The Ambassador in Great Britain (Harvey) to the Secretary of State

No. 799

Sir: Upon receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 60 of July 8, 1921, regarding the British Government’s plans respecting certain changes in the government of Egypt, I did not fail to place the matter before the appropriate authorities here, and I am now in receipt of a letter from the Foreign Office, copies of which, with the annexes thereto, I am forwarding for the information of the Department.

I have [etc.]

(For the Ambassador)
Post Wheeler

Counselor of Embassy

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Curzon) to the American Ambassador (Harvey)

No. E 11498/189/16

Your Excellency: In Your Excellency’s note of August 23rd7 on the subject of the convention which His Majesty’s Government are anxious to conclude with the Government of the United States in connection with judicial reform in Egypt, you emphasised the importance which your Government attach to receiving ample information with regard to any change in the government of Egypt that may be in contemplation.

You are aware that negotiations have recently taken place between His Majesty’s Government and an Egyptian Delegation, the result of which will be apparent from documents recently laid before Parliament, copies of which I have the honour to transmit to you herewith.8 From a perusal of these documents you will realise that His Majesty’s Government whilst anxious to satisfy the desire of the Egyptian people for an increasing degree of autonomy, are determined to retain in Egypt a position which will enable them to assure the protection of foreign interests and the sound and impartial administration of justice as affecting foreigners.
Your note also referred to the desirability of receiving information concerning the attitude adopted by the other capitulatory Powers towards the projected judicial reforms. I have accordingly the honour to transmit to you copies of the conventions already concluded [Page 911] with Portugal, Greece, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.9 Negotiations with the other Powers are still proceeding.
In the enclosed re-draft of the proposed convention with the United States an endeavour has been made to meet the objections raised in your note. In the second of the numbered paragraphs of that note reference is made to the suspension of American capitulatory rights in Egypt, and the possibility of their being revived is contemplated. This point is covered by the second paragraph of the first article of the convention as re-drafted.
I desire, however, to remind you of the progress which Egypt has made under the British occupation. Conditions are now very different from those which obtained when the present Mixed Courts first came into existence; and that this marked development was recognised by the United States Government may be inferred from the terms in which their representative in Egypt, when announcing the recognition by his government of the British protectorate, expressed their “sympathy with the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people for a further measure of self-government”.10
It will scarcely be disputed that progress towards Egyptian self-government cannot be achieved without some limitation and modification of the capitulary rights of foreign Powers because in the conditions obtaining today these foreign rights have become a needless fetter on good government. But the gradual removal of the restriction imposed by these rights must proceed concomitantly with the development of Egypt and therefore in view of Great Britain’s special position in that country the most satisfactory arrangement is that she should be entrusted with their exercise.
You will perceive that the wording of the convention has been altered with the intention of meeting the points raised in the paragraphs numbered 3 and 4 of your note relative to the extension to American citizens and consular officers of the rights and privileges accorded to those of the most favoured nation.
It is hoped that article 5 as now drafted will be in accordance with the views of the United States Government, and that the introduction of a schedule of the treaties and conventions in force between Great Britain and the United States will remove any ambiguities which may have been present in the original text.
I should be grateful if you would impress upon your government the importance which His Majesty’s Government attach to the early conclusion of this convention.11

I have [etc.]

of Kedleston
[Page 912]

Draft Convention between the United States of America and Great Britain regarding Rights of American Nationals in Egypt

The Government of His Britannic Majesty, and the Government of the United States of America recognizing the special position occupied by Great Britain in Egypt have agreed as follows:—

1. So soon as the Mixed Tribunals shall be reconstituted with the power to exercise over American citizens the jurisdiction now vested in the American Consular Courts, the Government of the United States agree to suspend the judicial powers of their Consular Courts and officers in Egypt, save in respect of pending cases, and to entrust the exercise of all rights which the said government derive in Egypt from the system of the Capitulations to the Government of His Britannic Majesty.

The provisions of this Article shall not come into force unless the Mixed Tribunals have been empowered to exercise similar jurisdiction over British subjects and shall only remain in operation for so long as the Government of His Britannic Majesty shall exercise in Egypt the control necessary to enable them adequately to protect legitimate foreign interests.

2. Citizens of the United States shall enjoy in Egypt the same treatment as British nationals in all matters concerning public liberties, the administration of justice, individual rights, including the tenure of real property and mining rights, the exercise of professions, businesses and industries and the imposition of taxes and duties, it being understood that these rights shall not be less than those accorded to the nationals of any other foreign Power in Egypt.

3. Children born in Egypt of an American father who is there entitled to the privileges of a foreigner shall be entitled to American nationality; they shall not, by reason of birth in Egypt become Egyptian subjects.

4. American Consuls-General, Consuls, vice-consuls and consular agents in Egypt shall enjoy after the closing of the Consular Courts the same status as the corresponding American consular officials in Great Britain, it being understood that that status shall not be inferior to that of any other consular officers in Egypt.

They shall continue to exercise, in the interest of private persons, all their non-judicial functions in the same conditions as heretofore, in so far as the laws of Egypt do not conflict therewith.

5. Pending the conclusion of agreements on the subject between Egypt and the United States the following treaties and conventions [Page 913] in force between Great Britain and the United States shall extend to Egypt:—

Article X of the convention of August 9th 1842, the convention of July 12th, 1889, and the convention of December 13th, 1900 relative to the extradition of criminals fugitive from justice.
The convention of June 3rd, 1892 relative to the surrender of seamen deserters.
The treaty of March 2nd 1899 relative to the disposal of Real and Personal property.

It is reciprocally agreed that the system at present in force in the United States and in Egypt respectively in regard to imports from the other country and in regard to exports to that country shall not be in any way modified without notice which shall be given twelve months in advance. Nevertheless, the present arrangement shall not interfere with the right of the United States Government and of the Egyptian Government to introduce modifications in the existing customs regulations and duties provided that they apply equally to all other countries.

6. American schools of every denomination in Egypt shall continue to enjoy the same liberty as hitherto; they shall be subject to whatever laws are made applicable to all European schools in Egypt.

7. The United States Government agree, subject only to the consent of the other Powers concerned being obtained thereto, that all the powers and duties of the International Quarantine Board in Egypt shall pass into the hands of the Anglo-Egyptian authorities.

  1. See instruction no. 60, July 8, supra.
  2. Not printed; documents referred to relate to negotiations with Adli Pasha.
  3. Not printed.
  4. See despatch no. 457, Apr. 26, 1919, from the Agent and Consul General at Cairo, Foreign Relations, 1919, vol. ii, p. 203.
  5. There is no record in the Department files of a reply to this note.