500.A15/131: Telegram

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

38. Department’s 22, February 6, 6 p.m.

No foundation for press report that all technical questions will be turned over to Permanent Advisory Commission or Joint Commission or that these Commissions will “play big role.” As indicated in the invitation of December 12th56 and as amplified on page 37 of document C.P.D.[1],57 the Preparatory Commission is authorized but not bound to refer to these bodies any questions on which their advice is desired.
Associated Press correspondent informs Tuck his despatch was not written with full knowledge of the facts.
Reference of question[s] in which we are interested to League organizations on which we are not represented need not arise. As pointed out in Tuck’s telegram of December 28,58 provisions for cooperation of these committees were so drafted as to afford the [Page 51] opportunity for our delegation to be adequately represented when questions of interest to us were under discussion. Moreover I feel confident that it would always be possible to secure the reference of any specific question in which we are interested to a subcommittee of the Conference rather than to League committees if we should so desire at the time.
It is clearly specified and understood that opinions of these bodies are of purely advisory character and have no binding force. As at previous conference it is planned to refer occasional questions to them merely so that they can dispose of necessary drudgery and leave Conference committees free for more essential work.
During Arms Traffic Conference, questions were frequently referred to legal section of Secretariat for advisory opinions. That section is permanent League body forming integral part of Secretariat and we were not represented on it. However, neither Department nor delegation object[ed] to the course.
After having countenanced practice of referring questions to League body on which we are not represented I am not quite clear on what grounds I am desired to base our objection to similar procedure as regards the advisory bodies on which we are offered representation.
In view of the foregoing I have felt justified in withholding action last paragraph of Department’s telegram until further instructed since it is clear that it is not intended to attribute to these Commissions the role that is objected to by the Department and since press reports on the subject are inaccurate. Furthermore, I question the wisdom of making any communication at this time as [neither] Drummond nor Madariaga59 could take any decisive action but could only circulate information concerning our attitude which might create inadmissible impression as to our intentions. If Department feels that additional steps are desirable to make our position clear on this point I believe they could be taken most effectively when Conference meets.
  1. Ante, p. 40.
  2. League of Nations, Documents of the Preparatory Commission, Series I.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Salvador de Madariaga, Director of the Disarmament Section, League of Nations.