253. Proposal of the French Delegation1
MEMORANDUM ON DISARMAMENT
At the opening session of the Geneva Conference, the French Prime Minister explained the reasons which lead him to believe that the first condition of a lasting peace is progress towards disarmament.2 Assistance to the peoples of the under-developed territories in improving their general living conditions constitutes a second reason.
The French Government believes that these two forms of activity should be carried out side by side, and that the possibility of establishing an organic link between them should be investigated. Such a link would make it possible, at least in part, to solve the problem of control and of sanctions in regard to disarmament.
The French Government proposes that a reduction in the amount of military expenditure borne by the states be agreed by them, and that the financial resources thus made available be, either in whole or in part, allocated to international expenditure on equipment and mutual aid.
The essentially financial aspect of these proposals must be stressed. It will allow an overall view to be taken of military problems at a high level, and will make possible the transfer of military expenditure to productive expenditure at international level, for which purpose the national framework has been shown to be too limited.
A variety of problems will be created by the application of these provisions—the collection and distribution of the financial resources, and the methods of administering them—and this memorandum is designed to make certain proposals in that regard.
In order to establish the basis of the contribution to be made, each of the governments concerned would declare annually the amount it intended to appropriate for military expenditure during a period of twelve months, in effect, the amount laid down in the budget.[Page 522]
The first statement would concern the twelve-monthly period covered by the budget for the current year.
The declarations made by the states would be sent to an International Secretariat, whose chief task would be to ensure that a common definition of military expenditure was interpreted in the same sense by all the states. In order to make this possible, the Secretariat would receive copies of the civil and military budgets presented by each government to the parliamentary organs which, according to the constitution of its own state, have to vote or approve the budget. The Secretariat would also lay down a common nomenclature for all states, and would draw up a list of the categories of military expenditure, subject to any agreements reached, and according to the programme for the progressive application and control of disarmament.
The percentage reduction of military expenditure in any annual budget in relation to a preceding budget could be laid down for future years by agreement between the governments concerned. This would make it possible to calculate the amounts to be allocated to the International Fund for Equipment and Mutual Aid.
The amounts to be levied during the years concerned should be progressive, in order to lay stress on the need for disarmament. These amounts could be related either to the figure of actual military expenditure, or, if the Powers fix a common “normal” level of military expenditure in relation either to their national expenditure or to some other criterion, they could apply to the excess of such expenditure over the normal figure thus defined. This second formula would have the advantage of linking the size of the allocation more closely to the unduly high level of military expenditure maintained by some states.
- The use of the resources of the I.F.E.M.A. would be supervised by the International
Secretariat, whose task it would be to ensure their use according to
- In order that the peoples of the states concerned may be associated with the results of disarmament, the amount of contribution due from each state should be reduced, on the basis of the formula laid down, by part of the reduction in expenditure effected in the military budget between one financial year and the next. Each country would thus be able to make internal transfers according to whatever method it liked.
- Each state contributing to the fund should be in a position to use a portion of its contribution, to be defined, for the benefit of [Page 523]states of territories with which it is constitutionally linked. All that would be necessary would be to prove to the International Secretariat the need for such expenditure.
- A part of the remainder of the available funds would have to be used to place orders of all kinds in the countries providing the funds. This provision would prevent the reduction of armament expenditure from reacting unfavorably on the level of economic activity of each country by guaranteeing the existence of a certain number of orders to take the place of orders for military supplies.
- The balance would be used at international level, without any special restrictions, on equipment for underdeveloped territories. This allocation would be made in close cooperation with the international organisations within the framework of the United Nations, or even by those organisations themselves. It is, perhaps, worthwhile to stress the point that any states increasing their military expenditure would exclude themselves from the benefits to be obtained from the I.F.E.M.A
- The United States, the U.S.S.R., the United Kingdom and France would, of course, be associated with the procedure to be laid down. As, however, these four nations are all represented on the Sub-Committee of the Disarmament Commission of the U.N. of which Canada is also a member, it might be best to entrust to that Sub-Committee the task of determining the methods of applying this plan for disarmament and transfer.
I should like to submit the following merely as suggestions:
- The administration of the fund could be carried out by a managerial organ associated with the International Secretariat. Both these bodies could come under a common political authority on which, for instance, the appropriate Ministers of the Four Powers might sit.
- The use of the resources of the fund might be supervised by the managerial organ, which would necessarily be composed only of representatives of the Four Powers and of the nations prepared to adhere to the principles set out in this memorandum, but also of representatives of countries benefiting from the resources of the International Fund for Mutual Aid.
- So far as the application of the job is concerned, recourse to existing organisations such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and certain organs of the United Nations might be considered to avoid the creation of an international administrative organ, which would duplicate the work of those already functioning to the general satisfaction.
- The political authority alone would be competent to fix the amount of the contribution from each state. There might be alternative methods of procedure, according to whether the state concerned accepted financial supervision or not. If it refused, the contribution would be arrived at by applying the progressive rate of the levy to the figure of military expenditure declared for the first year. If it accepted, the contribution would be fixed on the figure of military expenditure for the current financial year as verified by the International Secretariat. The only choice open to the political authority, [Page 524]voting according to a procedure to be defined, would be between the figure determined by the International Secretariat and, in case of rejection, the contribution of a lump sum.
The proposals contained in this memorandum could be studied immediately by the Sub-Committee of the Disarmament Commission of the U.N., if the Four Powers represented here gave the necessary instructions to that effect to their respective delegates.