890.114 Narcotics/35

The Netherlands Ambassador (Loudon) to the Secretary of State 18

No. 6578

Sir: Acting upon instructions from the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have the honor to transmit herewith 5 copies of a declaration of the Royal Netherlands Government with regard to the prohibition of the production and consumption of opium in the Netherlands Indies. The opium problem has been actively studied by the Royal Netherlands Government in relation with the measures which will have to be taken after the liberation of the Netherlands Indies. The reestablishment of Netherlands authority in that part of the Kingdom will create a completely changed situation which the Netherlands Government considers an opportune moment to prohibit completely the use of prepared opium in those parts of the Netherlands Indies where this was previously permitted and to abolish the opium monopoly.

The enclosed declaration of the Netherlands Government will be communicated to the Governments which are parties to the Geneva Opium Agreement of February 11th, 1925,19 and or, the Hague Opium Convention of 1912 and all other members of the League of Nations through the intermediary of the Secretariat of the League.

The Netherlands Government does not desire publication of the enclosed declaration at this moment as consultations with the British Government which is preparing a similar arrangement with regard to British Colonial territories are still in progress. Therefore, it will be much appreciated if the declaration of the Netherlands Government could be released to the press only after notification to that effect will be received.19a

In connection with the above reference is made to an aide-mémoire dated September 21st, 1943, No. 890.114 Narcotics/12, transmitting an American proposal with regard to opium regulations of which I acknowledged receipt in my note of September 29th, 1943, No. 5877. The decision of the Netherlands Government outlined in the enclosure was taken before the American Government’s proposal was received. The Netherlands Government considers that its declaration covers to a considerable extent the suggestions outlined in the aide-mémoire [Page 1078] of the American Government, to which the Netherlands Government intends to reply at a later date.

I avail myself [etc.]

For the Netherlands Ambassador:
W. van Boetzelaer

Declaration by the Netherlands Government

The Royal Netherlands Government, having considered its attitude with regard to the opium-smoking habit in certain parts of the Netherlands Indies after the liberation of these parts from enemy occupation, has decided to take all necessary measures for the discontinuance of that habit and for the complete suppression of the use of opium for smoking in the whole area of the Netherlands Indies. These measures will include the abolition of the Opium Monopoly.

This decision is based on the following considerations.

In certain parts of the Netherlands Indies smoking of opium was still authorised, in conformity with the rules laid down in the Agreement signed at Geneva on the 11th February 1925, which had in view to bring about the gradual and effective suppression of the manufacture of, the internal trade in, and the use of prepared opium as provided for in Chapter II of the International Opium Convention, concluded at The Hague on the 23rd January 1912. As a State signatory of the Protocol annexed to the Agreement of the 11th February 1925, the Netherlands undertook to strengthen the measures already taken in accordance with article 6 of the Hague Opium Convention of 1912, and to take any further measures which might be necessary in order to reduce consumption of prepared opium in the territories under their authority, so that such use might be completely suppressed within a period of not more than fifteen years from the date on which a commission to be appointed by the Council of the League of Nations, would decide that the poppy-growing countries had ensured the effective execution of the necessary measures to prevent the exportation of raw opium from their territories from constituting a serious obstacle to the reduction of consumption in the countries, where the use of prepared opium was still temporarily authorised.

For many years past the Netherlands Indies Opium Monopoly has endeavoured to restrict the use of opium as much as possible in order to pave the way for total prohibition as the ultimate aim of the Netherlands Government’s opium policy. Encouraging results had been reached and the total consumption was steadily decreasing.

When the Netherlands Indies have been liberated from enemy occupation, an entirely new situation will arise. The Royal Netherlands Government does not know what kind of opium policy will have been [Page 1079] applied during the period of the occupation. But it has come to the conclusion that it may avail of this opportunity to advance the moment of the complete suppression of the use of prepared opium and bring about its immediate and complete abolition.

The Royal Netherlands Government realises that, if total prohibition is to have the desired effect of stopping the habit of opium smoking, international cooperation is indispensable. It feels fully confident that such cooperation will not be lacking. It does not doubt that all Governments concerned will appreciate its decision and collaborate fully in order to eliminate the conditions which used to constitute serious obstacles to the effective enforcement of total prohibition.

At the outbreak of the war preparations for an international convention for the limitation of the production of raw opium had advanced to a considerable extent; these preparations are now being continued by the Opium Section of the League of Nations Secretariat within such limits as present circumstances permit. The Netherlands Government trusts that, when normal communications are restored, effective measures on an international basis will ensure that the exportation of raw opium from the poppygrowing countries will not impede the complete suppression of the use of opium for smoking, and that every effort will be made to prevent illicit opium from finding its way into the Netherlands Indies.

In cases where the health of addicts would be endangered by sudden abstention from the use of prepared opium, the Netherlands Government is prepared to take the necessary measures for their recuperation, namely by giving these addicts the opportunity of following a cure to be weaned of the opium habit.

  1. Acknowledged by the Secretary of State in a note of November 22, 1943, not printed. The note indicated readiness of the American Government to consult with other governments on measures for the limitation and control of the production of opium and suppression of the illicit traffic in opium (890.114 Narcotics/49).
  2. League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. li, p. 337.
  3. Announcement was made by the Netherlands and British Governments on November 10, 1943; Department of State Bulletin, November 13, 1943, p. 331. A statement by Acting Secretary of State Stettinius on the same date is also printed ibid.