511.3 B 1/134

The Acting President of the Council of the League of Nations (Branting) to the Secretary of State

Sir: I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of September the 12th, 1923, forwarded by the Legation of the United States in Berne, in answer to the communication sent you by the Acting President of the Council, dated May 1st.

In that letter the Acting President of the Council outlined the development of this question. After having recalled the fact that the Convention of St. Germain had been framed with the co-operation of the American Peace Commission, as an adequate solution of the Arms Traffic question on a world-wide basis and pointed out that this Convention could not fulfil its aim, unless ratified by all the manufacturing Powers, the letter went on to summarise the efforts that were made by the League of Nations to bring about this ratification. It then recalled that, unfortunately, the Government of the United States had found itself unable to ratify the Convention, thereby putting an end to all hopes of ratification by the other [Page 44]chief manufacturing powers which had been conditional on a general ratification by all of them.

The letter addressed by the Council of the League to the Government of the United States on November 21st, 1921, was then mentioned, as well as your answer of July 28th, 1922, in which you were good enough to inform the Secretary General that: “while the Government of the United States was in cordial sympathy with efforts to restrict traffic in arms and munitions of war, it found itself unable to approve the provisions of the Convention and to give any assurance of its ratification”.

The letter of the Acting President of the Council quoted the Resolution of the Third Assembly to the effect “that the Assembly considers it highly desirable that the Government of the United States should express the objections which it has to formulate to the provisions of the Convention of St. Germain, as well as any proposals which it may care to make as to the way in which these objections can be overcome”.

Your reply of September the 12th, 1923, was received at the moment when the Fourth Assembly was dealing with the question. The Assembly, while noting the objections which the Government of the United States raised in connection with the Convention of St. Germain, as outlined in your letter, was, however, confronted with the fact that no proposals were made therein for the solution of the problem on a fresh basis. The first, or negative side of the Assembly’s Resolution was therefore met, but not its second or positive part.

Having, however, in mind, the fact that, in a previous letter quoted above, the Government of the United States had expressed itself “in cordial sympathy with efforts to restrict the traffic in arms and munitions of war” the Assembly, in its session of 1923, adopted the following resolution:

“IV. a).—The Assembly recommends that the Temporary Mixed Commission should be invited to prepare a new Convention or Conventions to replace that of St. Germain for the control of the Traffic in Arms.

The Temporary Mixed Commission should be requested to draw up the draft Convention, or Conventions, in such a form that they might be accepted by the Governments of all countries which produce arms or munitions of war.

The Temporary Mixed Commission should, however, also make alternative proposals for a Convention or Conventions which might be adopted by some of the producing Powers, even if others refused their co-operation.

The Assembly recommends that the Council should invite the United States Government to appoint representatives to co-operate [Page 45]with the Temporary Mixed Commission in preparing the draft Convention or conventions”.

Acting upon this Resolution of the Assembly, with which the Council is in entire agreement, I have the honour, on behalf of my colleagues of the Council to invite the Government of the United States to co-operate with the Temporary Mixed Commission in the preparation of the draft convention, or conventions, suggested by the Assembly.

In sending this invitation to the Government of the United States, the Council has felt that the problem of the control of the traffic in arms—a problem which the Federal Government will agree has an eminently moral and humanitarian character—cannot be entirely solved except with the help of all the great producing countries.

I have the honour to enclose, not only the Report of the Temporary Mixed Commission to the Council, and the Report of the Third Committee to the Assembly, both of which deal with the question raised in this letter, but also the resolution of the Council, setting out the constitution and character of the Commission.43

I have [etc.]

H. J. Branting
  1. Enclosures not printed.