500.C1196/21: Telegram

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

99. Please transmit to the Secretary General of the League of Nations in the usual manner before December 31, the following communication:

The Secretary General of the League of Nations with a communication dated June 7, 1927, was good enough to transmit to the Secretary of State of the United States certain questionnaires and reports prepared by the Committee of Experts for the Progressive Codification of International Law54 and to request the opinion of the Government of the United States as to whether the regulation by international agreement of the subjects treated in the questionnaires, having regard both to their general aspects and the specific points [Page 412] mentioned in the questionnaires, is desirable and realizable in the near future.

Question No. 8. With respect to the amended draft convention on this subject submitted with the report of the sub-committee of the Committee of Experts, it may be stated that the taking of testimony relating to criminal cases in foreign countries by the use of letters rogatory, with which Article I of the amended draft deals, is a process for which no provision has been made by the legislation of the Federal Government and one which under the system prevailing in the United States can be employed, if at all, only pursuant to the laws of the several states. It is not deemed advisable to make commitments by international convention to change the existing practice in this regard prevailing in the United States. Moreover, evidence obtained in foreign countries through letters rogatory could not be used in criminal cases in the United States, since under the Constitution the accused must be confronted by the witnesses against him.

With respect to the second Article of the revised draft it may be stated that the Government of the United States is not prepared to commit itself to serve summonses emanating with foreign courts on witnesses or experts resident in the United States or to surrender persons in custody, except through the process of extradition.

It is the view of the Government of the United States that the matter of the surrender of exhibits dealt with in the third Article of the amended draft convention can be adequately provided for in extradition treaties. Indeed, provisions for the surrender of property in possession of fugitives are contained in some of the extradition treaties of the United States. The list of treaties appended to the report, as examples of judicial cooperation, indicates that the subject as heretofore treated, is closely related to extradition.

While conventions on the subject of judicial cooperation doubtless serve a useful purpose among countries in close geographic proximity to each other, it is not apparent that uniform application of such agreements is necessary.

Question No. 9. The experience of the Government of the United States has not revealed any considerable uncertainty regarding the legal position and functions of consuls. Furthermore, this matter has been the subject of numerous provisions in bilateral treaties. It is the view of the Government of the United States that no compelling necessity exists for the treatment of this subject by a general international convention.

Question No. 10. The Government of the United States does not consider it desirable to revise the classifications of diplomatic agents as proposed. No circumstances or conditions demonstrating the desirability of changing the classification have been revealed nor is there reason to expect that the purposed change, if made, would effect any material improvement.

The Government of the United States does not consider that the regulation by multilateral international agreement of questions eight and nine or the change of classification proposed in question ten is desirable or attainable in the near future.

Question No. 11. The Government of the United States is inclined to the view that an international agreement on the subject of [Page 413] competence of the courts in certain classes of cases against foreign states, would serve a useful purpose, and would therefore be desirable and that there should be no insuperable obstacle to the concluding of an agreement on that subject.

The Government of the United States thanks the Secretary General for the report on “Effect of the most-favored-nation clause” forwarded with the communication of June 7.

Kellogg
  1. Communication not printed. For texts of the four questionnaires, see League of Nations, Committee of Experts for the Progressive Codification of International Law: Questionnaires adopted by the Committee at its Third Session, held March-April 1927: (8) Communication of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Acts in Penal Matters and Letters Rogatory in Penal Matters (C.201.M.75.1927.V—C.P.D.I.99–2); (9) Legal Position and Functions of Consuls (C.202.M.76.1927. V—C.P.D.I.100–2); (10) Revision of the Classification of Diplomatic Agents (C.203. M.77.1927.V—C.P.D.I.101–2); (11) Competence of the Courts in Regard to Foreign States (C.204.M.78.1927.V—C.P.D.I.102–2). There was also transmitted with this communication a report of the Committee entitled “The Most-Favored-Nation Clause” (C.205.M.79.1927.V—C.P.D.I.97–1).