The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Commerce (Lamont)30

Sir: Reference is made to previous correspondence regarding the International Convention of October 13, 1919, relating to the Regulation of Air Navigation, and especially this Department’s communications to you of March 27 and August 2, 1929.31

As you are aware, this Convention was signed with certain reservations by representatives of the United States on May 1 [31], 1920, and was transmitted by the President to the Senate on June 16, 1926, with a report from the Secretary of State containing recommendations [Page 516] that the Senate be requested to take suitable action advising and consenting to the ratification of the Convention with Articles 5 and 34 amended as recommended by the International Commission for Air Navigation in the protocols of amendment approved by the Commission October 27, 1922, and June 30, 1923, respectively, on the following conditions and understandings:

[Here follows the text of the reservations quoted in the letter to the President, printed on page 491.]

You are also aware that the convention in question is still pending before the Senate and that action thereon has been suspended pursuant to a recommendation of this Department made February 20, 1929, and based upon the statement that the Department felt that it would be inadvisable for the Senate to take action on the Convention before that Department had had an opportunity to try out its own air regulations made under authority of the Air Commerce Act of 1926.

I now transmit herewith for your information a photostat of a certified true copy of the protocol dated June 15, 1929, concerning amendments of several articles of this Convention established by the International Commission for Air Navigation at the conclusion of its recent extraordinary session at Paris of June 1929. These amendments were so established pursuant to recommendations embodied in resolutions passed at the session which was attended as well by representatives of States not parties to the Convention as by representatives of party States. The resolutions were signed by the representatives of the United States with the following reservations:

  • “1. The Delegation of the United States Reserves on the part of its Government the position that the right to permit private aircraft of a contracting State to fly over areas over which private aircraft of other contracting States may be forbidden to fly, should be accorded, providing equality of treatment is assured to all aircraft engaged in international air commerce.
  • “2. The Delegation of the United States reserves on behalf of its Government the position that the right should be accorded to each Government to enter into special treaties, conventions and agreements regarding aerial navigation, so long as such convention or special agreement does not impair the rights or obligations of any of the States parties to this Convention.
  • “3. The Delegation of the United States reserves on behalf of its Government the position that complete freedom of action as to customs matters should be accorded the contracting States.
  • “4. The Delegation of the United States gives notice on behalf of its Government that should such Government ratify the International Convention, it would probably be with reservations that its action should not be taken to involve any legal relation on the part of the United States to the League of Nations, or the assumption of any obligation by the United States under the Covenant of the League of Nations constituting Part I of the Treaty of Versailles.”

[Page 517]

As a result of these changes effected at this recent extraordinary session, it is now in order for the Department to determine what action in the premises should be recommended to the Senate.

Unless the Department of Commerce desires that the Senate further delay its action this Department, as at present advised, is prepared to recommend that the Senate approve this Convention with reservations and it would be glad to receive from you any suggestions you may care to make as to the nature or language of such reservations, as well as an expression of your views upon the broad question as to whether it is desirable that the United States should become a party to this Convention at the present time. …

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Francis White

[On December 11, 1929, a communication from the Department of Commerce expressed the view that ratification of the convention by the United States should be held in abeyance at least until such time as the amendments proposed at the extraordinary session of the International Commission were properly ratified by the several countries who were parties to the Convention (579.6D1/341).

On January 15, 1934, the convention and accompanying papers were returned to the President by the Senate, pursuant to a request by President Roosevelt, dated January 12, 1934.]

  1. Also sent, mutatis mutandis, to the Postmaster General, the Chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of the Treasury; and to the Navy and the War Departments with the addition of a final sentence reading as follows: “I would particularly like to have your advice as to whether you consider that the reservations should include one excepting the Panama Canal from the operation of this Convention.”
  2. Neither printed.