882.01 Foreign Control/20: Telegram

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

14. My telegram No. 11, January 21, 6 p.m. The Acting Secretary of State called this evening to hand me the following unsigned memorandum:

“The President of Liberia having considered with serious attention the advice offered the Government of the Republic of Liberia, in the several notes verbales presented to him on the 21st of January 1931, by the representatives of the United States, of Great Britain and of Germany, desires to record in the name of his Government his sincere appreciation of the interest which these Governments manifest in the welfare of the Republic and in the maintenance of its international prestige.

In respect of the suggestion [that] the Government of Liberia should be committed for a time to an international governing commission, the President of Liberia is compelled to observe that acceptance thereof would not only be a violation of the constitution of the Republic, but would also be tantamount to [a] surrender of its sovereignty and autonomy. This course of action the President and Government of the Republic are without authority to undertake and it is not believed that the traditional friends of Liberia, the powers to whom this note is addressed, would intentionally insist upon it.

Possibly, as has been suggested, the measures which have been taken by the Government of Liberia may not be fully adequate or satisfactory in order to bring about the desired reforms, but it is nevertheless true that the Government of Liberia have not been advised in a concrete manner as to the respect in which the[se] measures are either inadequate or unsatisfactory.

The Liberian Government being sincerely desirous, however, of attuning their actions to international ideals, and with a view to giving evidence of their sincere will to institute the reforms indicated in the report of the International Commission of Inquiry have decided to apply to the Council of the League of Nations now in session for experts who will serve as advisers to the Government of Liberia in the following spheres of administration:

(a)
economics and finance;
(b)
judicial organization and procedure;
(c)
sanitation;
(d)
native administration.

The Government of Liberia are of the opinion that with the constructive results expected to be achieved by them on the advice of such experts, the administrative and social conditions complained of will be improved without infringing upon the autonomy and sovereignty of the Republic, and to the carrying out of this [idea, the] friendly aid and support at the Council of the League of Nations is earnestly solicited of the Governments to whom this note is addressed.”

[Page 668]

In spite of the divergence of representations the identic memoranda were delivered to the three representatives.

[Paraphrase.] Past British and American experience with the Liberian system of advisers would appear to indicate that their appointment can achieve nothing, especially since there is no assurance that advisers would be given adequate authority or that recommendations by them would be put into effect. My two colleagues and I agree concerning the unsatisfactory nature of the Liberian proposal, and we are cabling our respective Governments accordingly. The evasive tone of the Liberian reply, while less than what was anticipated, may be regarded only as an attempt to escape from the need of a commission or of fixing the essential reforms. [End paraphrase.]

Reber