511.4 A 2/221
The Chairman of the American Delegation (Porter) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 2, 1925.]
Sir: Referring to my telegram of this date,92 I have the honor to enclose a copy of the agreement which was reached by the First Conference, but which has not yet been signed, together with commentaries on this document by Bishop Brent and myself.93
I do not feel that this agreement can be considered as a strict compliance with the intent of Chapter II of The Hague Convention, and I am fearful that an acquiescence in its terms on the part of the United States would be construed to mean that we are prepared to accept an interpretation of Chapter II, which will mean an almost indefinite postponement of the period when the use of prepared opium should terminate.
For these reasons I feel that our Government should adopt a determined attitude in this connection. The Japanese have informed me privately that they do not like this agreement and that it represents much less than they are already doing, and that they are prepared to accept and enforce complete prohibition within a definite period of years. The British also were prepared to go much further than the terms of the document indicate, and the Dutch occupy a [Page 120] position, so far as their Far Eastern colonies are concerned, midway between that of the Japanese and British. The document apparently represents all that the French and the Portuguese were prepared to accede to.
The presentation of the American Suggestions under Chapter II of the Convention caused much controversy, particularly among those nations which were represented at the First Conference and who insisted that the questions affecting prepared opium were outside the scope of the present Conference. More than this, they insisted that they had been instructed by their Governments on this point and that they were not prepared to repudiate a convention which they had just completed and which, they stated, they had authority to sign. I brought up the question in plenary session on the 12th, and it was obvious that the parties to the agreement reached at the First Conference were in a hopeless minority, and that they would lose if a vote were taken as to the competence of the Conference to consider the question of prepared opium. Discussion was adjourned to yesterday, when a proposal was laid before the Conference by the President to adjourn until the 12th of January, when the American proposal would be the first item on the program.
In the meantime, when the First Conference agreement was ready for signature the British and French representatives announced that they were not in a position to sign the document, which they have never attempted to justify in public. I am inclined to believe that the agreement will be disavowed and the principles outlined in our own suggestions in regard to Chapter II will be accepted if we insist sufficiently upon our point of view.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that the attitude of the South American states represented at the Conference has been consistently friendly, and that they have supported us in every public meeting at which any issue or principle has been at stake. I feel it would be desirable to acknowledge our appreciation through appropriate channels.
I have [etc.]