724.3415/1742 ½

Draft Pact of Non-Aggression of May 6, 19322


The Presidents of Paraguay and Bolivia persuaded that their nations should always be inspired in solid cooperation for justice and the general good;

That nothing is so opposed to this cooperation as the use of violence;

That there is no controversy between them, however serious it may be, which can not be arranged by a pacific settlement;

That war of aggression constitutes an international crime against the human species;

Have agreed to enter into a Pact of Non-Aggression, and for that purpose have appointed as their respective Plenipotentiaries:

The President of Paraguay, Señor Doctor Don Juan José Soler, and Señor Doctor Don César Vasconsellos;

And the President of Bolivia, Señor Doctor Don Eduardo Diez de Medina, and Señor Doctor Don Enrique Finot, who, having communicated to one another their full powers, found in good and true form, have agreed upon the following articles:

Article I

All aggression is considered illicit and as such is declared prohibited. Paraguay and Bolivia will employ all pacific means to settle [Page 9] the territorial and boundary conflict which at present exists between them in the Chaco.

Article II

The Governments of Bolivia and Paraguay declare that the incident which caused the breaking off of diplomatic relations between them in July, 1931, is completely forgiven on both sides, as no offense was intended on either side, and consequently they agree to renew as soon as possible, and not later than two months after the signature of this instrument, diplomatic relations between them by mutually accrediting Ministers to one another.

Immediately upon the signing of this Treaty diplomatic relations will be ipso facto renewed between the two Republics with the same cordiality which existed before the breaking off of relations. The diplomatic agents accredited before the Governments of both countries can resume their functions without any other formality than the notification of its Government.

Article III

In fulfillment of their desire to remove all misunderstanding between them and to settle through pacific means the conflict regarding possessions in and dominion over the Chaco, both Parties agree to enter into negotiations not later than six months after the exchange of ratifications of this instrument for a Treaty of Arbitration which both Parties will exert every possible endeavor to conclude not later than two years after the exchange of ratifications of this Treaty.

It is understood that this Treaty will provide for a definitive settlement by arbitration of the territorial and boundary question existing between them in the Chaco, the limits of which will be agreed upon in that Treaty, and that both Parties are at liberty, in presenting their cases to the Tribunal, to submit the pleas, proofs, and documents of whatever kind they may deem expedient to support their points of view and claims in the boundary and territorial question and in the matter of possessions.

It is furthermore agreed that the award of the Arbitrator or Tribunal provided for in the said Treaty shall decide the boundary and territorial question in the Chaco controversy finally and without appeal and shall be faithfully executed by the Contracting Parties.

Article IV

It is agreed and declared by both Parties that this Pact of Non-Aggression in no wise affects, alters, or impairs the juridical positions which both maintain nor their different points of view respecting the [Page 10] multiple aspects of the fundamental controversy nor their respective points of view regarding the status quo of 1907.

Article V

During the life of this Treaty neither Party will advance its extreme positions in the Chaco.

The present extreme positions of Bolivia in the Chaco are as follows:

The present extreme positions of Paraguay in the Chaco are as follows:

The above enumeration of the positions of the two parties is made solely for the purpose of maintaining peace and it is not, and can not be alleged to constitute, a recognition by either Party of the right of the other to occupy any such position or positions. This latter is a matter for determination by the arbitration referred to in Article III and this pact in no wise alters the juridical status of either Party as respects that arbitration.

Upon the signing of this Treaty, the Contracting Parties agree not to effect mobilizations or concentration of troops in the Chaco nor to engage in any act which could be considered as a preparation of hostilities.

Both Parties will immediately give categoric instructions to the commanders of their forces in the Chaco to prevent them from coming into contact with those of the other Party. If, on account of movements of troops, or for any other reason, an armed group belonging to one of the Contracting Parties should come face to face with an armed group belonging to the other Contracting Party, both must at once put up a white flag and each group must retire five kilometers in the direction of its own country, and the commander of each group shall communicate the occurrence to his respective Government.

Article VI

Should there unfortunately be conflicts between two armed groups of the two Parties or should either Party allege that the other Party is making advances in the Chaco, a joint civilian commission formed by a representative of each Government will investigate the matter on the ground not later than thirty days after one Party has received complaint from the other regarding the incident and a request to carry out such an investigation.

If, within fifteen days, this commission is unable to reach an agreement regarding the facts or to conciliate the incident, a mixed civilian commission of five members will be appointed to proceed to make an [Page 11] investigation on the spot within thirty days thereafter and its report shall be definitive with regard to the facts. This commission will also endeavor to conciliate the two Parties regarding the incident.

Article VII

The mixed civilian commission referred to in the preceding Article will be appointed in the following manner: Each Government shall appoint two members, all nationals of American States, only one of whom may be a national of its country. The fifth member shall be chosen by common accord of the two Governments and shall perform the duty of Chairman; but a citizen of a nation already represented on the commission may not be so selected.

Unless, within five days, the two Governments are able to agree upon the fifth member, he will be designated by the President of . . . . . . . In case of resignation, death, or any other vacancy, a substitute will be appointed in the same manner as the original appointee.

The decisions and final report of the mixed civilian commission shall be agreed to by the majority of its members.

Each Party shall bear its own expenses and a proportionate share of the general expenses of the commission.

The mixed civilian Commission shall itself establish its rules of procedure. In this regard there are recommended for incorporation into the said rules of procedure the provisions contained in Articles IX, X, XI, XII, and XIII of the Convention signed in Washington February, 1923, between the Governments of the United States of America and the Governments of the Republics of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, which appear in the appendix of this Treaty.3

Article VIII

The Contracting Parties shall furnish the antecedents and data necessary for the investigation. The commission shall render its report within a maximum of sixty days from the date of its inauguration. In case the recommendations of the Commission are not accepted by the Parties or by one of them, the commission will publish its findings in the matter and its opinion thereon. The report of this commission will be considered as establishing the responsibility for the incident and which has caused the aggression or the degree of fault which has been incurred.

[Page 12]

Any Party which may have advanced beyond the positions enumerated in Article V or which may have mobilized or concentrated troops in the Chaco or have carried on any act which may be considered as preparation for hostilities will be considered an aggressor.

Article IX

The Contracting Parties agree that if this Treaty is not ratified by one of them the burden of proof shall be on the Party not ratifying the agreement to show to the representatives of the Neutral Powers in Washington, in any incident which may arise in the future, that it was not the aggressor and, in the absence of such proof, the presumption in any given instance will be that that Party is the aggressor.

Article X

The present Treaty shall be signed in duplicate and shall be ratified by the Contracting Parties in conformity with their respective constitutional procedures, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington as soon as possible.

This Treaty shall remain in effect for a period of two and a half years from the date of the exchange of ratifications. Thereafter it will remain in effect until four months after either Party has signified its intention to the other to terminate it.

In witness whereof, the above mentioned Plenipotentiaries sign this Treaty and affix their seal in the city of Washington on this . . . . . day of May, in the year one thousand nine hundred and thirty-two.


Article I

The Signatory Governments grant to all the Commissions which may be constituted the power to summon witnesses, to administer oaths and to receive evidence and testimony.

Article II

During the investigation the Parties shall be heard and may have the right to be represented by one or more agents and counsel.

Article III

All members of the Commission shall take oath duly and faithfully to discharge their duties before the highest judicial authority of the place where it may meet.

Article IV

The Inquiry shall be conducted so that both parties shall be heard. Consequently, the Commission shall notify each Party of the statements [Page 13] of facts submitted by the other, and shall fix periods of time in which to receive evidence.

Once the parties are notified, the Commission shall proceed to the investigation, even though they fail to appear.

Article V

As soon as the Commission of Inquiry is organized, it shall at the request of any of the Parties to the dispute, have the right to fix the status in which the parties must remain, in order that the situation may not be aggravated and matters may remain in statu quo pending the rendering of the report by the Commission.

  1. Original in Spanish and in English; transmitted to the Bolivian and Paraguayan delegates on May 7, 1932.

    For the report in Spanish of the inaugural session of the Bolivian-Paraguayan conference to study a pact of non-aggression, November 11, 1931 and the minutes of the several meetings, 1–6 (November 24, December 2, 9, 1931; January 18, February 25, April 15, 1932), see Republica del Paraguay, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Libro Blanco, I Parte, Documentos relativos a la conferencia de Washington para el estudio de un Pacto de no Agresión con Bolivia, a la actuación de la Comisión de Neutrales, y Trato de Prisioneros (Imprenta Nacional, Asunción, 1933). See also Republica de Bolivia, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, Memoria presentada al Congreso de 1934, Conflicto del Chaoo (La Paz, 1934), pp. 37 ff. These minutes are also in the files of the Department of State under 724.3415/1815½.)

    For history of the authorship of the “Draft Pact of Non-Aggression of May 6, 1932”, see note from Mr. White to Señor Soler, July 28, 1932, p. 41.

  2. Convention between the United States and the Central American States for the Establishment of International Commissions of Inquiry, signed at Washington, February 7, 1923, Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. i, p. 321.