500.A15A4 Steering Committee/558: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

1085. Bureau of the Disarmament Conference adjourned this evening after adopting a resolution40 which, after noting among other [Page 19] things that the “general political and economic situation is not at present such as to ensure the success of a resumption of the work on all the questions forming part of the Conference’s programme”, provides:

That the text of the draft convention on budgetary publicity and the establishment of a permanent disarmament commission shall be communicated to all governments which “are or have been represented” at the Conference with the request that they inform the Secretariat whether they are prepared in principle to accept a system of publicity based on the convention;
To hold a further meeting of the Bureau for the purpose of considering the replies from the governments, discussing the draft convention on budgetary publicity and deciding upon appropriate measures at a date to be fixed by the League Council;
To instruct the Secretariat to collect and communicate to members of the Bureau information regarding the present status of the national control of the manufacture of and trade in arms.

In the course of the debate the majority of speakers took position with us that the time was not ripe for a resumption of the Conference in any serious [manner?]. There was no disposition on the part of any delegation to go beyond the French proposal for budgetary publicity combined with the permanent disarmament commission and the French readily accepted the British suggestion that the proposal should be communicated for consideration to all present and past members of the Conference. The so-called “Northern States” whose spokesman was Westman of Sweden also feel certain in [apparent omission] with this method although they reserved the right possibly to conclude a regional agreement bearing on budgetary publicity and the control of the manufacture of and trade in arms.

Aside from reading our statement,41 which was commended by several delegations, including the British, for its realism, I intervened in the debate only once in order to express regret that a first text of the preamble which seemed more nearly to reproduce our views, had been replaced by a second and somewhat weaker text. I was supported by the Norwegians and Japanese and on the proposal of Lord Cranborne the text was amended so as to specify that the general political and economic situation was not such as to ensure the success of a resumption of the work of the Disarmament Conference, the words “political and economic” being added. The full text of the resolution will be forwarded by registered mail.

As you will see the resolution is one of pure form and will require from us only a letter in reply to a communication from the Secretary General provided for under point 1. Personally I should have preferred no action at all by the Bureau as a more honest admission of [Page 20] the situation but I found a very general desire for some such innocuous adulterating as was taken.

  1. League of Nations, Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments, Geneva, Minutes of the Sixty-Third and Sixty-Fourth Meetings of the Bureau (Conf. D. 177), p. 15.
  2. Infra.