The Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Secretary of the International Missionary Council (Warnshuis)

My Dear Dr. Warnshuis: I have received your letter of August 29, 1935, with further reference to the presence of American missionaries in Ethiopia.

With respect to the various questions raised in the third paragraph of your letter I wish to inform you as follows:

(1) The situation which has caused the Department to advise American philanthropic and religious organizations to withdraw their personnel from Ethiopia is as controlling in the case of medical missionaries as it is with reference to all other missionaries. The Department must therefore reiterate, in connection with your inquiry concerning medical missionaries, that the situation developing in Ethiopia is likely to prove extremely dangerous to foreign personnel operating in that country, which danger is emphasized by the practical impossibility of extending effective protection, and that the continued presence of American nationals in Ethiopia is not conducive to the best interests of the United States and may prove extremely embarrassing to this Government.

(2) Article 11 of the Convention for the Amelioration of the Wounded and the Sick of Armies in the Field (Bed Cross Convention), signed at Geneva July 27, 1929,92 provides that

“A recognized society of a neutral country may only lend the services of its sanitary personnel and formations to a belligerent [Page 888] with the prior consent of its own Government and the authority of such belligerent.

“The belligerent who has accepted such assistance shall be required to notify the enemy before making any use thereof.”

On the basis of the principle laid down in this Article it might be contended that individuals who desire to participate in activities of this kind are required to obtain the consent of their respective governments, and that the belligerent who has accepted such assistance is required to notify the enemy before making any use thereof.

(3) It is the Department’s understanding that the American Red Cross is taking no action at the present time with respect to the situation in Ethiopia and will not do so in the absence of action in the premise by the International Red Cross Societies.

Although the foregoing may not specifically answer all the questions raised in your letter, it is believed that the information supplied is of such a nature as to permit you to come to general conclusions with respect to the questions which you appear to be studying. I am sure that in this connection you will understand the Department’s practice of avoiding specific answers to hypothetical questions, as it cannot forecast the precise course of developments in particular instances.

I may add that the Ethiopian Legation at Paris notified the Swiss Federal Council on July 15, 1935, of Ethiopia’s adherence to the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick of Armies in the Field. It is understood that Ethiopian adherence will become effective on January 15, 1936.

Sincerely yours,

Wallace Murray