500.C1/133: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Geneva (Tittmann)

13. Your 6, January 18, 5 p.m. Please convey informally to Avenol6 and, in your discretion, to Charron and Bourquin, the following:

This Government has followed with great interest the proposals for the reorganization of the technical and nonpolitical activities of the League and is in complete sympathy with the efforts being made to improve and to continue them as fully as possible during the war. It appears, however, that membership on or participation in the work of the proposed Central Committee would involve an automatic financial obligation on the part of this Government. Such obligation cannot under our laws be incurred without prior authorization of Congress. This Government would not desire to participate in the work of the Central Committee, even through an observer, without bearing its full share of the expenses and reasons of domestic policy make it inexpedient to request the necessary authorization from Congress at this time. (Moreover, it may be noted that a refusal by Congress to pass authorizing legislation might prejudice the more limited collaboration in the League’s technical activities that has been maintained in the past.) It is hoped, therefore, that the question of collaboration of this Government in the work of the Central Committee will not be raised at this time.

For your own information, this Government is prepared to continue its past cooperation with specific technical activities of the League if desired provided that no automatic financial obligation is thereby incurred. (The Department is giving separate consideration to the work of the Opium Advisory Committee. See telegram No. 9, February 5, 1 p.m.) Please report, after discussing the matter informally with officials of the Secretariat, whether in your opinion such continued collaboration will involve legal financial obligation by reason of the adoption of the new plan as evolved by the Bruce Committee.

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The Department intends to make a voluntary contribution toward the expenses of the technical activities of the League in which it participated officially or unofficially in 1938 and 1939 upon the same basis as the contribution made for the years 1936 and 1937, and you are instructed to request informally from the appropriate League authorities a statement of such expenses for 1938 and 1939 for transmission to the Department. Should the collaboration of the United States in the technical activities of the League be continued in 1940 the Department would likewise be prepared to make a similar voluntary contribution to the expenses thereof.

This Government will be prepared to reconsider the question of participation in the work of the Central Committee whenever, in the opinion of this Government, developments indicate such action to be expedient.

  1. Secretary General of the League of Nations.