500.A15A4 General Committee/1032: Telegram

The American Delegate (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

975. At the request of the Chairman I opened the Committee meeting34 this afternoon with a brief explanation and restatement of the American draft, moving its adoption as a basis for discussion. This suggestion was accepted unanimously by the Committee which proceeded to a general discussion in which representatives of France, Great Britain, and Italy took part.

[Page 13]

Aubert warmly supported our proposal and gave assurances that any amendments which the French might later suggest would be solely for the purpose of giving effect to the essential principles of our proposal. He further stressed the importance of budgetary publicity as providing a most effective system of advance publicity for arms production and emphasized the necessity of coordinating the three aspects of the treaty of limited objectives, which form an inseparable whole.

Stanhope,35 while agreeing to accept the proposal as a basis for discussion, reviewed the necessity of confining the task to the limited objectives of the Bureau’s mandate. Since the proposed convention was not a proposal for limitation of arms nor its enforcement but merely to insure regulation of arms manufacture and trade, to give information with regard to increases in armaments and to provide the machinery for making embargoes effective, the functions of the Permanent Disarmament Commission should be established in a separate protocol. The basic thesis of the British intervention turned upon the necessity of simplifying the proposals to the utmost. For this purpose and to insure prompt and universal acceptance the British delegation, while prepared to accept an elaborate system of automatic and permanent supervision as part of a convention for the reduction and limitation of arms, felt that the only supervision required in a limited treaty was an examination of national returns in Geneva. An elaborate system of supervision which included investigation on the spot was not suitable in this connection. Insofar as publicity was concerned Stanhope explained that less detailed publicity than was required by the American draft would suffice. He suggested in addition to these changes in the American draft that provision be made to prohibit government credits for financing export shipment of arms. Insofar as aviation was concerned he felt that all aircraft, both civil and military, should be subjected to a similar regime of licensing and publicity for the manufacture and trade since it is impossible to differentiate between the two types of aircraft.

Ruspoli36 supported the British advocacy of simplification but questioned in fact the necessity or advisability of doing anything more at the present time than amending the 1925 convention37 so as to give it immediate effect.

In conclusion Komarnicki38 (rapporteur) pointed out that the Committee had unanimously adopted the American draft as a basis for discussion. General discussion proceeds tomorrow.

  1. Special Committee for the Regulation of the Trade in and the Private and State Manufacture of Arms and Implements of War.
  2. James Richard Stanhope, British Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and representative on the Committee.
  3. Fabrizio Ruspoli, naval representative of the Italian delegation.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. i, p. 61.
  5. Head of the Polish delegation to the General Disarmament Conference.