Council of Foreign Ministers File: Lot M–88: CFM London Documents

Memorandum by the United States Delegation to the Council of Foreign Ministers 71

CFM(45) 1

Draft Agreement Establishing Emergency Regime for European Inland Waterways


Whereas an emergency exists in Europe requiring an immediate increase in the quantities of food, fuel, raw materials and productive machinery made available for the relief and rehabilitation of the peoples of the United Nations and liberated lands,

And whereas rail and other means of communication are unable to handle the burden of transportation needed,

And whereas the principal international inland waterways of Europe afford a natural means of transportation of supplies between many nations,

And whereas joint efforts will facilitate the early clearance of these waterways and their development to maximum usefulness during the transition period following the war,

Therefore, the Governments of France, the U.S.S.R., the United Kingdom, and the United States of America being governments charged with the responsibility for occupation and control of enemy states in Europe have agreed to the following temporary arrangement.

  • Article 1. Provisional international commissions shall be established at once for the restoration of navigation on the Rhine River system including the Scheldt River from Antwerp to the sea, the Elbe River including the Vltava from Prague, the Oder River, the Danube River system, and the Kiel Canal, together with their navigable tributaries and connecting canals.
  • Article 2. The provisional commissions shall be composed of the following states:
    The Rhine–Scheldt Commission:—the Four Signatory Powers, together with the riparian states, to wit, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.
    The Elbe Commission:—the Four Signatory Powers, together with Czechoslovakia.
    The Oder Commission:—the Four Signatory Powers, together with Poland and Czechoslovakia.
    The Danube Commission:—the Four Signatory Powers, together with the riparian states whose governments are recognized by them.
    The Kiel Canal Commission:—the Four Signatory Powers.
  • Article 3. The Council of Foreign Ministers may admit other states having a substantial traffic on any of the above mentioned waterways to participation in a provisional commission.
  • Article 4. Each state participating in a provisional commission shall designate one representative to sit on the commission. He may be accompanied by experts and technical assistants. Each representative shall have one vote in each commission in which it participates. Decisions shall be taken by a majority vote of the members present and voting, and shall be binding on the commission. Each commission shall provide for its own organization and rules of procedure.
  • Article 5. The seats of the various provisional commissions shall be located.
    for the Rhine-Scheldt Commission at Cologne
    for the Elbe Commission at Dresden
    for the Oder Commission at Stettin
    for the Danube Commission at Vienna
    for the Kiel Canal Commission at Kiel
  • Article 6. Except in so far as may be modified by the terms of the present agreement, the several provisional commissions shall function in accordance with the provisions of the treaties and conventions which were in force for each waterway before November 1936.
  • Article 7. Each provisional commission established by this agreement shall have the following powers and duties:
    Power to supervise and, if necessary, engage in dredging, blasting, and other operations essential to the maintenance of a constantly navigable waterway, and to undertake emergency construction work if the states fail to do so or are unable to do so
    Authority to distribute on an equitable basis available shipping tonnage of all kinds taken from the enemy, and to direct the use of this shipping, if necessary, for the relief of emergency conditions in any particular area
    The right to issue and enforce navigation and pilotage regulations, uniform service, tolls and other charges, sanitary and police regulations
    Power to judge alleged infractions of regulations and to impose fines for violations thereof
    Right to hold and use property and vessels of all kinds which shall be immune from local taxation and jurisdiction; to hire all necessary personnel
  • Article 8. The provisional commissions shall at all times maintain close relations with the Control Commissions in occupied territories. The commissions shall participate in the work of any inland transport organization which may be set up to coordinate the movement of traffic and improve European transport communications.
  • Article 9. The present agreement shall come into force immediately upon signature by the Four Powers. The agreement shall be open to signature by the other states mentioned in Article 2. Failure on the part of any of these states to sign the agreement shall not, however, prevent it from coming into force. The provisional commissions shall be convened at the earliest possible moment by direction of the Council of Foreign Ministers.
  1. This draft agreement was later revised by the United States delegation and was recirculated as C.P.M. (45) 44, September 22, 1945. The draft agreement as revised included an entirely new article, article 10, which read as follows: “A conference of all interested states shall be convened within three months at Prague to draft conventions for the establishment of permanent regimes for the regulation of the waterways provided for in this agreement.” Article 2 of the draft agreement was revised in the following manner: To paragraph (a) was added the following phrase: “and Germany as represented by the Control Council”; to paragraph (b) was added the phrase “and Germany as represented by the Control Council”; to paragraph (c) was added the phrase “and Germany as represented by the Control Council”; to paragraph (d) was added the phrase “including Austria and Germany as represented by the respective Control Councils”; and to paragraph (e) was added the phrase “and Germany as represented by the Control Council”. (Council of Foreign Ministers Files: Lot M–88: CFM London Documents)