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

No. 2111
L. N. No. 2054

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of a letter dated June 29, 1931, together with its enclosures, from Sir Eric Drummond, Secretary General of the League of Nations, with reference to a resolution made by the League Council by which the Secretary General was instructed to inquire of all States not members of the League which have not acceded to the 1921 Convention on Traffic in Women and Children,39 whether they will be prepared now to accede.

Sir Eric pointed out to me informally that in the reply of the State Department in 1922 to an invitation to adhere, the great interest of our Government in this work had been emphasized, but at the same time [Page 707] constitutional difficulties had prevented our undertaking the obligations of the treaty.40 He wanted me to be aware of his appreciation of the attitude of the American Government; that he was in no way endeavoring to agitate a matter to which we might have constitutional objections, but that, under the Council’s resolution, it was his duty again to bring the matter to our attention. I replied that in transmitting a copy of his note to the Secretary of State, I would at the same time mention the informal conversation between us.

Respectfully yours,

Hugh R. Wilson

The Secretary-General of the League of Nations ( Drummond ) to the American Minister in Sioitzerland ( Wilson )

Dear Mr. Wilson: You may perhaps have noticed that the Council, at its last session, passed a general resolution requesting me to enquire of all Governments not Members of the League which have not acceded to the 1921 Convention on Traffic in Women and Children, whether they would be prepared to do so.

As regards the United States, I feel a certain hesitation in transmitting this resolution in view of the State Department’s reply to a previous enquiry on March 8th, 1922, expressing the Government’s deep interest in this subject but explaining the difficulties which then prevented it from adhering to this Convention as well as to the previous Convention of May 10th, 1904.

[Page 708]

Since then, however, considerable time has passed and the situation changed by the fact that the Convention has so widely entered into international practice. Indeed, as you will note from the attached list of ratifications of Agreements and Conventions,41 thirty-six States have now finally ratified and seven others signed, subject to ratification. In view of this and of the Council’s express instructions to me, I am sure that the State Department will understand my transmitting the resolution with the thought that, in one way or another, it might possibly care to become associated with the Convention in so far as is possible.

I am [etc.]

Eric Drummond

The Secretary-General of the League of Nations ( Drummond ) to the Secretary of State

No. C.L.148.1931.IV

Sir: I have the honour to inform you that the Traffic in Women and Children Committee examined in the course of its tenth session held in April, 1931, the extent of ratifications of the 1921 Convention relating to the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children.

The Committee having arrived at the conclusion that in order effectively to suppress this traffic it was necessary that the Convention should be ratified by as large a number of countries as possible asked the Council of the League of Nations to enquire of all the Governments not Members of the League which have not acceded to the Convention whether they would be prepared to do so.

The Council having approved of this request at its meeting of the 20th May, I have the honour to submit it to the consideration of your Government. I send you under separate cover the relevant documents42 C. 227.M.166.1921 (General Report on the work of the International Conference on Traffic in Women and Children), C.267.M.122.-1931 (Report on the work of the Traffic in Women and Children Committee 10th Session) and C.336.1931.IV (Report to the Council by the Rapporteur, the Representative of Persia), as well as a certified true copy of the International Convention in question, (A.125. (3) .1921.IV.).

May I draw your attention to the fact that States acceding to the Convention undertake at the same time to accede to the 1904 Agreement and 1910 Convention, the texts of which will be found respectively on page 19 and following and page 27 and following of document C.277.M.166.1921.IV.

I have [etc.]

Eric Drummond
  1. League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. ix, p. 415.
  2. The substance of the note of March 8, 1922, to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations is as follows:

    “Article I of the Convention provides as follows:

    ‘The High Contracting Parties agree that, in the event of their not being already Parties to the Agreement of May 18th, 1904, and the Convention of May 4th, 1910, mentioned above, they will transmit, with the least possible delay, their ratifications of, or adhesions to, those instruments in the manner laid down therein.’

    As the Secretary General is doubtless aware, the Government of the United States is already a party to the Agreement of May 18, 1904. With respect, however, to the Convention of May 4, 1910, that Convention contains, as the Secretary General was informed through the American Consul at Geneva last June, projects which, it is thought, pertain under the Constitution of the United States to the police functions of the several States of the Union and which the Federal Government would not in consequence be capable of fulfilling.

    For this reason, the Government of the United States feels compelled to withhold its adherence to the Convention of 1910, and its signature to the confirmatory Convention now open at Geneva.

    The Secretary of State would not wish it to be understood, however, that the Government of the United States is not in full sympathy with the laudable purposes of the Convention. On the contrary, the suppression of the nefarious traffic in women and children is a matter in which that Government is greatly interested, and to which end Federal Statutes have been enacted which are within the purview of Congressional action.”

    The convention of May 18, 1904, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1905, p. 462, and in Malloy, Treaties, 1776–1909, vol. ii, p. 2131. The convention of May 4, 1910, is printed in British and Foreign State Papers, vol. ciii, p. 244.

  3. Not printed.
  4. Not reprinted.