740.00119 EAC/4–2045 : Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

4043. See Embassy’s 3140, March 27, 3 p.m.61

Coulson in a personal conversation informed Penrose that United Kingdom officials have considered the points concerning United Kingdom views on restitution which Mosely and Penrose informally raised.
United Kingdom officials, he said, now agree that a restitution commission cannot be charged with the determination of individual ownerships since this would necessitate placing the commission above national courts of justice. They agree that the objective of a restitution commission should be to determine to which government’s jurisdiction of a given object should be restored, after which individual claims would be made in each case through the courts of that government.
United Kingdom officials agree that in practice this will generally lead to the restoration of looted property to the situs from which it was taken but they would prefer not to adopt a specific provision to that effect. They point out that dispute may arise not only on ownership but also in some cases on the situs from which certain types of property were taken. In such cases they consider it to be the function of a restitution commission to obtain agreement as to which government is to undertake the responsibility of deciding the individual ownership. They believe that if the provisions are drafted in fairly general terms, the prospects of obtaining such agreement will be maximized, since the commission would not be bound in every case to resolve the question of situs where evidence was conflicting, and might find it easier to obtain agreement on some other basis.
In regard to the questions which we raised on the provision in the United Kingdom memorandum for making the decisions of the commission final and binding upon governments, Coulson agreed that the first part of paragraph 6 of the memorandum will need to be redrafted. He said that the United Kingdom did not propose to prepare any further paper on the subject to put into EAC but would agree to the necessary amendments to the memorandum during the discussions in EAC. He is himself starting to redraft paragraph 6.
  1. Apparently this is an erroneous reference; the substance of this telegram indicates that the reference should be to telegram 3620, April 9, 9 p.m., from London, p. 1194.