The Agent and Consul General at Cairo ( Howell ) to the Secretary of State

No. 97

Sir: I have the honour to herewith transmit to the Department copy of a communication just received, dated June 14, 1922, from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, respecting the interpretation by the Department of the reservation formulated by it, in reference to the acceptance of the prorogation of the powers of the Mixed Jurisdictions for an undetermined period in Egypt.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have [etc.]

J. Morton Howell
[Page 107]

The Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Saroit Pasha ) to the Agent and Consul General at Cairo ( Howell )

No. 778

Mr. Agent and Consul General: I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 25th March,3 by which you brought to my knowledge the interpretation given by the Government of the United States, to the reservation formulated by it and indicated in the letter from your Diplomatic Agency of 28th October, 1921,4 at the time of the acceptance of the prorogation of the powers of the Mixed Jurisdictions for an undetermined period.

According to this interpretation, the United States Government reserves itself the right to withdraw its adhesion to the powers of the Mixed Tribunals in that which concerns American citizens, at any time after the 1st November, 1922.

It is true that in its circular of 4th September, 1921,5 the Egyptian Government had made no allusion except to its right to put an end to the powers of the Mixed Jurisdictions provided that advice is given to the Powers concerned a year in advance; but, as it had also recognized this in its correspondence with other diplomatic agencies, it admitted that the right of denunciation possessed a reciprocal character, in the sense that the right of denunciation in the same conditions was in fact recognized by the Capitul[at]ory Powers, which had accepted the prorogation for an undetermined (or indefinite) period.

When the Egyptian Government received the American Diplomatic Agency’s letter dated 28th October, it found great difficulty in entering into negotiations with the United States Government, and to obtain precise definitions as to the scope of the reservations therein formulated before the expiration of the current period, that is to say, the 31st October. On the other hand it was in the interest both of American citizens and for those subject to Mixed Jurisdiction that the Mixed Courts should be able to continue to function without interruption after the 31st of October, in so far as American citizens were concerned. This is why precise answers were not requested previous to the promulgation of the decree of October 31st, 1921.

However, the Egyptian Government thought, in all good faith, that the reservation made by the United States Government was made only with an end in view of being able; to stipulate (to its own advantage) its right to terminate the agreement at any moment “provided [Page 108] a year’s notice was given”, all of which was in harmony with the right to terminate the agreement, which the Egyptian Government held, and in harmony with the right which certain other powers had reserved for themselves in their notes of consent thereto.

But the interpretation which the United States Government places on this reservation, contained in the letter from your Diplomatic Agency of October 28, results in the fact that the United States alone, among all the Capitulatory Powers, reserves itself the right to determine, at any moment, after November 1st, 1922, and without any previous warning, the power of the Mixed Jurisdiction, as far as American citizens are concerned. The United States Government would thus enjoy a privileged position [not only?] over other powers but even in so far as the Egyptian Government itself is concerned.

Thus the power to denounce (or terminate), without previous warning, the agreement concerning the Mixed Tribunals, is neither in the interest of American citizens nor in the interest of foreigners or Egyptians appearing in the Mixed Courts. This power would result in a constant state of uncertainty, all the more regrettable since one can hardly imagine that it could be made use of without first having considered the consequences of a return to the regime previous to the institution of the tribunals of judicial reform in 1875.

In your letter of March 25 it is true that you declared that your Government did not anticipate the necessity of having to retract its adhesion to the Mixed Tribunals without first having given sufficient warning.

While thanking you for this statement, the Egyptian Government would be glad to receive, in order to terminate the actual uncertainty in regard to the matter, a definite assurance that the Government of the United States is not aiming to obtain a privileged position in the matter, and further that it accepts the same conditions which have been accepted by other powers, in other words, to agree to give a notice of one year in case of the termination of the agreement.

I would, therefore, be grateful if you would submit again this question to your Government from this point of view, and I sincerely hope that it will meet with a favourable reception on the part of your Government.

Accept [etc.]

A. Saroit
  1. Not printed; based on instruction no. 4, Feb. 24, 1922, printed ibid., p. 919.
  2. Not found in Department files; based on telegram no. 21, Oct. 27, 1921, printed ibid., p. 917.
  3. Not printed.