The French Chargé (Henry) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honor to advise Your Excellency that on July 29, 1937, there was signed at London, between the French Government and the British Government, a Convention concerning the abolition of the rights and privileges of a capitulatory character which are enjoyed by Great Britain in Morocco. This Convention was accompanied by an exchange of letters between the French [Page 863] Ambassador at London and the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

The settlement concluded provides that the British consular courts in Morocco will be abolished on the entry into force of the Convention, that is to say, January 1, 1938.

On that date British nationals will become subject to trial in the French courts of the Sheriffian Empire under the same conditions as foreigners belonging to other States which have already renounced the capitulatory regime. Likewise, the right of protection will cease to be exercised by Great Britain over certain subjects of the Sultan of Morocco employed in British Consulates or business firms. Nevertheless, in order to take account of certain acquired rights, the persons concerned, the list of whom will be established by the Residency General of France in Morocco and the Consul General of England at Rabat in the course of the first half of 1938, will be subject, as long as they live, to the jurisdiction of the French courts for all cases not arising from Mohammedan religious law. In accordance with instructions which I have just received, I have the honor to transmit, herewith, to Your Excellency the text of the Franco-Britannic Convention and of its annexes. In proceeding to this communication, I wish to express to Your Excellency the keen interest which my Government would take in the conclusion with the Government of the United States of an agreement similar to that which it has just concluded with the British Government.

The United States enjoys in Morocco the capitulatory regime by virtue of the treaty concluded between the two powers on September 16, 1836.13 Article 25 of this Convention reads as follows:

“The present treaty shall be in force, God helping, during fifty years; at the expiration of that term, it shall continue to be binding on the two powers until one of them has notified its intention to depart therefrom by notice twelve months in advance, in which case the effects thereof shall cease at the expiration of the twelve months”.

The above-mentioned Convention between the United States and Morocco not having been denounced, the United States continues to benefit by the capitulatory régime in Morocco. In fact, following the conclusion of the Franco-Britannic agreement it remains today the last power in a position to avail itself of that régime.

In advising Your Excellency of the desire of my Government to conclude with the American Government an agreement which would put an end to this régime, I take the liberty of recalling to Your Excellency that during the Conference of Montreux which ended the [Page 864] régime of the capitulations in Egypt, the representative of the American Government made declarations indicating the conciliatory spirit in which the American Government intended to settle this question. In fact, in the course of the inaugural meeting of this Conference, the delegate of the United States invoked “the good neighbor policy advocated by President Roosevelt”, to affirm “the greatest sympathy for the purposes set forth by the Royal Egyptian Government”14 in view of the abolition of the capitulations in Egypt. These declarations have given my Government reasons to think that, like the British Government, the American Government will be willing to consent to the abolition of the régime of capitulations in Morocco.

Furthermore, in recognizing, some years ago, the French protectorate in Morocco,15 the Government of the United States has already given to the French Government a proof of its friendship and of the sympathy with which it has welcomed the work undertaken by France in the Sheriffian Empire. This work, which is today consolidated, constitutes one of the principal factors of peace in Africa and in other parts of the world. The French Government believes that for the happy continuation of its task, it is desirable that a state of things signifying unity in all domains be substituted for a régime carrying certain privileges, the maintenance of which may appear as a limitation of its own sovereignty. It would, therefore, appreciate at its true value the new proof of friendship which the American Government would give to it today by consenting to conclude an agreement on the same bases as the Franco-Britannic agreement.

It goes without saying that American nationals would enjoy, like British nationals in Morocco, a régime in agreement with the general treaties and with Sheriffian legislation. For this purpose, I have the honor to send with the present communication the text of the Dahir of August 12, 1913,16 on the present state of this legislation. This text defines the civil status of Frenchmen and foreigners in Morocco, thanks to a codification of the most liberal rules of international private law.

In the view of my Government, the question of the abolition of the capitulatory régime enjoyed by the United States in Morocco might be settled either by a special Convention to be negotiated on the bases of the Franco-Britannic Convention of July 29, 1937, or by an exchange of letters.

This latter procedure, which would conform to that employed for admitting the United States to the benefit of the régime reserved for States members of the League of Nations in the mandated countries [Page 865] of Syria and Palestine, would offer the advantage of being more expeditious. The exchange of letters might bear effect beginning with the first of January, 1938. As to the establishment of the list of the ex-American protégés, it might be drawn up within a period of six months by agreement between the Residency General at Rabat and the competent American Consular authority.

In case Your Excellency might agree to the procedure of the exchange of letters, I think I should submit to you, herewith, a draft text.17

I may add that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic is entirely prepared to give to the Embassy of the United States at Paris all supplementary explanations which the Embassy of the United States sit Paris might desire to receive regarding the Franco-Britannic negotiations which have just come to a successful conclusion. In fact, it appears that the Franco-American conversations might be carried on more fruitfully at Paris because of the facilities which the American experts would have for coming into touch with the high magistrates and the officials of the protectorate of France in Morocco.

In expressing the hope that the Government of the United States will be good enough to exert itself for the purpose of giving satisfaction to the legitimate desire of my Government to put an end in Morocco to a situation which appears to be incompatible with present conditions, I would be very much obliged to Your Excellency if you would be so kind as to advise me as soon as may be practicable of the reception given to the proposal of Mr. Yvon Delbos.18

Please accept [etc.]

Jules Henry
  1. William M. Malloy (ed.), Treaties, Conventions, etc., Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776–1909 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910), vol. i, p. 1212.
  2. See draft statement, p. 639.
  3. See note of January 15, 1917, to the French Ambassador, Foreign Relations, 1917, p. 1094.
  4. For text, see P.-Louis Riviere, Traités, Codes et Lois du Maroc, vol. 3, p. 2.
  5. Not printed.
  6. French Minister for Foreign Affairs.