The American Member of the Inter-American Neutrality Committee (Fenwick) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)
Dear Mr. Welles: May I make a brief report to you of the work of the Neutrality Committee during the past month.
Since the completion of the recommendation on the Extension of Territorial Waters the Committee has devoted its entire time to the preparation of the General Convention on Neutral Rights and Duties which the Havana Meeting of Foreign Ministers asked the Committee to undertake. The basis of our discussions has been the draft code which I prepared some six months ago, a copy of which I left with Mr. Bonsai last spring. Work on the code proceeds slowly, chiefly due to the fact that two of the members of our Committee are so preoccupied [Page 13] with other official duties that it is impossible for them to attend meetings oftener than once a week. Doubtless if the completion of the code were a matter of greater urgency, this difficulty could be overcome. But the members are aware that the American Governments have already determined upon their policies in relation to the belligerents during the present war, so that the decisions of the Committee on the problems raised by the code are more or less academic in character.
Some thirty articles of the code have been approved in tentative form and are now being forwarded to the Pan American Union for submission to the American Governments for criticisms and suggestions. This procedure was not provided for at Havana, but the Committee is of the opinion that in view of the controversial nature of so many of the problems of neutrality it is desirable to submit a tentative draft before proceeding to the final draft. Together with the articles the Committee is sending brief commentaries upon each separate article. These commentaries will later be developed into an exhaustive study of the background of the particular article, accompanied by a complete documentation of previous conventions on the subject and of the legislation of the American States.
The Committee is taking a brief recess until the middle of November, and I am planning to return to the United States in order to attend to my business affairs.
I trust, however, that I may be able to use the occasion to discuss with you more in detail the future work of the Committee in the light of recent developments, and I would like to put before you some suggestions in anticipation of the Third Meeting of Foreign Ministers here in Rio, whenever that is to be held.
With warm personal regards,