The Secretary General of the League of Nations (Drummond) to the Secretary of State92

C. L. 271.1929.V.

Sir: By my circular letter of July 15th, last93 (C. L. 142.1929.V.), I had the honour to inform you that the Council of the League of Nations had decided in principle that the first Codification Conference, which is to consider the questions of Nationality, Territorial Waters, and the Responsibility of States for Damage caused in their territory to the person or property of foreigners, should meet at The Hague on March 13th, 1930.

My letter of July 15th explained the origin of the Conference and the measures which had been taken to prepare for it and gave the list of the Governments which the Council had decided to invite to the Conference, namely:

The members of the League, Brazil, Costa Rica, Free City of Danzig, Egypt, Ecuador, United States of America, Iceland, Mexico, Monaco, San Marino, Turkey and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

I at the same time forwarded to your Government the documentation submitted to the Conference, namely:

1. Bases of Discussion drawn up by the Preparatory Committee for the Conference upon the question of Nationality. (Doc. C 73.M. 38.1929.V. Bases of Discussion Volume I).

This volume contains the two reports presented to the Council by the Preparatory Committee for the Codification Conference, the list of the points which were submitted to the Governments, the replies of the Governments on each particular point and the full text of these replies, the observations of the Preparatory Committee and the bases of discussion which it has drawn up.

2. Bases of discussion drawn up by the Preparatory Committee [Page 205] for the Conference upon the question of Territorial Waters. (Doc. C. 74.M. 39.1929.V. Bases of Discussion Volume II).

This volume is arranged in the same manner as volume I.

3. Bases of discussion drawn up by the Preparatory Committee for the Conference upon the question of Responsibility of States for damage done in their territory to the person or property of foreigners. (Doc. C. 75.M. 69.1929.V. Bases of Discussion, Volume III).

This volume is arranged in the same manner as volumes I and II.

Various replies from Governments received after the communication of the above-mentioned three documents to the Council have been printed and circulated to the Governments invited to the Conference as addenda to the three main documents.

4. Draft Rules of Procedure for the Conference for the Codification of International Law (Doc. C. 190(1).M. 93.1929.V.).

5. Letter from the President of the Advisory and Technical Committee for Communications and Transit, dated March 26th, 1929, formulating certain desiderata on the subject of Territorial Waters (Doc. C. 218(1).M. 96.1929.V.).

In execution of a further decision taken by the Council on September 25th last, I have now the honour, on behalf of the Council, to convey to your Government a formal invitation to be represented at the Conference by a delegation furnished with the full powers necessary to sign such conventions or declarations as the Conference may draw up.

I beg to enclose a copy of the report made to the Council on September 25th by the representative of Italy and the resolution adopted by the Council (Document C. 480.1929.V.).94

You will observe that the Governments are invited to send to the Conference delegations sufficiently numerous to permit of the three questions on the agenda being discussed simultaneously in the committees appointed by the Conference, and that the Council has requested me specially to call the attention of the Governments to the desirability of appointing without delay their representatives at the Conference, whether plenipotentiary delegates, substitute delegates, or technical delegates, in order that the members of the Conference may be able to make a thorough study of the documentation already assembled.

As regards the composition of the delegations, I venture further to call attention to the resolution adopted by the Assembly of the League of Nations on September 24th, 1928, in the following terms:

“The Assembly, considering that the question of nationality which is on the agenda of the Conference is of special interest to women, and that Article 7 of the Covenant embodies the principle that all positions under or in connection with the League shall be open equally to men and women, expresses the hope that the Members of the League, when invited to the forthcoming Conference, will consider [Page 206] the desirability of taking these considerations into account in composing their delegations.”

As regards the subjects to be discussed by the Conference, M. Scialoja in his report to the Council thought it desirable to make special mention of the following passage in the second report of the Preparatory Committee:

“The suggestion that the Conference should deliberate on the bases |of discussion prepared by the Preparatory Committee was also prompted by a desire to facilitate the work of the Conference. In point of fact these bases of discussion were furnished by the Governments themselves, which replied to the requests submitted to them for information. The Committee merely collated their replies and brought out the points in which they are in agreement. The individual delegations will, moreover, have the fullest liberty to submit amendments. The reason why proposals which do not come within the scope of the bases of discussion can only be dealt with if this is allowed by a previous decision is to obviate the necessity for the Conference to handle questions on which, as a result of the work of the Committee of Experts and the replies received from Governments, agreement would appear to be very unlikely. Moreover, the Conference will have the fullest possible powers to allow any question to be considered.”

Finally, you will observe from the enclosed document that the Council, in agreement with the Assembly, requests those Governments which have not replied to the Preparatory Committee’s questionnaire to be so good as to do so.

The Council has appointed as President of the Conference M. Heemskerk, Netherlands Minister of State, former Prime Minister and former Minister of Justice.

The Conference will sit at the Peace Palace at The Hague but the opening meeting will be held at 11 a.m. on March 13th at the Ridderzaal.

I shall be grateful if your Government would be so good as to inform me, if possible before the end of February 1930, of the names of its delegates to the Conference.

I have [etc.]

Eric Drummond
  1. Transmitted to the Department by the Minister in Switzerland in despatch No. 1139 (L. of N. No. 1517), October 17, 1929; received October 26.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Enclosure not printed.