The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Henderson) to the American Ambassador in Great Britain (Dawes)1
Your Excellency: I have the honour to invite a reference to Lord Monteagle’s letter No. E 751/245/93 of February 18th, 1929, to Mr. Atherton2 regarding the proposed new Anglo-Iraqi Judicial Agreement and the position of United States nationals in Iraq in judicial matters.
- As Your Excellency is aware, the position of the nationals of the United States in judicial matters in Iraq is regulated by the Convention between the United Kingdom, Iraq and the United States, signed on January 9th, 1930,3 under Article 1 of which the application of the Anglo-Iraqi Judicial Agreement of March 25th, 1924,4 is extended to United States nationals. Article 6 of the Convention further lays down that no modification of the special relations existing between His Britannic Majesty and the King of Iraq, as defined in Article 1 (other than the termination of such special relations as contemplated in Article 7 of the Convention) shall make any change in the rights of the United States as defined in the Convention, unless such change has been assented to by the Government of the United States.
- It was explained in Lord Monteagle’s letter of February 18th 1929
that His Majesty’s Government for the reasons set forth in that
letter, and in the memorandum which accompanied it, had decided in
February 1929, to approach the Council of the League of Nations with
a request that they should approve in principle the abolition of the
Anglo-Iraqi Judicial Agreement of March 25th, 1924, and the
institution of a uniform system of justice in its place; and that
they should authorise His Majesty’s Government in the United [Page 598]Kingdom to prepare, for
submission to the Council at a later session, detailed proposals in
collaboration with the Iraqi Government. The Council, at its meeting
on March 9th, 1929, granted to His Majesty’s Government the general
authorisation required. The draft of a new Judicial Agreement to
replace the Agreement of 1924 was accordingly negotiated with the
Iraqi Government and was eventually initialled at Bagdad on June
30th by the representatives of His Majesty’s Government in the
United Kingdom and the Iraqi Government, and submitted to the
Council of the League at its Session of September 1930. The Council
referred this draft Agreement to the Permanent Mandates Commission
for examination at its November session, and that body reported to
the Council that it had come to the conclusion that the new
Agreement, while abolishing the special privileges granted to the
nationals of certain foreign states under the Agreement of March
25th, 1924, seemed to offer to all foreigners in Iraq the essential
guarantees for the proper dispensation of justice, and also an
improvement in criminal procedure in favour of all persons in the
country subject to Iraqi criminal jurisdiction. On January 22nd last
the Council of the League approved the new Judicial Agreement in a
resolution in the following terms:—
“The Council, considering the opinion submitted to it by the Mandates Commission to the effect that it sees no objection to the approval, subject to the consent of the powers concerned, of the draft of a new Judicial Agreement between the British Government and the Government of Iraq, initialled at Bagdad on June 30th, 1930, approves the terms of the Agreement of June 30th, 1930, subject to the consent of the powers whose nationals enjoyed privileges under the Agreement of March 25th, 1924”.
- The fourteen Powers concerned have now all signified their willingness to accept the new regime, and the Secretary-General of the League of Nations was accordingly informed on March 21st last that His Majesty’s Government proposed forthwith to bring the new Agreement, which was signed in Bagdad by the High Commissioner for Iraq and the Iraqi Prime Minister on March 4th,5 into force as soon as possible. A copy of the new Agreement is enclosed herein.
- I now have the honour to request that Your Excellency will inform your Government that His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland desire to obtain the assent of the United States Government under Article 6 of the Convention between the United Kingdom, Iraq and the United States signed on January 9th, 1930, and of which ratifications were exchanged on February 24th, 1931 to the substitution of the Judicial Agreement signed on March 4th, 1931, for the Agreement of March [Page 599]25th, 1924, and to the application of the former to United States nationals in Iraq in the place of the existing régime.
- In making this request to you, I have the honour to enclose herein a copy of an explanatory note in which the extent to which the position of foreigners in judicial matters in Iraq will be affected by the new Agreement is explained, together with an extract from a draft law amending the Bagdad Criminal Procedure Regulations, which gives effect to certain provisions in the new Agreement and in the note annexed thereto.6 In the opinion of His Majesty’s Government the new Agreement will establish the position of nationals of all foreign states in Iraq in judicial matters, not only on an equal, but also on a firmer and more equitable, basis. I desire in particular to draw your attention to the fact that, as will be seen from the contents of the explanatory note enclosed herein, no United States national will, in practice suffer on account of the withdrawal of existing judicial privileges.
I have [etc.]