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

No. 1164

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s No. 1092 of December 3, 1932,1a forwarding copy of a Note dated November 26, 1932, addressed by the Diplomatic Corps to the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs2 and in which were made further proposals aimed at bringing about the long delayed reform and reorganization in the Special Tribunal (Special Court).

After a delay of more than four months the Ethiopian Government, having in the meanwhile been at various times pressed for action by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, has sent a written reply which makes no important commitments but which is considered by the Corps as perhaps sufficient to keep open the negotiations with a view to eventual reform. This latest Ethiopian Note, dated March 31, 1933, is herewith enclosed in the French translation from the original Amharic as prepared in the French Legation. It is accompanied by an English translation made in this office from the French.

This note has been to date only superficially considered by the Diplomatic Corps and further study will be necessary before it makes final decision as to the next step to be taken. The first impression of the Corps is disappointment that the Ethiopians accept the formation at this time of only one commission in place of the two proposed and considered essential by it in its Note of November 26th, 1932. My colleagues also interpret the last line of the attached Note as aimed at creating further breaches in cooperation between the various Consuls exercising judicial functions because it would encourage a different procedure for the treatment of each case. My colleagues have considered that the best chances for success in the reform move would be to hold their Consuls to a uniform attitude and course of procedure in their attendance and functioning at the Special Tribunal. If in each instance [Page 852] there is to be a special accord between the Judge of the Special Tribunal and the Consul there will naturally develop opportunity for the Ethiopians to play one Consul against the other, and break down unity and harmony of action, in the rules and regulations to be followed in the conduct of mixed cases. …

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Respectfully yours,

Addison E. Southard

The Ethiopian Imperial Government to the Diplomatic Corps at Addis Ababa

The Imperial Government has the honor to acknowledge receipt of the Diplomatic Corps’ note of November 26th, 1932, and is inclined to believe that the Special Tribunal may immediately resume its regular activity.

The Imperial Government is gratified by the acceptance which the Diplomatic Corps was good enough to accord to its decision to designate a special official to execute the judgments already rendered.

All steps will be taken toward giving complete satisfaction as soon as possible, but it can be readily understood that no formal engagement can be given that all hitherto unexecuted judgments can certainly be executed within the period of six months to which the note of last November 26th refers.

In the event of divergent views, the Ministry of Justice in those cases involving an execution against an Ethiopian debtor, or the Foreign Office in those involving execution against a foreign debtor, can be charged with the matter.

The Imperial Government itself has taken the initiative in proposing, as an exceptional measure, the formation of a Mixed Commission to study the laws of procedure. The formation of this Commission and the beginning of its work should not be made to wait upon the creation of another commission. As soon as the Commission to study laws of procedure reaches a successful conclusion of its work, the possibility of forming a new commission can be contemplated.

During the work of the Commission to consider a draft law of procedure and pending the termination of its work, questions relative to:

Execution of judgments rendered since the resumption of the Special Tribunal’s functions (paragraph 6 of the note of November 26, 1932)
The form of hearings (paragraphs 9 and 10 of the same note)
The provisional application of the settlements contemplated in the note of August 25th, 1932 (last paragraph of the note of November 26, 1932)

will be considered and adjusted in practice by mutual agreement between the judge and the consul in each specific case.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1932, vol. ii, p. 670.
  3. File translation revised by the editors.