The Chargé in the Netherlands (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

No. 2010

Sir: With reference to this Legation’s despatches Nos. 1756, of January 3rd and 1763 of January 8th and to the Department’s Instruction No. 649, of March 19, 1929,35 concerning the proposed treaty between the United States and The Netherlands in regard to the status and military obligations of naturalized persons and persons born of dual nationality,36 I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy and translation of a note from the Foreign Office dated August 19th.37

This note states that the Netherland Government is not yet in a position to give precisely its attitude with respect to the entire proposal but that the Government is disposed in principle to consider the question of a treaty along the lines desired particularly in so far as naturalized citizens are concerned.

The note points out that Dutch legislation and practice is in conformity [Page 468] with the provisions of the two first paragraphs of Article 1 of the draft treaty and that therefore the negotiation of a provisional agreement with regard to these points would appear to be unnecessary. In support of this contention it is stated that Article 6 of the militia law provides that an inhabitant of the Kingdom who is not Dutch will not be required for obligatory military service if he belongs to a country where a Dutch subject who is established therein is not subject to military service. (—This provision, however, would not seem to cover the question should at any time conscription exist in the United States—)

With regard to Article 2 of the draft the note states that the right of prosecution and punishment can only be set aside by a formal treaty.

With regard to Article 3 of the draft the note states that the Netherland Government can not without thorough examination agree to a proposal so little in harmony with Dutch law.

The note states that the Netherland Government must also reserve its opinion with regard to Article 4.

The note concludes that perhaps it would be advisable to await the results of the Conference for the Codification of International Law which will be held at The Hague in 1930 before attempting to reach a solution of the general problem of dual nationality.

It will be observed that the above-mentioned note is satisfactory only in part in that the Foreign Office agrees in principle to consider a treaty applying to naturalized persons but postpones for further consideration and discussion the question of the status of persons born in the United States of Netherland parents. Articles 1 and 2 of the draft treaty have not met with any objection on the part of the Dutch authorities. Article 3 is objected to because it is not in harmony with Dutch law but a further study and discussion of this question may bring about a solution. As regards Article 4 it would not seem that an agreement is impossible for as stated in the last sentence of the fifth paragraph of the note the Minister of Defense has the power “to accord exemption for special cases which makes it possible to exonerate even persons possessing a dual nationality”. In actual practice the Minister of Defense almost invariably grants exemption to persons of dual nationality when the matter is brought to his attention by the Legation.

The attitude of the Foreign Office toward an informal agreement is quite clear. They consider it unnecessary as regards Article 1 and 2 of the draft and they are not prepared to negotiate such an agreement as regards Article 4. The Minister of Defense is apparently unable by an informal agreement to waive the provisions of the militia law granting him discretionary power to set aside the obligation of military [Page 469] service in cases of dual nationality. The adoption of our suggestions in this respect would require a revision of certain features of the militia law. The Foreign Office would not undertake such a revision for the purpose of negotiating an informal agreement but there is nothing in its note which would deny the possibility of a revision by means of a formal treaty which would give the necessary legislative sanction.

Therefore, although it may be possible to secure a provisional agreement as regards Articles 1 and 2 it may be preferable not to press this point but to concentrate upon the negotiation of a formal treaty to which plan the Foreign Office has raised no specific objection. The Legation would be glad to be instructed by the Department in the premises.

The Chief of the Treaty Section, Mr. Beucker Andreae, is now on his vacation but is expected to return in ten days at which time I will discuss the above-mentioned note with him in detail and report further to the Department.

I have [etc.]

Hallett Johnson
  1. None printed.
  2. See instruction No. 583, December 1, 1928, to the Chargé in Estonia, Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. i, p. 500.
  3. Not printed.