The Department of State to the French Embassy


The Department of State has received from the American Ambassador at Paris a translation of a draft treaty with respect to the French mandate for the Cameroons, and the substance of a note, dated June 28, from the Minister for Foreign Affairs enclosing the text of the French mandates for Togoland and the Cameroons. It is stated in the note that Monsieur Poincaré hopes that the proposed text of these mandates will meet with the approval of the Government of the United States and that Monsieur Poincaré is ready to sign treaties relative to the French Mandates in Africa as soon as the Council of the League of Nations shall have approved the amended texts of the Mandates. The French Government has called attention to the urgency of reaching an agreement on the mandates for the territories in Africa, so that these mandates may be submitted to the Council of the League of Nations at its next meeting on July 15.

The proposals of the French Government with respect to the draft treaty have been examined, and it is deemed necessary to present a few observations with respect to questions raised by the draft concerning which it is believed there should be no difficulty in reaching an understanding. It is especially desired that the model of the treaty of the United States with Japan regarding the mandate over former German Islands in the Pacific Ocean32 should be followed as closely as possible.

It is deemed desirable that following the second paragraph of the preamble there should be inserted a recital with respect to the Treaty concluded August 25, 1921, between the United States and Germany. The United States did not become a party to the Treaty of Versailles, but Germany has agreed to accord to the United States rights and benefits stipulated for the benefit of the United States in the Treaty of Versailles, including rights and benefits under Section 119 of that Treaty. A copy of the Treaty of August 25, 1921, is annexed to this memorandum.33 A recital of the fact will doubtless not be objectionable to the French Government, and it is therefore suggested that the following paragraph be inserted, which is the same terms as the recital in the Treaty with Japan:

“Whereas the benefits accruing to the United States under the aforesaid Article 119 of the Treaty of Versailles were confirmed by [Page 147]the Treaty between the United States and Germany, signed on August 25, 1921, to restore friendly relations between the two nations.”

As pointed out in the memorandum given by the American Embassy in Paris to the French Government on August 9, 1921,34 the assent of the United States to the exercise of mandates over former possessions of Germany, is not, under the constitutional system of the United States, exclusively within the authority of the President, and it is necessary that such an assent should be given by an appropriate treaty. In view of the fact that the United States has not agreed that the Government of the Republic should exercise a mandate over the former German colony of the Cameroons, it is considered desirable to substitute for the third paragraph of the preamble the following:

“Whereas four of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, to wit: the British Empire, France, Italy and Japan, agreed that France should exercise the mandate for part of the former German Colony of the Cameroons.”

It is deemed advisable that, in reciting in the preamble of the proposed treaty the terms of the mandate, only the articles of the mandate should be inserted and not the preamble of the mandate. This will avoid the inclusion of the recital in the mandate that “the Principal Allied and Associated Powers agreed that a mandate should be conferred”. This, as has already been pointed out, is not an accurate recital, as the United States has not so agreed.

Note has been taken of the use in Article 1 of the draft treaty of the expression “declares itself in accord”. It may be pointed out that the Treaty between the United States and Japan, the purposes of which are similar to those of the proposed treaty, uses the word “consents”. That Treaty has been ratified by both countries, and the exchange of ratifications is about to take place. It is therefore deemed to be desirable that the same expression should be used in the English text of the Treaty between the United States and France. There appears to be no substantial difference in the meaning of that expression and the expression used in the French text.

It is suggested that it would be desirable that a substitution should be made for the second and third paragraphs of the preamble following the recital of the terms of the mandate, and that without subsequent repetitions the general purpose of the treaty could be briefly and succinctly stated, as is done in the Treaty with Japan, in a paragraph reading as follows: [Page 148]

“Whereas the Government of the United States and the Government of the French Republic desire to reach a definite understanding with regard to the rights of the two Governments and their respective nationals in the aforesaid former German Colony of the Cameroons”.

With respect to Article 1 of the draft treaty, the following is suggested as a more appropriate form:

“Subject to the provisions of the present Convention, the United States consents to the administration by the Government of the Republic, pursuant to the aforesaid mandate of the former German territory, described in Article 1 of the mandate.”

The phrase “including the engagements concerning equality from the point of view of commercial facilities” appearing in Article 2 would seem to be unnecessary in view of the fact that it is the purpose of the Article to place the United States and its nationals on a footing of equality generally as regards all rights and benefits defined by the mandate with all members of the League of Nations and their nationals. It is suggested that the purposes of this Article might be fully and accurately expressed as follows:

“The United States and its nationals shall have and enjoy all the rights and benefits secured under the terms of Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the mandate to members of the League of Nations and their nationals, notwithstanding the fact that the United States is not a member of the League of Nations.”

With respect to the mandate for the Cameroons, the French Government proposes to insert in the middle of Article 7, the following:

“Subject to the supervision which would be necessary for the maintenance of good administration”.

The elimination of these words is suggested. It would seem that a limitation in such broad and vague terms would cast a doubt on the efficacy of the entire Article. It should be noted that the opening clause:

“Subject to the provisions of any local law for the maintenance of public order and public morals,”

should be deemed to qualify the whole Article and is sufficient for the apparent purpose.

What has been said with respect to the treaty and mandate in the case of the French mandate for the Cameroons will apply mutatis mutandis to the treaty and mandate in the case of the French mandate for Togoland.

  1. Post, p. 600.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1921, vol. ii, p. 29.
  3. See telegram no. 377, Aug. 7, 1921, to the Ambassador in France, ibid., vol. i, p. 922.