communication services are authorized to deal directly with the Central Bureau and with the High Contracting Parties.
Article 3. The High Contracting Parties recognize the right of all persons to correspond by means of the international telegraph and radiotelegraph services.
Article 4. They undertake to make all possible arrangements compatible with the system of communications adopted by them to insure the secrecy of communications and their proper transmission.[Page 153]
Article 5. They, however, declare that they accept no responsibility on account of the international telegraph or radiotelegraph service, or on account of the contents of international telegrams or radiotelegrams.
Article 6. Each of the High Contracting Parties, operating its communication facilities, undertakes to devote for international communication service telegraph or radiotelegraph facilities sufficient to insure permanence of the 24-hour service and to insure rapidity of transmission.
Each of the High Contracting Parties, not so operating its communication facilities, undertakes to require of private enterprises the same permanence and rapidity of service.
These communications shall be established and worked in the most efficient manner indicated by experience of the service, and shall be in keeping with scientific and technical progress. They shall be organized as far as possible in such a manner as not to disturb the services of other Administrations or other recognized services.
Article 7. Telegrams are classed in four categories, and in transmission take the following order of precedence:
- First.—Telegrams relating to the safety of human life, priority Government telegrams, and urgent service telegrams.
- Second.—Urgent private telegrams.
- Third.—Service telegrams.
- Fourth.—Ordinary Government and private telegrams. Government telegrams are those which emanate from the Chief of the State, Ministers, Commanders-in-Chief of land, sea, and air forces, and Diplomatic or Consular Agents of the Contracting Governments, as well as the replies to such telegrams. Service telegrams are those which emanate from the Telegraph and Radiotelegraph Administrations of the Contracting States, and which relate either to the international telegraph or radiotelegraph service or to objects of public interest agreed upon between the said Administrations.
Telegrams from the Council of the League of Nations shall have the same status as Government telegrams for the purpose of this Article.
Except as provided in this Article, service and rates shall, under like circumstances, be the same to all users without preference, concessions, priorities, rebates, or discriminations.
Article 8. Government and service telegrams may be sent between all telegraphic points in secret language.
Private telegrams may be exchanged in secret language in cases where the terminal States concerned admit that class of correspondence.[Page 154]
States which do not admit private telegrams in secret language originating in, or destined for, their territory, must allow them to pass in transit, whether by wire or radiotelegraphy, unless the service be suspended as defined in Article 10.
Article 9. The High Contracting Parties reserve to themselves the right of stopping the transmission of any private telegram which may appear dangerous to the security of the State, or which may be contrary to the laws of the country, to public order, or decency.
Article 10. Each Government also reserves to itself the right in case of emergency of suspending or modifying the international telegraph service for an indefinite period, if it deem necessary, either generally or only upon certain lines and for certain kinds of correspondence, upon condition that it immediately advises each of the other Contracting Governments.
Article 11. The High Contracting Parties reserve their entire liberty with regard to military radio services, except that such services shall as far as possible observe the annexed Regulations in regard to assisting distress and avoiding interference, and in particular that they shall observe the Regulations relating to wave lengths and other technical matters which concern them.
Article 12. The High Contracting Parties undertake to enable every sender to profit by the various arrangements agreed upon between the Telegraph Administrations of the Contracting States, for the purpose of giving facilities for the transmission and delivery of messages.
They also undertake to enable him to profit by the arrangements made and notified by any one of the other States for the employment of special means of transmission or delivery.
Article 13. The High Contracting Parties declare their adoption of the following basis for the formation of international tariffs:
The charge for all messages exchanged, by the same route, between the offices of any two of the Contracting States, shall be uniform. For the purpose, however, of applying the uniform charge any State may be subdivided into two or more large territorial divisions.
The amount of the charge is made up from State to State under agreement between the terminal and intermediate Governments in cases where the telegraph net-work of these latter is used for the transmission of such messages.
The charges composing the tariffs applicable to messages exchanged between Contracting States may, at any time, be modified by mutual agreement.
The gold franc is the monetary unit used as the basis of international tariffs.[Page 155]
Article 14. Telegrams relating to the international telegraph service, and radiotelegrams relating to the safety of human life, are transmitted free.
Article 15. The High Contracting Parties shall reciprocally account for the charges which they respectively collect.
Article 16. The provisions of the present Convention are completed by the Service Regulations, which have the same validity and come into force at the same time as the Convention.
Article 17. A Universal Electrical Communications Council is hereby established consisting of representatives from the United States of America, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan, and four other representatives, chosen by the other signatory parties, to be selected at each General Conference of the High Contracting Parties.
The Council shall meet once a year at such place as it shall select, and oftener if three of the High Contracting Parties deem it necessary for the consideration of special questions. The Council is authorized to consider all international aspects of telegraphic or telephonic communication by land line, submarine cable, radio, and other forms of signaling, and to suggest to the High Contracting Parties extensions and improvements of such communication, as well as modifications of and additions to the present Convention and Regulations and any other International Conventions relating to such facilities, and to recommend such measures as may be deemed necessary to assure the scientific development of facilities and to further the exchange of traffic.
Article 18. A Central Bureau shall be constituted under the direction of the above mentioned Council and shall be entrusted with the duty of collecting, co-ordinating and publishing information of every kind which is likely to be of interest to the Telegraph Administrations of the Contracting States, relating to telegraphy, telephony, radiotelegraphy, radiotelephony, and all other forms of signaling; of circulating proposals and decisions reached concerning modifications of the Convention and of the Regulations; and in general of proceeding with any work which it may be called upon to undertake in the interests of international communication.
Article 19. There shall be constituted, to collaborate with the Bureau, an International Technical Radiotelegraph and Visual Committee (short title C.I.R.V.) charged with giving advice on all problems concerning radiotelegraphy and visual and sound signaling.
The C.I.R.V. shall have such administrative and executive powers in regard to technical radiotelegraphy and visual and sound signaling as may be entrusted to it by the General Conferences of delegates representing the Administrations of the Contracting States.[Page 156]
It shall be composed of representatives from the United States of America, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan, and from four other Powers or groups of Powers to be selected at each General Conference. It shall meet at the headquarters of the Central Bureau at least every six months, and oftener if required. A copy of the Agenda for each meeting shall be sent beforehand to the other countries, and any of these countries shall have the right to send a delegation to voice its opinions on any particular question in which it is interested.
The Secretary of the C.I.R.V. shall be a radiotelegraph expert to be selected by the Committee. His clerical assistants shall be furnished by the Central Bureau.
The expenses necessary to carry out the provisions of the present Article and of Articles 17 and 18 shall be paid through the Central Bureau and be borne by all the Contracting Parties.
Article 20. The provisions of the present Convention may be modified at any time by common consent of the High Contracting Parties. The provisions of the Regulations relating thereto may be modified at any time by a majority of two-thirds of the Contracting Parties who have voted, except in the case of tariffs, when modifications shall be subject to the consent of those Administrations only which are immediately concerned.
Article 21. The tariffs and regulations provided for by Articles 13 and 16 are annexed to the present Convention. They possess the same authority and come into operation at the same time as the Convention.
They shall be subject to revisions in regard to which all adhering States will have the right to be heard.
With this object, administrative Conferences will take place periodically, each Conference fixing the time and place of the next meeting.
Article 22. These Conferences shall be composed of delegates representing the Administrations of the contracting countries.
In the deliberations each country shall exercise one vote only.
If a Government accede to the Convention for its colonies, possessions, or protectorates, subsequent Conferences may decide that the whole or part of such colonies, possessions, or protectorates is to be regarded as forming a country for the purposes of the foregoing clause. Nevertheless, the number of votes to be exercised by a Government, including its colonies, possessions, or protectorates, may not exceed six. The following Governments shall each have six votes: The United States, France, the British Empire, Italy, and Japan.[Page 157]
The following are regarded as forming each a single country for the purpose of the present Article:
- The Belgian Congo;
- The Spanish Colony of the Gulf of Guinea;
- The Dutch Indies;
- The Colony of Curaçao;
- Portuguese West Africa; and
- Portuguese East Africa and the Portuguese possessions in Asia.
Article 23. The High Contracting Parties reserve to themselves respectively the right to make separately, among themselves, special arrangements of any kind in matters of service which do not concern the Contracting States generally.
Subject to the requirements imposed by the present Convention and Regulations, the High Contracting Parties recognize the right of two Contracting States whose boundaries are not contiguous to organize radiotelegraph communication over the territory of other Contracting States.
In cases where the conditions of the communication services in the countries concerned are of a distinctive character owing to geographical, political, or other circumstances, subordinate régimes may be established by a restricted number of the High Contracting Parties for the purpose of encouraging the improvement of facilities and administration. Such subordinate régimes shall not take any action detrimental to or discriminatory against the High Contracting Parties generally. Each subordinate régime may determine the limits of its own membership. Subject to the consent of the Administrations concerned, an Administration may belong to more than one such subordinate régime. Any action taken by any such subordinate régime must be notified to the Central Bureau for transmission to each of the High Contracting Parties.
Article 24. States which have not taken part in the present Convention will be allowed to adhere to it on their request.
This adhesion will be notified through the diplomatic channel to the Contracting State in which the last Conference was held, and by that State to all the others.
The adhesion will, in itself, carry with it acceptance of all of the clauses of, and admission to all the advantages conferred by the present Convention.
The accession to the Convention of the Government of a country having colonies, possessions, or protectorates shall not carry with it the accession of the colonies, possessions, or protectorates of such Government, unless a declaration be made to the effect by such Government. The colonies, possessions or protectorates as a whole, [Page 158] or each one of them separately, may form the subject of a separate accession or a separate denunciation under the conditions indicated in the present Article and in Article 22.
Article 25. In case of difference of opinion between two or more Contracting Governments in respect of the interpretation or the execution, either of the present Convention or of the Regulations provided for by Article 16, the question in dispute may, by common consent, be submitted to arbitration. In such cases, each of the Governments concerned shall choose one other not concerned with the question.
The decision of the arbitrators shall be made by an absolute majority of votes.
In case of an equality of votes, the arbitrators shall appoint, in order to settle the difficulty, another Contracting Government not concerned in the question in dispute. In default of an agreement with regard to such choice, each arbitrator shall nominate a Contracting Government not interested in the dispute; and lots shall be drawn as between the Governments proposed. The drawing of lots shall be effected by the Universal Electrical Communications Council.
Article 26. Except in so far as telegraphic relations with non-adhering States or private enterprises are regulated by the Regulations provided for in Article 16 of the present Convention, each of the High Contracting Parties reserves to itself the right to fix the conditions under which it will allow telegrams and radiotelegrams coming from or destined for a country or mobile station which is not subject to the provisions of the present convention.
If a telegram or radiotelegram is admitted it must be sent forward and the ordinary charges must be applied to it.
Article 27. The present Convention shall take effect from the ——— and shall remain in force for an indefinite period or until the lapse of one year from the date of its denunciation.
A denunciation made by any State affects that State only; the Convention remaining in force as regards the other Contracting Parties.
Article 28. The present Convention shall be ratified, and the ratifications exchanged at ——— with as little delay as possible.
If one or more of the High Contracting Parties shall not ratify the Convention, it shall not thereby be less valid for the Parties which shall have ratified it.
In witness whereof the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the Convention in a single copy, which shall remain in the archives of the ——— Government.