The Minister in the Netherlands (Emmet) to the Secretary of State
No. 245

Sir: I have the honor to report that the first meeting of the Commission of Arbitration set up under the Italo-Abyssinian Treaty of August 2, 1928, took place in Milan in the first week of June. At that time, as the Department has already been informed by the Consul in Geneva, The Hague was selected as next place of meeting. Although the movements of the various members of the Commission were kept secret for some mysterious reason, they finally turned up at Scheveningen on Monday, the 24th of June, and held a first session on Tuesday, the 25th.

The Abyssinian delegates, Professor Pitman B. Potter (American) and M. de la Pradelle (French) established themselves at the Grand Hotel, and the Italian delegation, Counts Aldrovandi Marescotti and Montagna, went to the Palace Hotel. The actual meetings of the Commission take place at either one or the other of these hotels and therefore have so far been extremely informal. On Wednesday of next week the first pleadings before the Commission will be made by the representatives or agents of the two States involved. I understand that these will be for Italy Signor Lessona23 and for Abyssinia M. Jèze, legal counselor of the Ethiopian Legation in Paris.

The questions which are being discussed and which this Commission will attempt to settle are the various border incidents, including the most important one of Wal-Wal, which is said to contain in itself all the problems involved in the others and the settlement of which would erase many others from the agenda. The two groups of delegates exchanged long memoranda on Tuesday, covering all aspects of the subject. They have since been occupied with the study of these memoranda and have now prepared, by mutual agreement, a list of those items upon which there is disagreement. With this list before them, the Commission will attempt, after the pleadings of the two agents, to arrive at an amicable settlement without recourse to a fifth arbitrator. Should, however, no progress be made by July 25th, it has been agreed that a fifth member will be chosen to sit on the Commission.

Yesterday Mr. Wilson24 went to see Professor Potter and asked him to say as much as he could for confidential transmission to the Department. The information given above is taken chiefly from what Professor Potter said. Although at first unwilling to speak frankly, he finally expressed an opinion which is somewhat startling in view of reports from Rome and other quarters. Briefly, it was [Page 610] that the Italian memorandum had been very reasonable and conciliatory in tone and that he was of the opinion now that Italy meant to come to some agreement concerning the numerous border incidents under discussion,—at least that he did not see any reason, from a study of the two memoranda exchanged, “why an agreement might not be reached”.

Professor Potter is leaving for London this morning “to see some friends who are there” and will return after the week-end. He is calling at the Legation as soon as he returns and I hope to be able to keep the Department accurately informed concerning the further meetings of the Commission of Arbitration.

Respectfully yours,

Grenville T. Emmet
  1. Alessandro Lessona, Italian Under Secretary for Colonies.
  2. W. M. Wilson, First Secretary of Legation.