The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Sweden (Morehead)

No. 73

Sir: The Department has received your despatch No. 283 of June 23, 1931, concerning the proposed convention on nationality and military service between the United States and Sweden, which was the subject of the Department’s instruction No. 86 of December 1, 1928, and the Legation’s despatch No. 458 of January 10, 1929.

The draft convention submitted by the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs has been given careful consideration by the Department. In view of the conditions contained in Article 1, which relates to termination of dual nationality, it is not regarded as acceptable to this Government, and, as it does not seem likely that it would be possible to reach an agreement upon this subject which would be acceptable to both governments, the Department considers that it would be desirable to limit the convention to the subject matter of Article 2, which relates to military service in cases of dual nationality. The Department is prepared to accept the phraseology of Article 2 proposed by the Swedish Government, which is similar to the first paragraph of Article 1 of the multilateral “Protocol Relating to Military Obligations in Certain Cases of Double Nationality”, adopted at the Hague Conference on Codification of International Law21 and subsequently signed by the United States and Sweden. In substance this draft appears to be similar to the draft proposed by the Department in its instruction of December 1, 1928, mentioned above, except that it is limited to exemption from “military obligations”, while the Department’s draft, based upon the Resolution of Congress of May 28, 1928, is somewhat broader, including not only “military service” but also “any other act of allegiance”. It appears from the note of June 10, 1931, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a copy of which accompanied your despatch, that Swedish authorities have found difficulty in “determining with precision the exact meaning to be given to the expression ‘any other act of allegiance’”. From your despatch it appears that the Swedish authorities have gotten the impression that the expression “any other act of allegiance” relates to the taking of an oath of allegiance. The Department, however, does not interpret the phrase in this way, but considers that it refers to any action required of an individual as an incident to his permanent allegiance, or nationality. Examples would be found in compulsory labor or the payment of a tax based upon the permanent allegiance or nationality of the individual. You may explain this point to the appropriate [Page 761]authorities and suggest that the phrase “military obligations” in the Swedish draft be expanded to read “military or other obligations incident to permanent allegiance”. However, if the Swedish authorities are unwilling to agree to this change, you are authorized to sign a convention containing, as Article 1, the phraseology of Article 2 of the Swedish draft. In this case, Article 3 of the Swedish draft would become Article 2.

If the suggestions made above are agreed to it would seem desirable to make certain slight changes in phraseology in lines 3 to 5 of the English text of the preamble. The words “being desirous of regulating the question of exemption from obligations of allegiance of persons” might be inserted in place of the corresponding words in the English text of the Swedish draft. Also, it might be desirable to use the word “convention” throughout in referring to the instrument which it is proposed to sign, instead of the words “agreement” and “treaty”, which appear in the English translation of the Swedish draft.

Very truly yours,

W. R. Castle, Jr.
  1. Protocol concluded at The Hague, April 12, 1930, Foreign Relations, 1930, vol. i, p. 224.