The Chairman of the American Delegation (Burton) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 16—12:01 a.m.]
32. My 28, May 13, 2 p.m. [midnight], Department’s 20, May 14, 6 p.m. Upon further consideration proposal made by Uruguayan representative on French initiative, delegation considers that the principle involved if it could be properly phrased might serve as a useful precedent for securing cooperation of foreign powers in making effective provisions of our prohibition law.
As presented at this afternoon’s meeting of Legal Committee, Uruguayan proposal was vigorously attacked by German and Hungarian service who received considerable support especially from the South American delegates. Proposal would have been defeated if put to vote but postponement was decided to enable consultation to ascertain whether formula could not be found which Germans and others could accept.
In the event as seems likely that the redrafted text provides that the country whose laws prohibit importation of arms should itself communicate these laws to the other high contracting powers with view to securing cooperation of such powers in preventing exportation of arms in violation of the laws of the importing country the delegation would be inclined not to oppose this provision. It is of course understood that no absolute obligation should be placed upon exporting country to pass upon laws of any other country but exporting state would have the opportunity of cooperation insofar as possible or desirable preventing acts on its own territory which would lead to violation of the laws of the importing state.[Page 53]
This matter will be further discussed Monday afternoon and further instructions would be much appreciated.