882.01 Foreign Control/16: Telegram

The Chargé in Liberia (Reber) to the Secretary of State


11. Department’s 12, January 17, 4 p.m. Having received instructions from their Governments to make strong representations to the Government here in regard to the International Commission’s findings, my British and German colleagues and I this afternoon called upon Edwin Barclay.

I stated that I did not consider it necessary at this time to recall to him the views of my Government concerning conditions which the International Commission of Inquiry had found to exist, as these had already been communicated to the Liberian Government in notes previously delivered. Since then there had been no satisfactory evidence of Liberia’s sincerity in expressing a desire for reform and the Liberian program as submitted does not comply with the International Commission’s recommendations and therefore can be considered only as partial and unsatisfactory. I explained that, while assumption of exclusive responsibility by the United States for measures looking toward effectively terminating these conditions in Liberia would not accord with traditional American policy, this Government was prepared to be associated with other Governments in such measures as were intended to aid in solving Liberia’s problems. Should the Liberian Government accordingly apply to the League of Nations for aid, assistance, and possible international supervision, the American Government would present no objections.

The British Chargé thereupon read a memorandum of his Government’s instructions reviewing the unsatisfactory nature of Liberia’s program and stating the British Government’s feeling that Liberia could not execute effectively the necessary reforms without some form of international control. The Government of Liberia was strongly urged by Great Britain to request from the League Council an international governing commission on which Liberia would be represented. Refusal on Liberia’s part could not but react unfavorably upon the friendly relations existing between the two countries.

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The German representative, acting upon instructions, then read a communication to the effect that the German Government, which did not regard the reform program as submitted to the League Secretariat as satisfactory, considered Liberia would not be able effectively to carry out the recommended reforms without an international commission of control. Should Liberia apply for such a commission, the German Government would be willing to use its influence before the League Council in support of this Liberian request.

Barclay then replied that these suggestions might be deemed to imply an infringement upon the sovereignty of Liberia, but Liberia must bow to the world’s opinion and would not be averse to applying for aid and advice to the League of Nations. He was gravely concerned, he added, but must consult his Cabinet before he made a definite reply to the representations. He promised an answer on January 23.