882.01 Foreign Control/72: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Dawes) to the Secretary of State

53. From Reber: The meeting of the Liberian committee has been postponed until February 27th. If Henderson has not then returned from Paris he will probably designate the chairmanship either to Cecil36 or Dalton.37

From preliminary informal conversations with members of the League Secretariat it appears that they are anxious to send to Liberia two experts who would study general administrative, financial and allied questions of reform, which would then be telegraphed to the committee and referred by it to the League Council in May. In addition to the time I foresee difficulties in this plan in that any further delay will make more difficult the ultimate acceptance by Liberia of the necessary authority to be granted any foreign officials and consider that the committee should first meet the main question which I believe to be that of how far the committee may properly go to insure that recommended reforms will be carried out. Sanctions for their effective execution, I should think, might be adopted by agreement in the committee on the ground that Libera has itself asked for advice, aid and assistance in the appointment of advisers. This question is one that will ultimately have to be solved and I feel it is important that it should at once be discussed by the committee rather than await the details of the experts’ report.

The League people consider that there is insufficient material here from which the committee might make its definite recommendations for administrative authority and reforms and apparently believe that [Page 674] this group has little authority on which to proceed even in making a decisive report to the Council. From informal conversations I judge that British tend to agree with my point of view.

I would appreciate the Department’s instructions as to whether I should proceed with discussions along this line with members of the British Foreign Office, who moreover are in absolute accord as regards the ineffectiveness of any system of advisers without adequate sanctions.

Another point has been raised by members of the League Secretariat which includes the question of what documents may be made part of the committee records. I have been requested to furnish, if possible, Dr. Smith’s report on sanitation, a copy of which I have with me.

An early reply would be greatly appreciated in view of the fact that both British and League officials desire to continue these preliminary conversations prior to the meeting on Friday. [Reber.]

  1. Lord Robert Cecil of Chelwood.
  2. Hugh Dalton, British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.