765.84/1725: Telegram

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

470. Consulate’s 469, October 10, 3 p.m.85

1. Members of the British delegation inform me that the parallel drawn by Aloisi between Italy’s present position and the situation [Page 771] envisaged by the British reservation to the Kellogg Pact is entirely specious. Legal adviser of the British delegation at my suggestion drew up and handed me informally the following memorandum conquestion was as follows:

“In his speech this morning Baron Aloisi quoted a passage from the note addressed by Sir Austen Chamberlain to the United States Ambassador on May 19, 192886 in connection with the negotiations which ultimately led to the conclusion of the Kellogg Pact. The passage in question was as follows:

The language of article No. I as to the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy renders it desirable that I should remind Your Excellency that there are certain regions of the world the welfare and integrity of which constitute a special and vital interest for our peace and safety. His Majesty’s Government have been at pains to make it clear in the past that interference with these regions cannot be suffered. Their protection against attack is to the British Empire a measure of self defense. It must be clearly understood that His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain accept the new treaty upon the distinct understanding that it does not prejudice their freedom of action in this respect.

The reasons which led to this statement being made and its effect are as follows. Under the Kellogg Pact if one party to it resorts to war against another party in violation of the Pact the other parties are at liberty, without violating their obligations under the Pact, to go to the assistance of the state attacked and to go to war with the attacker, but if the state attacked were not a party to the Pact this provision would not be applicable. As Sir Austen Chamberlain pointed out there are certain regions of the world “the welfare and integrity of which constitute a special and vital interest for our peace and safety.” His Majesty’s Government were therefore unable to accept the position that in the event of one of the countries in question not being a party to the Pact and being attacked by a party His Majesty’s Government should be debarred by the terms of the Pact from coming to the assistance of the country concerned. They therefore stipulated that in the event of an attack upon one of those countries by a party to the Pact they should be entitled without violating their obligations under the Pact to come to the assistance of the country concerned. The object of the statement in question was accordingly to reserve the right of His Majesty’s Government to protect the countries concerned against external aggression.

It is obvious that a statement the object of which was to secure ‘the welfare and integrity’ of the countries in question cannot be used as a justification for action whose object is to impair or destroy the integrity of a member of the League of Nations”.

He emphasized that the above information was given solely for our information and that it should in no wise be considered as officially transmitted by the delegation. He added orally the following information.

[Page 772]

“The countries covered by the reservations are Egypt and certain Arab states bordering the Persian Gulf which Great Britain is under treaty obligations to defend.

Egypt was not then a signatory of the Kellogg Pact; upon her signature the reservation lost its significance in relation to her. Italy could claim a parallel juridical position only if she had had a mutual assistance treaty with Abyssinia prior to the signature of the Kellogg Pact and some other state subsequently attacked Abyssinia. Italy would then be justified in going to war with the attacking state.”

2. The Japanese Consul General informs me that he believes his Government will be highly incensed at the portion of Aloisi’s speech “attempting to draw a parallel between the Japanese position in 1931 and the present Italian position.” He stated that he had deemed the matter of sufficient importance to telephone it to Tokyo.

3. I learn that Albania is the state which this morning reserved the right to speak at a later session, paragraph 3 of the Consulate’s telegram under reference, and that strong pressure is being brought upon her by Italy to speak.