Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1924, Volume I
511.3 B 1/170
The Chargé in Switzerland ( Magruder ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 26.]
L. N. No. 509
Sir: With reference to Mr. Grew’s despatch dated Paris, March 29, 1924,31 reporting his attendance at the meetings of the first subcommittee of the Temporary Mixed Commission for the Reduction of Armaments of the League of Nations which met at Paris on March 24, 1924, to consider the control of the traffic in arms and ammunition, I have the honor to enclose herewith … the “Draft Convention amending the Convention signed at St. Germain-en-Laye September 10, 1919, for the Control of the trade in Arms and Ammunition” …
I have [etc.]
Draft Convention Amending the Convention Signed at St. Germainen-Laye September 10, 1919, for the Control of the Trade in Arms and Ammunition
(Here will follow the names of the H. C. P. signing the new Convention).
Whereas the Convention of St. Germain was signed by the H. C. P. therein mentioned
Whereas certain of them were not able to ratify such Convention.
Whereas for this and for other reasons it is desirable to amend such Convention;
Whereas it is necessary to exercise a general supervision over the trade in arms and ammunition, with the object of securing the fullest possible publicity in regard to such trade, thereby drawing attention to the danger of the accumulation, in peace time, of stocks of munitions;
Whereas it is necessary to institute a uniform procedure for the supervision over the trade in firearms and ammunition which are capable of both warlike and other uses;
Whereas the existing treaties and conventions, and particularly the Brussels Act of July 2, 1890, regulating the traffic in arms and ammunition in certain regions, no longer meet present conditions, which require more elaborate provisions applicable to a wider area in Africa [Page 34] and the establishment of a corresponding regime in certain territories in Asia;
Whereas a special supervision of the maritime zone adjacent to certain countries is necessary to ensure the efficacy of the measures adopted by the various Governments both as regards the importation of arms and ammunition into these countries and the export of such arms and ammunition from their own territory.
Have appointed as their Plenipotentiaries:
(Here will follow the names of the Plenipotentiaries of the new H. C. P.)
who, having communicated their full powers found in good and due form,
Have agreed as follows:—
This Convention applies to the following arms and munitions:
Category I. Arms and munitions of war, as follows:
- Ships of war of all kinds, including submarines and submersibles.
- Airships, aeroplanes and seaplanes for use in war.
- Tanks and armoured cars.
- Artillery of all kinds.
- Apparatus for the discharge of all kinds of projectiles, and for the discharge of all kinds of bombs, torpedoes and depth charges.
- Flame throwers.
- Mines whether for land or water.
- Torpedoes and depth charges of all kinds.
- Bombs and grenades of all kinds.
- Machine guns and rifled smallbore breech-loading weapons of all kinds.
- Pistols and revolvers of all kinds.
- Ammunition of all kinds for use with any of the above.
- Explosives and propellants of all kinds for use in war.
- Component parts of any of the above including mountings.
Category II. Fire arms and ammunition for purposes of sport or personal defence.
In order to prevent the export and import of firearms and ammunition intended for warlike purposes though described and sold as articles of sport or personal defence and in order at the same time not to hamper unduly the legitimate trade in firearms and ammunition intended to be used only for sport and personal defence the H. C. P. hereby undertake that they will use their best endeavours to agree upon a uniform definition of
- Military rifles, revolvers and pistols and the ammunition thereof.
- Rifles, revolvers and pistols capable of use for both military and other purposes and the ammunition thereof.
- Rifles, revolvers and pistols regarded as of no military value and the ammunition thereof.
The H. C. P. undertake not to export themselves and to prohibit the export of arms and munitions of war in Category 1 except on the conditions mentioned in Article 3. This prohibition of exportation shall apply to all such arms and ammunition whether complete or in parts.
Nevertheless, notwithstanding this prohibition, the H. C. P. reserve the right to grant in respect of arms and munitions of war whose use is not prohibited by international law licences for the export of arms and munitions of war in Category I, but such licences are only to be granted on the following conditions:
- No licence is to be granted except for a direct supply to a Government recognised as such by the Government of the exporting territory.
- The Form in which this licence shall be given shall, so far as practicable, resemble that given as an annex to the present Convention.
- The Government acquiring the consignments must act through a duly accredited representative, who shall produce his credentials.
- Such representative must produce a written authority from his Government for the acquisition of each consignment, which authority must state that the consignment is acquired for the use of that Government and not for transfer and will be delivered to them and to no one else.
- Each licence must contain a full description of the arms and munitions of war to which it relates, and the names of the exporting and acquiring Governments, ports of embarkation and disembarkation, means of transport, route and destination.
- A separate licence shall be required for each separate shipment which crosses the frontier of the exporting country whether by land, water or air.
Without prejudice to any obligations to which they may have subscribed under international conventions dealing with transit, the H. C. P. undertake to take such steps as they reasonably can to supervise and prohibit the transit of the arms and munitions of war [Page 36] in Category I which are not accompanied by a licence made out in the proper form, as laid down in Article 3.
A copy of the licence shall be sent by the exporting State to the central international body referred to in Article 9 of the present Convention before the goods pass the frontier of the exporting country; a second copy shall be sent to the same international body by the importing country, if one of the H. C. P. within a month of the receipt of the consignment, mention being made of the heading under which the imported goods will appear in its imports statistics.
Firearms and ammunition in Category II may, if the exporting country so desires, be exported without licence except to the prohibited areas and zone mentioned in Article 10. Provided nevertheless that in the case of firearms and ammunition adapted both to warlike and also to other purposes, the H. C. P. hereby undertake to determine from the size, destination and other circumstances of each shipment for what uses it is intended and to decide in each case whether such shipment falls properly under Category II, or whether it ought to be considered to belong to Category I and in the latter case they undertake that it shall become subject to Articles 2 and 3 hereof.
The H. C. P. undertake in addition to prohibit the export both of arms and munitions of war in Category I and also of firearms and ammunition in Category II whether complete or in parts, to the areas and zone specified in Article 10. Nevertheless, notwithstanding this prohibition, the High Contracting Parties reserve the right to grant export licences on the understanding that such licences shall be issued only by the authorities of the exporting countries. Such authorities must satisfy themselves in advance that the arms or ammunition for which an export licence is requested are not intended for export to any destination or for disposal in any way contrary to the provisions of this Convention.
Shipments to be effected under contracts entered into before the coming into force of the present Convention shall be governed by its provisions.
The H. C. P. undertake to grant no export licences covering either Category I or Category II for delivery to any country which after [Page 37] having been placed under the tutelage of any Power, may endeavour to obtain from any other Power any of the arms or munitions of war in Category I or of the firearms or ammunition in Category II.
A Central International Body shall be established by the Council of the League of Nations for the purpose of collecting and preserving documents of all kinds exchanged by the H. C. P. with regard to the trade in and distribution of the arms and ammunition in Category I and Category II specified in the present Convention, as well as the texts of all laws orders and regulations made for the carrying out of the present Convention.
Each of the H. C. P. shall publish an annual report showing the export licences which it may have granted in respect of arms and munitions in Category I or Category II together with the quantities and destination of the arms and munitions to which the export licences refer. A copy of this report shall be sent to the Central International Body.
Movements of arms and munitions made by a Power within territories placed under its sovereignty or authority, and for the use of its own military forces, will not be included in this report.
The H. C. P. undertake, each as far as the territory under its jurisdiction is concerned, to prohibit the importation of arms and munitions of war in Category I and of firearms and ammunition in Category II into the following territorial areas, and also to prevent their exportation to, importation and transportation in the maritime zone defined below:
(Note:—The Commission is of opinion, in view of the new circumstances which have arisen since the Convention of St. Germain was drawn up, that the territories to be included in the restricted areas should form the subject of a fresh examination by the Council of the League of Nations).
Special licences for the import of arms and ammunition in Category I or Category II into the areas defined above may be issued. In the African area they shall be subject to the regulations specified in Articles 11 and 12 or to any local regulations of a stricter nature which may be in force.
In the other areas specified in the present Article, these licences shall be subject to similar regulations put into effect by the Governments exercising authority there.[Page 38]
Identical with Articles 7–21 of the Convention of St. Germain.
(Note:—These Articles are referred to the P. A. C. for technical examination.)
The H. C. P. who exercise authority over territories within the prohibited areas and zone specified in Article 10 agree to take so far as each may be concerned, the measures required for the enforcement of the present Convention, and in particular for the prosecution and repression of offences against the provisions contained therein. They shall communicate these measures to the Central International Body and shall inform it of the competent authorities referred to in the preceding Articles. Such of them as are members of the League of Nations shall at the same time transmit this information to the Secretary-General of the League.
The H. C. P. will use their best endeavours to secure the accession to the present Convention of other States whether members of the League of Nations or not.
This accession shall be notified through the diplomatic Channel to the Government of the French Republic, and by it to all the signatory or adhering States. The accession will come into force from the date of such notification to the French Government.
Any State may, with the consent of the H. C. P. notify its partial or conditional adherence to the provisions of the present Convention, provided that such conditions or partial adherence do not affect the effectiveness of the supervision of trade in arms and ammunition.
The H. C. P. agree that if any dispute whatever should arise between them relating to the application or interpretation of the present Convention which cannot be settled by negotiation, this dispute shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice, or alternatively to a Court of Arbitration.
All the provisions of former general international Conventions, relating to the matters dealt with in the present Convention, shall [Page 39] be considered as abrogated in so far as they are binding between the Powers which are Parties to the present Convention.
The present Convention shall in no way affect the rights and obligations which may arise out of the provisions either of the Covenant of the League of Nations or of the Treaties of Peace signed in 1919 and 1920 at Versailles, Neuilly, St. Germain and Trianon and the provisions of Agreements registered with the League of Nations and published by the League up to the date of the coming into force of the present Convention, so far as the Powers which are signatories of or benefit by the said Treaties or Agreements are concerned.
The Council of the League of Nations shall cause to be published an annual report on the trade in arms and munitions of war, the licences issued by the different Governments and the situation of the trade in arms.
This report shall be submitted to the Assembly of the League of Nations.
The present Convention shall be ratified as soon as possible. Each Power will address its ratification to the French Government, who will inform all the other signatory Powers.
The present Convention shall come into force when ratified by twelve Powers among whom shall be all of the following:—Belgium, United States of America, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Russia.
The present Convention shall remain in force for ten years. Thereafter it can be denounced by any H. C. P. by giving two years notice to the Government of the French Republic, who will inform all the other signatory Powers.
The H. C. P. agree that, at the conclusion of a period of five years, the present Convention shall, in the light of experience then gained, be subject to revision upon the request of . . . . . . . of the said H. C. P.
- Not printed.↩