511.3 B 1/144: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland ( Grew ) to the Secretary of State

5. [Paraphrase.] I reminded the Commission today that I was not authorized to state views on any subject but the traffic in arms. I did this because of Department’s 53 of September 12, 5 p.m.,24 which stated that the American Government was not in a position to secure the passage of legislation establishing effective control of the traffic in arms by imposing penalties applicable to private companies engaged in arms production. The occasion for my statement was the proposal that the subcommittee should discuss the private manufacture of arms with the idea of including both production of and traffic in arms in one convention. It seems to me difficult to reconcile the instruction referred to above with the reference in your telegram 9, February 2, 6 p.m., to “restriction on production.” With this in [Page 26] mind, and because the trend of discussion today indicates that it is possible that no distinction may be made between state and private manufacture of arms, I have left myself in a position to give a more detailed explanation of our views should I receive further instructions. It would be helpful to me to be informed whether any distinction is made by the Department between state and private production of arms. [End paraphrase.] In connection with the discussion of a central international office of control, I furthermore explained fully to the Commission the attitude of our Government towards the intertwining of the Convention of Saint Germain with the League of Nations, at the same time making it clear that other points of objection would be touched upon at the appropriate moment.

At the opening of the meeting this morning the Commission began the reading and discussion of the draft convention proposed by Magaz.25 During my absence discussion of the first article Lebrun supported26 Cecil expressed the view that he saw no reason why the objections raised by me should not be given satisfaction. Cecil added that I had explained the great objections of the United States to the ratification of the Convention of Saint Germain, whereupon I remarked that I did not wish to leave the impression that these were the only objections of the United States.

In the discussion on article 2 Cecil stated that to adopt an international bureau of control would be very difficult and unwise, particularly in that it would constitute a retrograde step in the principles of the League. In order to meet the views of the United States, however, he suggested the compromise that article 5 of the. Convention of Saint Germain, omitting paragraph 1 thereof, should be used in lieu of article 2 of the draft convention under discussion and that the article should be complemented by the statement that a copy of this report should be sent to the League of Nations only by states members of the League, and that states not members should merely publish such reports. The Italian member, Lebrun, and Branting indicated support of this suggestion. The French labor member, Jouhaux, implied opposition, however. In explanation Cecil stated that the germ of his proposal was that it should be obligatory for all states signifying [sic] the convention to make public statistics regarding the traffic in arms, and added that “the final control of the traffic in arms is not the League of Nations but public opinion.” The chairman stated that he believed the proposal of Cecil would satisfy the League as well as states not members of the League, [Page 27] and expressed the hope that the suggestion would be adopted. Jouhaux then stated that he regretted to see the apparent tendency of certain opportunist elements of opinion in the League which are willing to make any sacrifice of the prestige of the League to secure the cooperation of the United States.

During the discussion of article 12 of the Magaz draft I furthermore took occasion to call the attention of the Commission to the fact that certain states were not members of the Permanent Court of International Justice.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. i, p. 38.
  2. Quoted in telegram no. 3, Feb. 6, from the Minister in Switzerland, supra.
  3. Opening phrases apparently garbled.