511.3 B 1/169

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland ( Gibson )

No. 16

Sir: Under date of May 13th the Legation at Berne, in its despatch No. 150732 advised the Department that information had been received from the Secretariat of the League of Nations that the first sub-committee as well as the Temporary Mixed Commission of the League of Nations, which is considering the control of the traffic in arms and ammunition, was to convene at Geneva on July 7th. The Department assumes that the Commission will also take up the question of the control of the private manufacture of munitions and implements of war on the basis of the report submitted with the Legation’s despatch No. 1508 of May 13th.32

Pursuant to the invitation which was extended by the Acting Secretary General of the League of Nations in December 1923, the Department desires you to attend the meeting of the Commission on July 7th in the same capacity and for the same purpose as earlier meetings of this Commission and its sub-committee were attended by your predecessor.

In previous communications, as listed below, the Department has outlined in some detail its attitude with regard to the various proposals which have been considered by the T. M. C. for the control of traffic in, and the production of, arms and ammunition. It is desired that you should carefully review these instructions …

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It is not the Department’s desire that you should take an active part in the discussions of the T. M. C. or that you should directly participate in the framing of the Convention. The reasons for this are obvious. The Department cannot undertake to state at this time whether a Convention along the lines now being considered by the T. M. C. would be likely to receive the requisite approval of the Senate or whether legislation to put such a Convention into effect could be obtained. Such being the case the Department does not desire that the impression should be created as a result of your participation in the discussions at Geneva that a convention of the character proposed would necessarily be presented to the Senate by this Government or legislation to give it effect would be requested. Whether this action will be taken will depend in large measure upon the character which the Convention assumes as finally drafted.

After you have made this position clear to the Commission it is felt that it would be entirely appropriate, if inquiry is made of you [Page 41] as to the attitude of this Government, to point out to the T. M. C. the features of the Convention as indicated which might occasion difficulty in this country and thus render less probable the cooperation of the United States in this matter, a cooperation which this Government would be glad to be in a position to extend for the control of the improper traffic in arms in case a practical basis for such cooperation were presented; such a basis for example as is indicated in sub-headings (a), (b) and (c) under point 2 in the Department’s telegram of March 7.

In indicating informally the Department’s position with respect to certain points of the Convention which may come under discussion, it is not desired that you should press your views upon the Commission further than to make clear the position of this ‘Government.

It is the Department’s understanding that at its July meeting the T. M. C. of the League of Nations will devote its attention to the draft convention which was considered at Paris by the sub-committee and of which the revised text was submitted with the Legation’s despatch No. 1504 of May 12, 1924. In the instructions which follow the Department will therefore take this draft as a basis and submit certain comments which may be helpful to you during the discussion of the draft convention.


It would appear unnecessary to refer in the Preamble to the Contention of St. Germain and to the fact that certain powers did not ratify this convention. It is the Department’s understanding that the convention was not ratified by Great Britain, France, Italy or Japan, in addition to the United States. It seems both unnecessary and ambiguous to state that certain powers were not able “to ratify” this convention.

It is assumed that the sixth paragraph of the Preamble which relates to the barred zone will be subject to any modification necessary to bring it in line with the provisions of Article 10 of the Convention as finally determined, which is to define the zone. This article will be discussed in further detail below.

Article 1

Category I (a) of Article 1, which defines the arms and munitions to which the convention is to be applicable includes vessels of war. This provision taken in conjunction with Article 3 might be interpreted as sanctioning the export under license of naval vessels and as a result a case might be presented where there would be a conflict with the provisions of Article 18 of the Treaty on the [Page 42] Limitation of Naval Armament, signed at Washington February 6, 1922.33 This point will be further considered under the discussion of Article 3.

An obvious difficulty arises in connection with the definition of firearms and ammunition for sport or personal defense and the distinguishing of such arms from those essentially for war purposes. From the discussions of the Temporary Mixed Commission it appears that this difficulty has not been overlooked by the Commission and that the effort has been made not to interfere unduly with the legitimate trade in sporting arms.

Article 2

The Department assumes that the reference in Article 2 to the export of arms and munitions is designed to cover consignments of arms which may be presented by the government of one country as a subsidy or gift as well as the export of arms and munitions through purchase by the acquiring government. The Department would be glad if you could ascertain during the course of the discussions whether such is in fact the understanding of those who have drafted the convention.

Article 3

In order that the provisions of Article 3 should in no way conflict with the provisions of treaties drawn up at the Washington Conference of 1921–1922 (Treaty on the Limitation of Naval Armament and Treaty Relating to The Use of Submarines and Noxious Gases in Warfare), the Commission might find it desirable to insert after the words “International Law” in the first sentence of paragraph one of Article 3 the following words “or treaties, or of which the disposal by gift, sale or any mode of transfer has not been restricted by treaty, licenses for the export,” etc., etc. This paragraph of Article 3 would then read in full as follows:

“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 or treaties or of which the disposal by gift, sale or any mode of transfer has not been restricted by treaty, licenses for the export of arms and munitions of war in Category I, but such licenses are only to be granted on the following conditions:”

In the following paragraph of Article 3 the Department considers it would be most desirable to add after “Government” the words “or belligerents” (see Department’s telegram of March 7th). It appears from page 8 of your predecessor’s report from Paris of [Page 43] March 2934 that the insertion of this word was considered at the Paris meeting but not accepted by the Commission. Mr. Grew indicated, however, that if there had been further opportunity for the consideration of the point the change might have been made. It is therefore possible that this question may again be raised at Geneva and in this case, if an opportunity is presented, you should not fail to indicate this Government’s view.

The Department has noted in the minutes of the discussion of the T. M. C. on Article 3 (see despatch No. 1458, April 4, enclosure pages 5 and 6, from the Legation at Berne34) that consideration was given to the effect upon neutrality of the issuance by a government of licenses for the export of arms to belligerents. This question would arise in a particularly acute form in a situation where, as during the World War, shipments to only one group of belligerents were possible.

The Department has also noted the statement of Lord Cecil “that he desired to allow sale in war time to belligerents without the violation of neutrality by the governments which granted the licenses.” To this end Lord Cecil proposed the insertion of the following provision after Article 3:

“It is hereby declared that nothing in this article shall affect the rule of international law permitting the sale of munitions of war by the subject of a non-belligerent state to the Government of a belligerent state without breach of the neutrality of the non-belligerent state and the grant of a license under this article for such a sale shall not be deemed to be a breach of neutrality.”

Lord Cecil also proposed the following “Questions for Decision” to the legal section of the Secretariat:

  • “(1) Would the grant of a license for export of arms to a belligerent be a breach of neutrality by the granting Power?
  • “(2) If the answer to the first question is in the affirmative, would this result be best prevented:
    By a declaration in the convention that such a breach of neutrality was not to occur, or
    By a suspension of the operation of the convention during the war?”

The amendment suggested by Lord Robert Cecil would tend to meet the difficulty in so far as the parties to the Convention are concerned and would therefore be a desirable addition to Article 3.

The Department would be glad to have you report fully any discussion of this point, which it considers of particular importance, and one which should be given most careful consideration before any convention is concluded.

[Page 44]

Article 4

The first paragraph of Article 4 refers to the control of the transit of arms and ammunition and contains a reservation with respect to “international conventions” to which the H. C. P.’s may have subscribed. In order that there should be no misunderstanding as to the international conventions to which this Article has reference, it might be desirable that such international treaties and conventions respecting transit should be listed in the annex to the proposed convention. (See Legation’s 1458, April 4, 1924, enclosure page 736).

In this connection the Department is enclosing for your information copies of two conventions to which the British Government is a party, one with Afghanistan37 and one with Nepal,38 which relate to the transit in arms and ammunition.

The second paragraph of Article 4 refers to the “exporting state.” It would seem preferable that this expression should read “state from which the material originated,” as it is understood that the convention contemplates that exports may be made by nationals of the H. C. P. under governmental license to recognized foreign governments (or belligerents) and that it is not intended that the exportation under license should be restricted to the export by governmental agencies or political divisions of the state from which the arms or ammunition are sent.

Article 5

Article 5 relates to the export without license of firearms and ammunition in Category II (sporting arms, etc.) “except to the prohibited areas and zones mentioned in Article 10.” From Article 6, however, it would appear that the export to the prohibited areas of arms in Category II would be permitted under licenses and under the safeguards outlined in that article. Article 10 refers to “special licenses for the import of arms and ammunition in Category I or Category II” into the prohibited areas.

The Department does not find these various references entirely clear and does not fully understand the regime which it is contemplated should be applied to the export and import of sporting arms in the case of the prohibited areas. In reporting on the meeting of the T. M. C. it would be helpful to receive further information on this point.

In the consideration of Articles 1 and 8 the Department briefly referred to this government’s view that the legitimate trade in [Page 45] sporting arms should not be unduly restricted and that the principle of equality of opportunity should not be impaired in regulating such trade.

Article 6

The statement in this article that licenses for export to the ‘barred’ zone “shall be issued only by the authorities of the exporting countries” is not understood as the Department had assumed from earlier provisions of the draft convention that such licenses were in all cases to be issued only by authorities of the exporting state.

Article 7

This article appears to be retroactive in effect and as such might impair the obligation of contracts entered into in good faith by the nationals of the H. C. P. in the event that agreements for the shipments of arms by private agencies to private agencies abroad had been entered into. In such cases the requirement of export licenses might be considered. As now drawn the provision is too sweeping in character.

Article 8

In this article.

“The High Contracting Parties undertake to grant no export licenses covering either Category I or Category II for delivery to any country which after having been placed under the tutelage of any Power, may endeavor 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.”

The effect of this article would apparently be to limit the trade in arms and ammunition with states under mandate or “tutelage” to the mandatory power or to the power exercising the so-called “tutelage.” The article is very similar to Article 4 of the St. Germain convention. In so far as this provision relates to the control of the export of arms and ammunition under Category II of which the export to private individuals without license, except with respect to certain defined areas, is to be permitted, the provision would appear to impair the freedom of economic opportunity and the equality of treatment as between the mandatory powers and other states. This equality of opportunity is guaranteed under the terms of the several mandates and should not be impaired by collateral agreements.

In so far as the article relates to the export of arms and ammunition in Category I the provision already contemplated under article 3, in limiting the export of arms and ammunition to recognized governments [Page 46] (or belligerents) tends to meet the purpose of the present article (Article 8) while avoiding its objectionable features.

For your personal and confidential guidance it may be added that in the view of this Department the provisions of Article 8 would be the subject of grave objection in this country. The primary purpose of the article appears to be to prevent the introduction of arms into certain areas and zones, including mandate regions, protectorates and territories occupied by backward peoples in which Great Britain, France, Italy and other countries are particularly interested. Such a provision might prevent this government from permitting the shipment of munitions of war to any oppressed peoples who might be endeavoring to free themselves from oppression, however worthy the cause or however desirable it might be that our market should be available to them. However remote the practical exigency may be, being ourselves a nation born of revolution this provision would, I believe, be open to serious objection and might, under given circumstances, prove to be unfortunate.

If such a provision had been in force at the time of the Cuban war of independence against Spain or for that matter at the time of the American Revolution it might have seriously affected the natural and proper development of large bodies of people. While it is recognized that conditions have very fundamentally changed since the events abovementioned, nevertheless the Department could not undertake to state that the present colonial situation is such that it should necessarily be continued indefinitely or that this Government should subscribe to a provision which would make it well nigh impossible for a change in the situation to be brought about should justice require. In this connection your attention is directed to the form of the Senate’s approval of the Brussels Convention of 1890 for the repression of the African Slave-trade which contains in articles 8 to 13 certain provisions which were introduced with modifications into the St. Germain Convention and also into the present draft. You will find the Senate Resolution mentioned above on page 1991 of Malloy, Volume 2. Paragraph 3 of the Resolution reads as follows:

Resolved further, as a part of this act of ratification, That the United States of America, having neither possessions nor protectorates in Africa, hereby disclaims any intention, in ratifying this treaty, to indicate any interest whatsoever in the possessions or protectorates established or claimed on that Continent by the other powers, or any approval of the wisdom, expediency or lawfulness thereof, and does not join in any expressions in the said General Act which might be construed as such a declaration or acknowledgment; and, for this reason, that it is desirable that a copy of this resolution be inserted in the protocol to be drawn up at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty on the part of the United States.

[Page 47]

Article 9

With respect to the provision in article 9 for the establishment of a Central International Body by the Council of the League of Nations, your attention is directed to Mr. Grew’s statement on page 10 in his report of March 29 from Paris39 to the sub-committee of the T. M. C. to the effect that while this government was already voluntarily and in a purely informal way furnishing the League of Nations with information and statistics on a variety of subjects neither he nor his government could undertake to indicate whether or not the Congress would bind itself to a treaty provision of this nature. The Department also desires to call your attention to its instruction to Mr. Grew, through the American Consul at Geneva, under date of February 7 with reference to the supervision of the League of Nations in the matter of arms traffic. Your attention is also directed to the statements in the Department’s instruction of March 7 … that “this government cannot place itself in any manner under the direction or supervision of the League of Nations, of which it is not a member.”

While the Department does not desire that objection in matters of administration should be given undue prominence, the provision in Article 9 that the “Central International Body shall be established by the Council of the League of Nations” would increase the opposition in this country to American adherence to the convention—opposition which might be obviated on this point by providing that the Central International Body in question should be established by agreement among the High Contracting Parties ratifying or adhering to the convention. (In this connection see Legation’s 1458, April 4,39 enclosure page 8).

The Department of course appreciates that if, as suggested, the Central International Body should be selected by the H. C. P. those powers would be free to designate the organization which they might consider best suited to perform the duties prescribed.

Article 10

In connection with this article, which relates to the prohibition of importation of arms and ammunition in the barred areas, as well as the prevention of such “exportation to, importation and transportation” in a certain maritime zone the Department calls your attention to the provisions of Article 6 under which the H. C. P. reserve the right to grant export licenses for the barred zone. The provisions of these two articles do not appear to be entirely consistent.

[Page 48]

It is difficult to submit detailed comments on Article 10, in view of the fact that the extent of the barred area is a matter for further examination. It may be suggested, however, that there are obvious objections to including in this area sovereign states.

Under the licensing system outlined in earlier articles of the Convention it would appear that means had been provided to deal with the situation of sovereign states which it might otherwise be contemplated to place in the barred zone. If conditions requiring more drastic treatment should be presented in a certain area, the powers could agree, if occasion arose, to put a stop to all shipments to such an area by declining to issue licenses for export to this destination.

As was indicated, however, in the Department’s instruction of March 7th, this Government will give proper consideration to any proposal as to limitations in the shipment of armament respecting Europe, Asia and Africa to which the other governments declare themselves willing to submit. But this Government would hardly be disposed to undertake to participate in the enforcement of regulations within the barred area or in the waters contiguous thereto. Its action would be limited to the restriction which might be possible under law upon the export of arms and ammunition from this country to such an area.

With reference to the second paragraph of Article 10 it is not entirely clear to the Department in what respect “the special licenses” there mentioned differ, in so far as the exporting country is concerned, from the licenses referred to in Article 3.

Articles 11 to 26

Articles 11 to 14, deal particularly with supervision on land, articles 15 to 25 with ocean surveillance, within the so-called barred area. These articles particularly concern the powers which have possession either within these areas or immediately contiguous thereto, and relate chiefly to matters for domestic legislation or regulation on the part of the powers which have colonies, dependencies or which exercise mandates or supervision within the area.

Article 26 is of a general character relating to the adoption of the measures for the enforcement of the preceding articles.

Certain of the provisions contained in these articles are based on articles 8 to 13 of the General Act for the repression of the African Slave-trade signed at Brussels July 2, 1890 (see Malloy, Volume 2, pages 1964 ff.) As you will note, the United States was a party to this convention and the form of the Senate’s concurrence therein has already been brought to your attention.

[Page 49]

In a communication from the Navy Department of April 4, 1922,41 in reply to an inquiry from this Department for an expression of views with regard to certain features of the convention of St. Germain, the Secretary of the Navy in dealing particularly with the articles of that Convention which have been taken over into the present draft states:

“The convention permits visit to certain classes of vessels in certain waters and provides that, the visit having been made, a definite obligation to bring in the vessel visited may follow. (See article 20). No other duty for vessels of the United States Navy is stated or implied in the convention.

“There is one other naval aspect of the convention. It extends in time of peace and for a new purpose the right of visit to certain classes of vessels on certain parts of the high seas.”

In commenting on this extension of the “right of visit” the Secretary of the Navy (writing in April 1922) expressed the view that it was undesirable.

In view, however, of the treaties recently concluded by this Government with certain foreign powers for the prevention of the smuggling of intoxicating liquors, which permit the boarding of private vessels outside the limits of territorial waters for certain defined purposes, the Department does not consider that a provision along similar lines with respect to the prevention of the smuggling of arms and ammunition would be objectionable. In this connection, however, you will note that the limit within which such boarding of private vessels is permitted under the liquor smuggling treaties is defined (i. e. one hour’s steaming distance from the shore in the British Treaty).42 Such a limitation does not appear to be provided with respect to the boarding of private vessels to search for arms and ammunition. It would appear desirable that some limit should be placed upon this privilege which might otherwise lend itself to abuse.

Article 27

The last paragraph of this article, which provides that a state may, with the consent of the H. C. P., notify its partial or conditional adherence to the convention provided such partial adherence does “not affect the effectiveness of the supervision of trade in arms and ammunition,” is doubtless intended to be a helpful provision and it may be one which would tend to make it more likely that the convention could be given full consideration by this Government.

[Page 50]

Article 29

The second paragraph of this article, which relates to the Allied Peace Treaties with the Central Powers, was apparently added to the draft subsequent to the sub-committee meeting at Paris, and the discussions which led up to its adoption have not been found in the Department’s files. However, in view of the concluding phrase of the second paragraph it is not considered that this provision affords any ground for objection.

Article 30

With reference to Article 30 your attention is called to the comments given above with respect to Article 9. It is suggested that the International Body which might be set up under Article 9 could publish the annual report which under the present draft is proposed should be published under the direction of the Council of the League of Nations.

Article 32

This article relates to the coming into force of the convention when ratified by certain powers among which figure the United States and, as now drawn, would appear to be inconsistent with Article 27 as now proposed, which provides for adherence as well as ratification.

Control of the Private Manufacture of Munitions and Implements of War

In addition to the draft convention relating to the traffic in arms and ammunition which has been discussed above, the Department has also given its attention to the report of the special committee appointed by the first sub-committee of the T. M. C. which met at Prague in April last. This report was transmitted with the Legation’s despatch No. 1508 of May 13, 1924.43 In connection with this report your attention is called to the Department’s instruction of February 7th last to Mr. Grew, through the American Consul at Geneva, and to point one of the Department’s instruction of March 7th …

The latest figures available to the Department do not indicate that this country is in any sense taking the lead in the production of arms and ammunition. In fact the figures given in the enclosed pamphlets issued by the Census Bureau44 which contain comparative [Page 51] statements respecting the manufacture of arms and munitions in the United States for the period prior and subsequent to 1914, including the year 1921, indicate that in the number of establishments manufacturing arms, the number of persons employed in this trade and the value of the production, the United States in 1921 was substantially on the same basis as in 1909. It would be interesting if comparative figures of this character could also be obtained with respect to the important arms producing countries of Europe.

Further, with respect to the production of arms it should be recalled that the situation of this country differs from that of certain of the powers represented on the T. M. C. in view of the fact that there are in the United States no important government munition factories. The United States is therefore dependent for its needs both in time of peace and in time of war largely upon private manufacturers.

In view of the fact that the recommendations of the Committee which met at Prague, and which it is understood are to be considered by the T. M. C, have not assumed definite form, the Department does not consider that it is feasible to send you further instructions on this phase of the subject at the present time. As has already been pointed out in previous instructions (See telegram of March 7th) manufacture or production is not per se commerce and Congress under the power to regulate interstate commerce cannot control mere manufacture or production within the states. The power of Congress could, however, be exerted, if Congress were so disposed, to control production of arms in the District of Columbia and in the territories and possessions of the United States.

In a telegram from Paris of March 28 Mr. Grew reported that Lord Cecil had inquired whether there were any constitutional difficulties which would prevent federal legislation in the United States with a view to obtaining for publication statistical information respecting production by private manufacturers in the various states of the union.

The Department has given careful consideration to this question and while it cannot undertake to speak with finality on the constitutional question involved it is of the opinion that federal legislation to secure such statistics would be constitutional. In fact in paragraph 32 of the Act of the 65th Congress, approved March 3, 1919 to provide for the 14th and subsequent decennial censuses it is provided:

“That the Director of the Census be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to collect and publish, for the years nineteen hundred and twenty-one, nineteen hundred and twenty-three, nineteen hundred [Page 52] and twenty-five, and nineteen hundred and twenty-seven, and for every tenth year after each of said years, statistics of the products of manufacturing industries; and the director is hereby authorized to prepare such schedules as in his judgment may be necessary.”

Acting under the authority of this Act statistics covering the private manufacture of arms and ammunition have been compiled and the pamphlets mentioned above have been issued dealing specifically with such manufacture. Copies in duplicate of the pamphlet giving the figures for the year 1921, as well as a comparison with the figures of certain preceding years, are enclosed herewith in duplicate. You may, if you consider it desirable, file one copy with the T. M. C. The Department understands that the material for the publication of a similar pamphlet covering the year 1923 is now being collected and will be available in a comparatively short time. This information will also be sent you as soon as received by the Department.

From informal inquiry of the Census Bureau, which prepares these reports, the Department understands that the Bureau sends representatives to the various munition plants in this country to collect the information desired. An effort is made to reach every establishment having an annual production value of $5,000 or more and in the opinion of the Census Bureau no establishment of any consequence has been overlooked. As stated in the publication of the Census Bureau it is believed that the inclusion of all establishments having an annual production of less than $5,000 would affect the figures in the enclosed pamphlet to the extent of less than one-tenth of 1 percent.

The report of the Census Bureau does not include government establishments. With respect to such establishments the Department has informally obtained the following information through the courtesy of the War Department.

In 1914 the government owned and operated six plants and it has the same number of plants today. The production of military equipment in government owned and operated establishments is less than half of what it was in 1914. In 1914, for instance, the government employed approximately 7,500 people in its plants and today the Department understands the number employed is less than 4,000. Most of these persons, furthermore, are engaged in storage plants and not in the production of arms and ammunition as the only material manufactured by the Government today is a small quantity of small arms (rifles) and some experimental material for coast defense.

General Considerations

Experience has shown the difficulty of making effective any control of the arms traffic as long as there is over-production. It [Page 53] does not appear that there is such over-production in the United States.
The United States has not contributed to any considerable extent in the traffic in arms with countries in Europe, Asia or Africa. Certain recent figures in this respect were included in Department’s telegram No. 9, February 2. Shipments from the United States to countries in this hemisphere and to countries where the United States enjoys extraterritorial rights can, as occasion requires and as has often been done, be placed under strict control at the points of shipment. The shipments which have been made recently to Mexico and Cuba have been in the interest of the maintenance of peace and order and the results amply justified these shipments. (See enclosed statements with respect to the shipment of arms to Mexico45).
A licensing system and proper publicity are steps with which this Government is in general accord and if a convention giving effect to these principles should be drawn up which did not involve the supervision or control of the League of Nations and if other provisions of an objectionable character should not be included, this Government would give such a convention most careful consideration.
As a possible addition to the principles already included in the convention it is suggested that you might be in a position to suggest informally the inclusion of a provision to the effect that the High Contracting Powers agree to withhold diplomatic or other support from their nationals in respect to any claim against a foreign government or national based on an arms shipment which shall not have been made under proper license where such license is required and further that the High Contracting Powers serve notice upon other governments that they will not entertain any claim presented by another government with respect to any arms shipment which likewise shall not have been made under proper license.

There is enclosed, for convenient reference in connection with this instruction, a copy of the draft convention45a in the form in which, the Department understands from the reports of the Legation at Berne, mentioned above, it is to be considered by the T. M. C. on July 7th. In case the Department’s understanding on this point is incorrect and if the draft which is to be considered by the T. M. C. differs in any material respects from that enclosed herewith the Department desires to be informed by telegraph.

The Department desires you to summarize by telegraph the discussions of the T. M. C. and to submit a full written report with the text of the minutes of the various meetings with your comments thereon.

[Page 54]

Subsequent to the preparation of the foregoing instructions the Department has received your despatch No. 20 of May 2746 enclosing the minutes of the meeting of the Permanent Advisory Commission for military, naval and air questions of the League of Nations which, together with the Naval Sub-Committee of this Commission, considered certain features of the draft convention for the control of the traffic in arms and ammunition as prepared by the T. M. C. and as enclosed herewith. The Department understands from these minutes that the Permanent Advisory Commission has suggested certain modifications in the draft convention particularly with respect to the categories of arms and ammunition with which the convention is to deal. From the minutes it appears that three categories have been suggested to replace the two categories of the draft of the T. M. C. and in addition the instruments of warfare listed under these categories differ slightly from those listed under the two categories of the earlier draft. The Department has particularly noted that the enumeration under Category I of the list prepared by the P. A. C. does not appear to include naval vessels. If the Department’s understanding on this point is correct and if the recommendations of the P. A. C. are adopted it might not be necessary for you to call the attention of the Commission to the possible effect of the convention upon the Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armament which was discussed above under Article 1.

The Department has further noted recommendations of the P. A. C. with regard to Articles 11 to 26 which are taken from the St. Germain Convention. The proposed modifications in these articles do not appear to call for further comment at this time.

Finally the Department has noted the suggestion of the British delegation on the P. A. C. “that, instead of a single arms traffic convention of a general nature being prepared, two separate conventions should be drawn up: one dealing with the general or world-wide traffic in arms, and the other, of more limited scope, dealing with the supply of arms to certain territories such as are dealt with in Article 6 of the St. Germain Convention.” (C. P. C.–47–1924, Annex 4, with the report of the P. A. C. to the Council of the League of Nations, dated Paris, May 20, 192447).

The Department considers that from the point of view of the United States the suggestion of the British delegation might have certain advantages. As already indicated the proposed regulations [Page 55] with regard to the “prohibited area” (area defined in Article 6 of the Treaty of St. Germain) particularly concern the countries possessing colonies or exercising authority within that area. It is believed that a convention containing the detailed provisions for supervision which are a part of the present draft convention would be more likely to meet with objection in this country than a convention of a more general and less technical character which would deal with the general question of the traffic in arms, which under the British proposal would be the subject of the first of the two conventions.

If therefore the suggestion of the British delegation is considered by the Temporary Mixed Commission the Department considers that you might appropriately express this view, should occasion arise.

I am [etc.]

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 247.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Great Britain, Cmd. 1786, Treaty Series No. 19 (1922): Treaty between the British and Afghan Governments, Signed at Kabul, November 22, 1921.
  8. Great Britain, Cmd. 2453, Treaty Series No. 31 (1925): Treaty between the United Kingdom and Nepal … Signed at Katmandu, December 21, 1923.
  9. Not printed.
  10. Not printed.
  11. Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 548.
  12. Post, p. 158.
  13. Not printed.
  14. Census of Manufactures, 1921: Ammunition and Firearms (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1923).
  15. Not printed; see vol. ii, pp. 428, ff.
  16. Ante, p. 33.
  17. Not printed.
  18. League of Nations, Conference for the Control of the International Trade in Arms, Munitions and Implements of War (C.758.M.258.1924.ix), document 15, p. 141.