The Secretary of the Navy (Denby) to the Secretary of State


Sir: In connection with the coming conference at the Hague on the Laws of War, there is transmitted herewith a paper by the General Board regarding the use of radio in war, which paper has been approved by me.

Sincerely yours,

Edwin Denby

The Senior Member Present of the General Board, Navy Department (Rodgers) to the Secretary of the Navy (Denby)

G. B. No. 438
(Serial No. 1125)

Subject: Laws of War.

References: (a) Navy Department’s letter 3809–959:190, Op–12 B of April 29, 1922.

(b) Resolutions Nos. 1 and 2 adopted by the Conference on the Limitation of Armament at the Sixth Plenary Session, February 4, 1922.

The General Board has considered the above subject in accordance with the Department’s order of April 29, 1922, reference (a). Since the date of the order an international commission has been appointed to meet at The Hague December 10, 1922, and the Secretary of State has requested that a representative of the Navy Department be appointed to confer with representatives from the War Department and from the State Department to report to the State Department [Page 49] as to suitable rules of warfare to be supported by the American delegate at The Hague. The Secretary of the Navy appointed a member of the General Board, Bear Admiral W. L. Rodgers, U.S.N., as the Navy Department representative. There have been frequent meetings of the inter-departmental committee. The General Board has thus had the advantage of becoming acquainted with the views of the War Department on the subject and has profited thereby.

2. The General Board recommends the following international rules for the use of radio in war:—

1. The erection or operation of radio stations within neutral jurisdiction by a belligerent is a violation of neutrality.

Neutral governments are under obligation to use due diligence in preventing radio stations within their jurisdiction from rendering unneutral service to either belligerent.

2. Belligerents may regulate or prevent radio messages, even from a neutral source:

On the high seas within the zone of military operations, and
Within their own territory and within the areas under their military control.

Such regulations to be binding upon neutrals, must have been seasonably notified to the neutral governments.

3. Neutral ships or neutral aircraft that send radio messages in violation of the belligerent radio regulations made in virtue of the preceding paragraph are liable to seizure and condemnation as for unneutral service at any time during the war.

4. Violation of belligerent radio regulations is not in itself an act of espionage.

5. Radio operators shall have the same status as bearers of dispatches.

6. The perversion of emergency signals of distress to any other purpose is prohibited.

3. The Board submits as an appendix the rules for radio above proposed, together with the most recent tentative draft of rules for radio brought forward by the War Department representatives to the inter-departmental committee, arranged in parallel columns, together with the General Board’s comments upon and comparison of the two drafts.46

W. L. Rodgers
  1. Not printed.