Treaty Series No. 685

Convention between the United States of America and Great Britain, Signed at Washington, January 23, 192437

The President of the United States of America;

And His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India;

Being desirous of avoiding any difficulties which might arise between them in connection with the laws in force in the United States on the subject of alcoholic beverages;

Have decided to conclude a Convention for that purpose;

And have appointed as their Plenipotentiaries:

  • The President of the United States of America:
  • Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State of the United States;
  • His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India:
  • The Right Honorable Sir Auckland Campbell Geddes, G. C. M. G., K. C. B., His Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America;

Who, having communicated their full powers found in good and due form, have agreed as follows:

Article I

The High Contracting Parties declare that it is their firm intention to uphold the principle that 3 marine miles extending from the coastline outwards and measured from low-water mark constitute the proper limits of territorial waters.

Article II

His Britannic Majesty agrees that he will raise no objection to the boarding of private vessels under the British flag outside the limits of territorial waters by the authorities of the United States, [Page 159] its territories or possessions in order that enquiries may be addressed to those on board and an examination be made of the ship’s papers for the purpose of ascertaining whether the vessel or those on board are endeavoring to import or have imported alcoholic beverages into the United States, its territories or possessions in violation of the laws there in force. When such enquiries and examination show a reasonable ground for suspicion, a search of the vessel may be instituted.
If there is reasonable cause for belief that the vessel has committed or is committing or attempting to commit an offense against the laws of the United States, its territories or possessions prohibiting the importation of alcoholic beverages, the vessel may be seized and taken into a port of the United States, its territories or possessions for adjudication in accordance with such laws.
The rights conferred by this article shall not be exercised at a greater distance from the coast of the United States its territories or possessions than can be traversed in one hour by the vessel suspected of endeavoring to commit the offense. In cases, however, in which the liquor is intended to be conveyed to the United States its territories or possessions by a vessel other than the one boarded and searched, it shall be the speed of such other vessel and not the speed of the vessel boarded, which shall determine the distance from the coast at which the right under this article can be exercised.

Article III

No penalty or forfeiture under the laws of the United States shall be applicable or attach to alcoholic liquors or to vessels or persons by reason of the carriage of such liquors, when such liquors are listed as sea stores or cargo destined for a port foreign to the United States, its territories or possessions on board British vessels voyaging to or from ports of the United States, or its territories or possessions or passing through the territorial waters thereof, and such carriage shall be as now provided by law with respect to the transit of such liquors through the Panama Canal, provided that such liquors shall be kept under seal continuously while the vessel on which they are carried remains within said territorial waters and that no part of such liquors shall at any time or place be unladen within the United States, its territories or possessions.

Article IV

Any claim by a British vessel for compensation on the grounds that it has suffered loss or injury through the improper or unreasonable exercise of the rights conferred by Article II of this Treaty or [Page 160] on the ground that it has not been given the benefit of Article III shall be referred for the joint consideration of two persons, one of whom shall be nominated by each of the High Contracting Parties.

Effect shall be given to the recommendations contained in any such joint report. If no joint report can be agreed upon, the claim shall be referred to the Claims Commission established under the provisions of the Agreement for the Settlement of Outstanding Pecuniary Claims signed at Washington the 18th August, 1910, but the claim shall not, before submission to the tribunal, require to be included in a schedule of claims confirmed in the manner therein provided.

Article V

This Treaty shall be subject to ratification and shall remain in force for a period of one year from the date of the exchange of ratifications.

Three months before the expiration of the said period of one year, either of the High Contracting Parties may give notice, of its desire to propose modifications in the terms of the Treaty.

If such modifications have not been agreed upon before the expiration of the term of one year mentioned above, the Treaty shall lapse.

If no notice is given on either side of the desire to propose modifications, the Treaty shall remain in force for another year, and so on automatically, but subject always in respect of each such period of a year to the right on either side to propose as provided above three months before its expiration modifications in the Treaty, and to the provision that if such modifications are not agreed upon before the close of the period of one year, the Treaty shall lapse.

Article VI

In the event that either of the High Contracting Parties shall be prevented either by judicial decision or legislative action from giving full effect to the provisions of the present Treaty the said Treaty shall automatically lapse, and, on such lapse or whenever this Treaty shall cease to be in force, each High Contracting Party shall enjoy all the rights which it would have possessed had this Treaty not been concluded.

The present Convention shall be duly ratified by the President of the United States of America, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and by His Britannic Majesty; and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington as soon as possible.

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In Witness Whereof, the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Convention in duplicate and have thereunto affixed their seals.

Charles Evans Hughes

A. C. Geddes
  1. Ratification advised by the Senate, Mar. 13, 1924; ratified by the President, Mar. 21, 1924; ratified by Great Britain, Apr. 30, 1924; ratifications exchanged at Washington, May 22, 1924; proclaimed by the President, May 22, 1924.