710.League of Nations/88a

The Under Secretary of State (Welles) to the Colombian Minister (López)22

My Dear Mr. Minister: I wish to express again my deep appreciation for your courtesy in furnishing my Government a copy of the Draft Treaty Relative to an Association of American Nations which Your Excellency’s Government has formulated in collaboration with [Page 16] the Government of the Dominican Republic and which has been presented to the Pan American Union in accordance with the resolution adopted at the Buenos Aires conference in 1936.24 I feel that the two Governments which have collaborated in the drafting of this proposal merit the sincere admiration and thanks of the other American governments for the conscientious and painstaking labor which they have so obviously devoted to this task.

My Government is heartily in favor of taking all practical steps in the maintenance of peace in the western hemisphere. With this broad objective there can be no disagreement. The American nations have made substantial progress in perfecting a plan for the maintenance of peace, and the inter-American treaties which now exist between the American republics, many of which were signed in Buenos Aires in 1936, constitute a solid and satisfactory foundation for a desirable inter-American relationship. Upon this foundation such further agreements or amendments of existing agreements may be erected as experience, necessity and the desire of all the American republics may indicate as wise and necessary.

It is in the light of the foregoing considerations that the draft treaty now under consideration has been given the most careful study. It has become apparent from this study that the kind of inter-American relationship provided for in this draft is of much broader scope, both practically and juridically, than the existing treaties and peace machinery. It is the belief of my Government that a proposal so completely new in inter-American relations should receive over a protracted period the most thoroughgoing scrutiny on the part of the American governments. It would be essential to determine whether the proposal could be reconciled and coordinated with the constitutional and statutory laws of the respective nations, and the extent to which it might conflict with existing peace treaties in effect between various countries. A thorough study of this nature on the part of all the American governments would appear to be necessary before the wisdom or unwisdom of the essential character of the proposal could be determined and before these governments could properly be expected to make decisions of so far-reaching a character. Such a study on the part of the American governments would, I believe, require far more time than that which remains before the Lima conference assembles.

So far as the Government of the United States is concerned, I feel it only proper to point out that because of the conflict between many of the provisions of this project and existing United States policy [Page 17] and legislation it would not be possible for this Government to become a party to such a treaty as that proposed in its present form.

I am, my dear Señor López,

Very sincerely yours,

Sumner Welles
  1. This paper bears the notation: “Signed by Mr. Welles in view of fact that inquiry was addressed to him. Secretary read and approved letter.”
  2. Resolution X, Creation of a League of American Nations, Report of the Delegation of the United States of America to the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, p. 214.