711.5521/8

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Belgium ( Whitlock )

No. 615

Sir: The Department encloses a copy of Mr. Lansing’s note of November 11, 1916, to Baron Beyens, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium,64 and a copy and translation of Baron Beyens’ note of December 31, 1916, to Mr. Lansing,65 relative to the termination of Articles 11 and 12 of the Consular Convention, concluded March 9, 1880, between the United States and Belgium and the Treaty of [Page 208] Amity, Commerce and Navigation, concluded January 24, 1891, between the United States and the Independent State of the Kongo.

In his note of June 29, 1916, to the American Consul at Havre,66 a copy of which was sent by the Consul to the Embassy, Baron Beyens informed this Government that the Government of Belgium accepted the termination of Articles 11 and 12 of the Consular Convention from July 1, 1916, and agreed likewise that the other articles of that Convention should continue in effect.

By the same note Baron Beyens stated that the Belgian Government desired to make modifications in several of the provisions of the Treaty concluded January 24, 1891, between the United States and the Independent State of the Kongo, and that it considered that the best solution consisted in terminating the Convention itself. He, therefore, requested the American Government to make formal acknowledgment of this denunciation, stating that the Belgian Government consented that Article 5 of the Treaty of January 24, 1891, should cease to have effect on and after July 1, 1916, the other articles remaining provisionally in force.

From Baron Beyens’ note of December 31, 1916, it appears that it was the intention of the Belgian Government that the Treaty of January 24, 1891, should be deemed to have been denounced on July 1, 1916, the provisions of Article 5 ceasing to be operative on that date and the other articles remaining in force for the time being. Accordingly, you are instructed to address to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs a communication as follows:67

“By instruction of my Government, I have the honor to refer to Baron Beyens’ note of December 31, 1916 to the Secretary of State of the United States, relative to the termination of Articles 11 and 12 of the Consular Convention, concluded on March 9, 1880, between Belgium and the United States, and the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, concluded on January 24, 1891, between the United States and the Independent State of the Kongo.

“My Government also instructs me to offer to Your Excellency its regrets that reference has not previously been made to Baron Beyens’ note, for upon consideration which recently has been given to its contents it appears that it was the intention of Baron Beyens to give notice to my Government in his note of June 29, 1916, to the American Consul at Havre of the denunciation of the whole of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, concluded on January 24, 1891, between the United States and the Independent State of the Kongo, Article 5 ceasing to be operative July 1, 1916 under the notice which was given by my Government July 6, 1915, the other articles remaining provisionally in force.

“My Government is pleased to acknowledge that notice as given and received July 1, 1916. As the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, concluded on January 24, 1891, between the United States [Page 209] and the Independent State of the Kongo contains no stipulation respecting termination thereof or the period required for the giving of a notice of termination, my Government feels that it may assume that the wishes of the Belgian Government may best be met by considering that the treaty terminated at the expiration of such a period of notice as customarily is provided for in treaties of comity and navigation.

“My Government is therefore pleased to regard the treaty as having ceased to be operative on July 1, 1917, at the expiration of one year from the date of the notification of the Belgian Government.”

The Department would be pleased to have you inform it of your action with reference to this instruction, and later of any reply which may be received from the Belgian Government.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Norman H. Davis