500.A15A4 General Committee/37: Telegram

The Acting Chairman of the American Delegation (Gibson) to the Acting Secretary of State

145. The draft resolution submitted by the British delegation and quoted textually in the delegation’s telegram 132, April 20, 3 p.m., passed the General Commission unanimously this morning in the following amended form:

“Without prejudice to the other proposals which fall to be discussed under later heads of the agenda, the Conference declares its approval of the principle of qualitative disarmament, that is, the selection of certain classes or descriptions of weapons, the possession or the use of which should be absolutely prohibited to all states, or internationalized by international convention”.

Titulesco (Rumania) withdrew his proposal (referred to in the delegation’s telegram 140, April 21, 6 p.m.) declaring his satisfaction with the amended form of the British text. Bolivia and Cuba as supporters of the Titulesco resolution likewise declared their satisfaction. Tardieu in accepting the amended text of the British resolution declared that it gave full satisfaction to his delegation and concluded with an appeal to the press for a more optimistic point of view in considering temporary setbacks which must inevitably occur in the work of the General Commission.

Nadolny (Germany) in offering his adherence to the British text stated that qualitative disarmament could not be achieved by internationalization but rather by actual destruction of weapons. He suggested that Germany had set an example in those classes of weapons to be destroyed which might afford the Commission a useful example.

The President then stated as the principle of qualitative disarmament had been accepted by the General Commission there remained several draft resolutions for consideration, notably the Danish, Italian and American resolutions which dealt primarily with the method of achieving it. He therefore suggested that the General Commission determine upon a method of procedure. To carry out this suggestion Sir John Simon offered a draft resolution which I supported with a slight amendment to include the idea of relation to national defense. It was subsequently incorporated by a hastily composed drafting committee and was unanimously adopted in the following form:

“In seeking to apply the principle of qualitative disarmament as defined in the previous resolution (Conference Document CG–26 [Page 103] (1)) the Conference is of the opinion that the range of land, sea and air armaments should be examined by the competent special commissions with a view to selecting those weapons whose character is the most specifically offensive or those most efficacious against national defense or those most threatening to civilians”.

In support of this resolution he maintained that the Conference should not limit itself to the consideration of one branch of warfare but should consider the whole range of weapons in land, sea and air armaments. In this connection he referred to the American resolution which was limited to land, armaments and added that he understood from Mr. Gibson’s speech that he was ready to consider other arms in due course.

The Commission then adjourned until Monday in a happier frame of mind than has been evident in its discussions of the last few days and the President expressed the hope that the technical commissions would take occasion to meet not later than Monday morning. He announced an important meeting of the Bureau of the Conference tomorrow.

The Secretary did not attend the meeting of the Commission.