740.00111 A.R.N.C./166

The American Member of the Inter-American Neutrality Committee (Fenwick) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Dear Mr. Welles: Supplementing my telegrams of to-day and of the 13th and 20th [21st?] inst.,—the Neutrality Committee has now completed the draft of the Security Zone convention7 and will forward it, by the regular boat mail of Feb. 5th to the Pan American Union, which should receive it on February 17th and then forward copies of it to the American Governments.

The Department’s telegram of the 17th [16th?] inst. arrived after the definitive text of the treaty had been agreed upon,—the text not differing substantially from the one submitted to you in my letter of Dec. 14th. In answering the Department’s telegram it seemed to me that under the circumstances it was not advisable to attempt to revise the text already agreed upon, but rather to bury the whole convention by delaying its submission for signature. For, apart from the particular clause in Article III which conflicted with legislation pending before Congress, the convention as a whole was out of line with the new policy of the United States. I arranged, therefore, to have the convention forwarded to the Pan American Union as “not for publication”, and also to delay the forwarding almost a month.

Contrary to my expectations, when the convention came before the Committee for final signature, the proposal was made to eliminate the clause in Article III referring to warships making repairs and obtaining fuel in neutral ports, and after considerable discussion a majority voted in favor of it. With that clause out, it will not make much difference if the text is published in spite of our recommendation that it be withheld from publication.

You will understand my embarrassment in trying to act at once in a technical and judicial capacity and yet take account of the practical aspects of the situation and of the new developments in the policy of the United States. I am trying to use the best judgment I can under the circumstances.

I might add that Ambassador Labougle, of Argentina, substituting [Page 4] for Podestá Costa, is proving to be a very helpful member of the Committee. He combines right principles with good common sense.

One word more. The Committee expects to take up the Uruguayan proposal for the extention of territorial waters at its next meeting. I note the Department’s views on the subject. Also, the long-delayed problem of contraband will come up next week; but that is now water under the bridge.

I have completed the preliminary draft of a code of neutrality in some 130 articles, along the lines of the analysis I submitted to you two months ago. Each article will be accompanied by “Comment” explaining the background of the rule laid down and justifying its adoption. My plan is to submit the articles to the Committee one by one for discussion and criticism. That will keep the Committee going as long as the American Governments consider it should be kept going. I might add, on that point, that the Committee is serving a useful purpose just now quite apart from its technical functions as a Neutrality Committee. It is constantly referred to in the press as a “symbol” of inter-American unity. Even symbols have their value in these troubled times.

With warm personal regards,

Sincerely yours,

Charles G. Fenwick
  1. See Ata da 39a. sessão ordinaria realizada em 21 de Janeiro de 1941; Comissão Interamericana de Neutraldade, Atas, volume for 1941–42.