793.94/10145a: Telegram

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

141. For Harrison. On receipt of convocation to Advisory Commission,35 following instruction becomes applicable. Note last paragraph and advise urgently what date you insert for publication of note to Avenol.36

1. As we have heretofore been represented at the meetings of the Advisory Committee, and as refusal now to be represented would be likely to occasion various misunderstandings, you are authorized, upon the reconvening of the Committee, to attend on behalf of your Government in the character and under the conditions which attached to Mr. Hugh Wilson’s attendance in the past. There was set forth in Mr. Wilson’s note to the Secretary General of March 13, 1933,37 the following:

“The American Government is prepared to cooperate with the Advisory Committee in such manner as may be found appropriate and feasible. As it is necessary that the American Government exercise independence of judgment with regard to proposals which may be made and/or action which the Advisory Committee may recommend, it would seem that appointment by it of a representative to function as a member of the Committee would not be feasible. However, believing that participation by a representative of this Government in the deliberations of the Committee would be helpful, I am instructing the American Minister to Switzerland, Mr. Hugh R. Wilson, to be prepared so to participate, but without right to vote, if such participation is desired.”

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2. You will accordingly address to the Secretary General the following communication:

“I am instructed by my Government to inform you that I have been authorized to attend the meeting of the Advisory Committee summoned for [Tuesday] September [21] in the same capacity and for the same purposes as those in and for which Mr. Hugh Wilson previously attended, which were indicated in a communication from Mr. Wilson to Sir Eric Drummond38 dated March 13, 1933.

The American Government recalls that the Advisory Committee was created subsequent to and on the basis of a major decision in the field of policy arrived at by the Assembly in regard to a matter referred by the Council to the Assembly. In the understanding of the American Government, the Advisory Committee was created to aid the members of the League in concerting their action and their attitude among themselves and with non-member states for the carrying out of a policy recommended by the League. At present, until this Government is informed regarding the functions which the League will expect the Committee to perform, it is impossible for this Government to say to what extent it will be able effectively to cooperate.

In order that there may be no misunderstanding with regard to this Government’s position and no confusion or delay flowing from uncertainty, this Government feels constrained to observe that it cannot take upon itself those responsibilities which develop from the fact of their membership upon members of the League. It assumes that members of the League will arrive at their common decisions with regard to policy and possible courses of action by and through normal League procedure. This Government, believing thoroughly in the principle of collaboration among states of the world seeking to bring about peaceful solutions of international conflicts, will be prepared to give careful consideration to definite proposals which the League may address to it but will not, however, be prepared to state its position in regard to policies or plans submitted to it in terms of hypothetical inquiry.”

3. In presenting this, you should say to Avenol, in explanation of the concluding paragraph, that this Government feels that its position on the subject of peace, its commitments in various treaties, its views with regard to principles which should govern in international relations, its general policy in regard to problems of the Far East, the course which it has followed in regard to the present conflict there, and provisions of law which govern its procedure are well known and should enable the members of the League readily to perceive the general trend of this country’s policy.

Also please say that we intend to release the text for appearance in the morning papers of September [21] and that we assume that the Secretariat will desire to make simultaneous release.39

  1. Notice of convocation for September 21, 6 p.m., was received on September 20.
  2. Date is indicated in brackets.
  3. For full text of note, see telegram No. 86, March 11, 1933, 8 p.m., to the Minister in Switzerland, Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. i, p. 117.
  4. Then Secretary General of the League of Nations.
  5. The League Secretariat agreed to similar release September 21.