The Minister in Ethiopia ( Southard ) to the Secretary of State

No. 899

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s No. 852 of November 9th, 1931, forwarding for the information of the Department copies of four documents2 containing Ethiopian proposals (presumably drafted by the Swiss Jacques Auberson as adviser to the Special Court) for reform in procedure and administration of the Ethiopian Special Court—or Tribunal as it is often called—in Addis Ababa.

Nothing more has been heard of these documents but the Legation has heard by underground route that the attitude of the British, French and Italian legations has so annoyed Maitre Jacques Auberson, as he likes to be called, that he has influenced his Ethiopian superiors to suspend for a while consideration of any change in the Special Court.

I have known, and have made brief reference accordingly in previous reports,2 that my British, French and Italian colleagues have instructed their Consular officers to refrain from further attendance at the Special Court until some progress could be made in procuring execution on judgments previously given and until there should be appointed a judge sufficiently honest and instructed to permit a fair trial of cases coming before the Court. My colleagues have accused the Ethiopian judge of on occasion combining his judicial functions with activity as lawyer or counsellor for the Ethiopian party to the case. I am inclined to believe that my colleagues have reason in the premises.

At any rate a meeting of the Diplomatic Corps occurred on February 13th, 1932, at which the three colleagues mentioned brought up this subject and invited the Belgian, German and American representatives to join them in their “strike” against the Special [Page 660] Court. The British and French Ministers also took the Italian Chargé d’Affaires to task for having recently permitted his Consul to attend the Special Court in violation of the informal and confidential agreement between the three. The Italian plead special circumstances,” but promised that he would not again permit his Consul to attend the Special Court unless by agreement with his colleagues. After some discussion of the proposal for united action by the Diplomatic body I represented that the British, French and Italians had so many more cases and so much more to complain about and that as I had no specific complaint to date I didn’t feel that I could join in the “strike” at present. My Belgian colleague felt the same way about the situation. My German colleague was willing to join. However, as unanimous action didn’t seem practicable the British, French and Italians decided to continue the “strike” as a three-party one until further developments.

Respectfully yours,

Addison E. Southard
  1. None printed.
  2. None printed.