The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Weeks)44

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that in accordance with the provisions of the Resolution establishing a Commission of Jurists to consider amendment of the laws of war, adopted on February 4, 1922, at the Sixth Plenary Session of the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, a copy of which is enclosed,45 the President has appointed as Commissioner of the United States, on the aforesaid Commission, the Honorable John Bassett Moore, member of the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague.

It is now proposed that this Commission, comprised of the delegates of Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the United States, shall meet at The Hague on December 10, 1922. I have now been advised that the British, French and Italian Governments have each made elaborate preparatory studies and that in all probability Japan has taken a similar course. These studies, the primary object of which is to set forth systematically and comprehensively the attitude of each government towards the various questions under consideration, apparently have not been conducted by the delegates composing the Commission but by persons in or in immediate contact with their respective military and naval establishments. It would therefore appear highly advisable that this Government should enter upon a similar course of study, with a view to instructing Judge Moore of its attitude towards the subjects to be discussed.

The questions to be considered by the Commission comprise the following:

Do the existing rules of international law adequately cover new methods of attack or defense resulting from the introduction or development, since The Hague Conference of 1907, of new agencies of warfare? If not, what changes in existing rules ought in consequence to be adopted as a part of the law of nations?

The Commission is to be at liberty to request the assistance and advice of experts in international law and in land, naval and aerial warfare, and is to report its conclusions to each of the Powers represented in its membership, and those Powers are then to confer, with a view to the acceptance of the report and the course to be followed [Page 48] to secure the adoption of its recommendations by the other civilized Powers.

This Department is prepared to lend the services of one of its appropriate officials to confer with competent officials of your Department and of the Navy Department, with a view to studying the questions above-mentioned and embodying the views of the War, Navy and State Departments in a report to be transmitted to Judge Moore for his guidance. If this suggestion meets with your approval, the appropriate officer of this Department will be glad to confer immediately with whomever you may designate for such a purpose.

A similar communication is being addressed to the Acting Secretary of the Navy.

I have [etc.]

William Phillips
  1. The same, mutatis mutandis, to the Secretary of the Navy.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 288.