The British Ambassador (Howard) to the Secretary of State

No. 489

Sir: The Committee of Experts for the Progressive Codification of International Law set up by the League of Nations has communicated to the Council of the League a report in which it is stated that the Committee have decided to include in its list of subjects, the regulation of which by international agreement would in their opinion be desirable, the following questions:—

“Is it desirable to revise the classification of diplomatic agents made by the Congresses of Vienna and Aix-la-Chapelle? In the affirmative case, to what extent should the existing classes of diplomatic agents be amalgamated, and should each State be recognised to have the right, in so far as existing differences of class remain, to determine at its discretion in what class its agents are to be ranked?”

To this report is attached a report by a sub-committee proposing that Ambassadors, Legates or Nuncios should be included in the same class and designation with Envoys and Ministers Plenipotentiary, and that as the substitution of the term “Public Minister” or “Minister Plenipotentiary” might appear to be somewhat derogatory to existing Ambassadors, it would be desirable that the title Ambassador should be used to designate the representatives of the first three categories of the Regulation of Vienna as completed by the Aix-la-Chapelle Protocol.

It is understood that a copy of this report (C.203.M.77.1927.V) has been communicated to the Government of the United States.

In a letter marked C.L.57.1927.V, dated the 7th June, the Secretary General of the League enquired inter alia whether His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain consider the revision of the classification of diplomatic agents desirable.

I have the honour, under instructions from His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to inform you that the Secretary General of the League of Nations has been informed that His Majesty’s Government do not consider it desirable that the present classification of diplomatic agents should be revised. In informing you of the view taken by His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain, I am to state that Sir Austen Chamberlain believes that the view of the Government of the United States will coincide with that of His Majesty’s Government and that they will send to Sir Eric Drummond a similar reply to his enquiry.

I have [etc.]

Esme Howard