511.3 B 1/80

Mr. Balfour, of the British Delegation at the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Hughes: With reference to our conversation yesterday on the subject of the Arms Traffic Convention of St. Germain, I am enclosing herewith a draft Resolution which has been prepared in the British Empire Delegation, and which I hope will meet with your approval. As you are aware, the United States and all the other Powers represented at the present Conference were among the score of signatories to the Convention, with the sole exception of Holland, which has since expressed its intention of adhering.

The main objects of the Convention are to bring the international traffic in arms under control, and in particular to apply to it the great safeguard of publicity, while subjecting to more stringent supervision the export of arms to certain defined territorial areas within which it is to the general interest that the traffic should be more strictly controlled.

It will be evident that a Convention of this character depends essentially on the general assent of all the principal countries by which the export of arms is carried on, as otherwise its only effect [Page 546] may be to divert the traffic to other channels. Hence, up to the present the principal signatories, while expressing their readiness to ratify the Convention, have naturally made this conditional on the acceptance of the Convention by all the principal Allied and-Associated Powers.

For this reason both my Government and, I believe, the Governments of all the principal Allied Powers are very anxious that the United States should, if possible, ratify the Convention, subject to such reservations as may be necessary in respect of any provisions involving the jurisdiction of the League of Nations.

I am assured that any such reservations would be willingly accepted by the signatory Powers.

I shall be very glad to give any further information in my power.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur James Balfour

Draft Resolution Providing for the Acceptance of the Provisions of the Arms Traffic Convention

The Powers represented at this Conference, recognising the great importance of bringing the international Traffic in Arms under regulation, declare their acceptance of the provisions of the Arms Traffic Convention concluded at St. Germain-en-Laye on 10th September 1919, and their intention of giving effect to those provisions at the earliest possible date. In making this declaration the United States, not being a member of the League of Nations, reserves its assent to any provisions of the Convention which require disputed questions to be submitted to the jurisdiction of the League. The United States Government is however prepared to furnish all information as to its proceedings under the Convention to the Central Authority established thereunder.

The other Powers represented at the Conference which are members of the League of Nations accept the above reservation so far as concerns themselves and will use their good offices to ensure that it shall be accepted by the other signatories of the Convention.