740.00116 EW/1–1046: Telegram

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


303. From Hodgson. At meeting of War Crimes Commission, January 9, General de Baer,91 chairman of Committee 1, reported that Australia had proposed to Committee 1 that it charge and list 62 Japanese major war criminals for crimes against peace and crimes against humanity as mentioned in Embassy cable 177 of January 7, and requested [Page 387] Commission’s ruling on whether Commission’s competence included charging and listing persons for crimes against peace and crimes against humanity as defined in London agreement,92 He stated that he believed Commission’s competence did include mentioned crimes. Lord Wright agreed with him and indicated that the matter would be submitted for immediate vote.

I pointed out that inasmuch as Commission had not charged or listed anyone for crimes against peace or crimes against humanity matter was of such importance that representatives should be given opportunity to secure instructions from their Govts. This was imposed [opposed] by representatives of Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and Netherlands who believed that term “war crimes” as used in minutes of diplomatic meeting of Oct 20, 1943 was now controlled by Article 6 of Charter annexed to London agreement and therefore included mentioned crimes. They also cited law No. 10 of Control Council for Germany which in substance defines war crimes as including three classes mentioned in Article 6 of Charter. Representatives of UK, China and Norway supported my position and representative of China pointed out that London agreement only applied to European war criminals and that China had not acceded to it.

Lord Wright then stated that matter would be adjourned until meeting of Commission to be held on Jan 23 at which time the Commission would vote upon the question whether its jurisdiction included crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. He pointed out that question could be determined by majority vote and that views of great powers were not controlling.

I also urged that Committee defer action on Australian list and over objections of Australia and Belgium. It was agreed that action by Committee should be deferred until Jan 23, by which time representatives should secure the views of their Govts concerning list.

Sir Robert Craigie informed me that Australians not only want 62 persons charged and listed but propose that after this is done list and charges be released to newspapers.

In view of first paragraph of Dept’s 180 of Jan 893 received afternoon Jan 9 instructions are requested concerning my vote on question whether Commission has jurisdiction over crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. [Hodgson.]

  1. Dr. Marcel de Baer, Belgian representative, United Nations War Crimes Commission.
  2. Agreement for establishment of an international military tribunal for prosecution and punishment of major war criminals of European Axis, signed by the United States, France, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union, at London, August 8, 1945; for text, see Executive Agreement Series No. 472, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1544, or United Nations Treaty Series No. 279.
  3. Not printed.