The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

No. 235 Political

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith two copies of League of Nations Document C.82.1932.VI. containing the Protocol of Agreement concluded on October 31, 1931, between the British and French Governments for the settlement of the question of the frontier between Syria and the Jebel Druze on the one hand, and Transjordan on the other.1

This Agreement was submitted to the Council of the League of Nations for approval on January 30, 1932.2 The rapporteur, in presenting this question to the Council, recalled the fact that the boundary between the territories detached from the former Ottoman Empire and placed under the British and French mandates, was defined in the Franco-British Convention of December 23, 1930 [1920], which was registered with the League Secretariat on February 6, 1924.3

The first section of the frontier thus determined, mainly, the Syria-Palestine section, extending from the Mediterranean to El-Hammé (situated south-cast of the Lake of Tiberias) formed the object of a protocol concerning the boundary lines which was ratified by an exchange of notes signed on March 7, 1923, by the two mandatory powers and registered with the League Secretariat on February 6, 1924.4

The second section of this line comprises the Syria-Iraq frontier boundary which was dealt with by the League Council at its meeting held in Paris in December, 1931.5 In accordance with a request by the British and French Governments, the Council then agreed in principle to define the frontier between Syria and Iraq with the assistance of a commission which would be appointed to collect appropriate information on the spot.

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The third section, situated between the two sections mentioned above, is the frontier between Syria and the Jebel Druze on the one hand, and Transjordan on the other which the Council was asked to approve.

The rapporteur, in submitting the agreement to the Council for approval, made the following explanation concerning the reasons for the changes in the boundary line:

“I thought it my duty to enquire of the Representatives of the two Governments on the Council as to the reasons for the line adopted in this agreement.

“According to the information which I thus obtained, an experience of eleven years, during which mutual goodwill prevented any serious incident, has proved that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to keep strictly in this sector to the stipulations of the agreement of December 23rd 1920. The modifications which the two Governments have made in these provisions have been inspired by the desire not to disturb the populations in the exercise of their rights and customs, to increase security by facilitating administration, and to ensure, in the present and in the future, the security of the vital communications between Iraq and Transjordan towards the Mediterranean. The arrangement which is submitted to us today appears to us to strike an equitable balance between these different factors, particularly as, after defining the frontier, it lays down the main lines of an agreement of ‘bon voisinage’ which will give the populations of the boundaries every facility for carrying on their daily life on either side of the frontier.”

The Council then passed a resolution approving the agreement. There was no opposition in principle among the members of the Council to the approval of the agreement, but the Italian member, while giving his assent in this case, objected to the procedure followed by the two parties in submitting the relevant documentation immediately before the meeting of the Council, thus allowing practically no time for studying the question. He also objected to the parties not having submitted the question to the Permanent Mandates Commission for its examination. He stated, however, that he was satisfied that the boundary was an appropriate one, and that he was raising the question merely as a protest against the procedure in this case forming a precedent.

The enclosed mimeographed copies of Document C.82.1932.VI were furnished the Consulate by the Secretariat pending the issuance of this document in printed form as an annex to the Minutes of the Council. As regards the maps mentioned in connection with this Protocol, the Secretariat was not provided by the two governments with sufficient copies for them to be distributed. It is suggested, however, that should the matter be of interest to the Department, the maps might be obtained either from the British or French Government through our Embassy in London or in Paris.

Respectfully yours,

Prentiss B. Gilbert
  1. League of Nations, Official Journal, March 1932, p. 798.
  2. Ibid., p. 503.
  3. League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. xxii, p. 354.
  4. Ibid., p. 363.
  5. See League of Nations, Official Journal, December 1931, p. 2372.