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

No. 472

Sir: With reference to the Department’s telegram No. 41 of April 3, 6 p.m., 1928, relative to the treaty of arbitration submitted to the Swiss Government, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of a communication dated June 12, 1928, which I have [Page 938] received from Mr. Motta, Federal Councillor and Chief of the Political Department, with which Mr. Motta transmitted to me a copy of their counter project, which he has instructed the Swiss Legation to present to you, and explains the reasons therefor.

I have [etc.]

Hugh R. Wilson

The Chief of the Swiss Federal Political Department (Motta) to the American Minister (Wilson)

B14/4 Am.–RZ

Mr. Minister: You are doubtless aware that the Government of the United States, through the Swiss Legation at Washington, has approached the Federal Council with a view to the conclusion of a treaty of arbitration between the two countries. It has, furthermore, expressed the desire that the Bryan Treaty, concluded on February 13, 1914, between the United States and Switzerland, should, if possible, be put into force.

The Federal Council has studied with the greatest interest the proposals of the Government of the United States and is gladly disposed to negotiate an agreement for the pacific settlement of disputes which might arise between the two countries. However, it has not overlooked the difficulties which might be encountered in submitting to the Federal Chambers at this time a treaty signed nearly fifteen years ago. It appears much preferable to the Federal Council that the treaty to be concluded should cover both the procedure of conciliation and the procedure of arbitration. Such a solution should be all the more acceptable to the Government of the United States since the Federal Council would be prepared to negotiate the agreement in question within the very limits of the Bryan Treaty of 1914 and on the basis of the draft arbitration treaty which Mr. Kellogg transmitted to the Swiss Minister at Washington.

With a view to facilitating the negotiation, the Federal Council has prepared a counter-draft of the treaty which it would be happy to see concluded between the two countries and has instructed the Swiss Legation in the United States to communicate the tenor thereof to the Department of State at Washington.

We hasten to enclose a copy of this draft for your information.40

As you will note, the draft of the Federal Council does not depart extensively from the American draft. It contains, in particular, the specific reservations on arbitration which appear in the Arbitration Treaty between France and the United States of February 6, 1928 (Article 5 of the draft), as well as a provision which would enable [Page 939] the American Senate to reserve its powers as regards approval of special arbitration agreements (Article 4, last paragraph).

As regards the procedure of conciliation, the first three articles of the Swiss counter-draft resume almost in their entirety the provisions of the Bryan Treaty signed on February 13, 1914. The Federal Council has nevertheless deemed it expedient to complete them by the following three points:

In case of disagreement on the choice of the president of the conciliation commission, the nomination will be made in conformity with Article 45 of The Hague Convention for the pacific settlement of international disputes, of October 18, 1907.41 The absence of an agreement between the parties on the choice of the president should not result in an indefinite postponement of the constitution of the commission.
The Bryan Treaties provide neither the manner in which a dispute is to be submitted to the commission, nor the place where it is to hold its meetings. Article 3, paragraph 1, of our counter-draft would fill these gaps.
As regards the procedure before the commission, paragraph 2 of the same article contains substantially the provisions of Chapter III of the first Hague Convention of October 18, 1907, whereas the Bryan Treaties are silent on the procedure proper.

In preparing its counter-draft, the Federal Council might clearly have followed more closely the numerous treaties concluded up to this time by the Confederation in matters of conciliation and arbitration, but it has endeavored to adhere as nearly as possible to the general lines of the American draft in order to facilitate an understanding on the terms of an agreement which will serve to strengthen even more the excellent relations existing between our two countries.

Please accept [etc.]


[For text of the treaty signed February 16, 1931, see Department of State Treaty Series No. 844 or 47 Stat. 1983.]