United States No. 2 1928
FURTHER CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES
respecting the United States Proposal for the Renunciation of War
[In continuation of Cmd. 3109]
Presented by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Parliament by Command of His Majesty
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Further Correspondence with Government of the United States respecting the United States Proposal for the Renunciation of War.
Mr. Atherton to Sir Austen Chamberlain.
United States Embassy,
June 23, 1928
IT will be recalled that, pursuant to the understanding reached between the Government of France and the Government of the United States, the American Ambassadors at London, Berlin, Rome and Tokyo transmitted on the 18th April, 1928, to the Governments to which they were respectively accredited the text of M. Briand’s original proposal of the 20th June, 1927, together with copies of the notes subsequently exchanged by France and; the United States on the subject of a multilateral treaty for tile renunciation of war. At the same time the Government of the United States also submitted, for consideration, a preliminary draft of a treaty representing in a general way the form of treaty which it was prepared to sign, and enquired whether the Governments thus addressed were in a position to give favourable consideration thereto. The text of the identic notes of the 18th April, 1928, and a copy of the draft treaty transmitted therewith were also brought to the attention of the Government of France by the American Ambassador at Paris.
It will likewise be recalled that, on the 20th April, 1928, the Government of the French Republic circulated among the other interested Governments, including the Government of the United States, an alternative draft treaty, and that, in an address which he delivered on the 28th April, 1928, before the American Society of International Law, the Secretary of State of the United States explained fully the construction placed by my Government union the treaty proposed by it, referring as follows to the six major considerations emphasized by France in its alternative draft treaty and prior diplomatic correspondence with my Government:-
” There is nothing in the American draft of an antiwar treaty which restricts or impairs in any way the right of self” defense. That right is inherent in every sovereign State and is implicit in every treaty. Every nation is free at all times and regardless of treaty provisions, to defend its territories from attack or invasion, and it alone is competent to decide whether circumstances require recourse to war in self-defence. If it has a good case, the world will applaud and not condemn its action. Express recognition by treaty of this inalienable right, however, gives rise to the same difficulty encountered in any effort to define aggression. It is the identical question approached from the other side. In this respect, no treaty provision can to the natural right of self-defence. It is not in the interest of peace that a treaty should stipulate a juristic conception of self-defence, since it is far too easy for the unscrupulous to mould events to accord with an agreed definition.
2. The League Covenant.
” The Covenant imposes no affirmative primary obligation to go to war. The obligation, if any, is secondary, and attaches only when deliberately accepted-by a State. Article 10 of the Covenant has, for example, been interpreted by a resolution submitted to the Fourth Assembly, but not formally adopted owing to one adverse vote, to mean that: ‘It is for the constitutional authorities of each member to decide, in reference to the obligation of preserving the independence and the integrity of the territory of the members, in what degree the member is bound to assure the execution of this obligation by employment of its military forces.’
” There is, in my opinion, no necessary inconsistency between the Covenant and the idea of an unqualified renunciation of war. The Covenant can, it is true, be construed as anthorising war in certain circumstances, but it is an authorisation and not a positive requirement.
3. The Treaties of Locarno.
“If the parties to the treaties of Locarno are under any positive obligation to go to war, such obligation certainly would not attach until one of the parties has resorted to war in violation of its solemn pledges thereunder. It is therefore obvious that, if all the parties to the Locarno treaties become parties to the multilateral anti-war treaty proposed by the United States, there would be a double assurance that the Locarno treaties would not be violated by recourse to arms. In such an event it would follow that resort to war by any State, in violation of the Locarno treaties, would also be a breach of the multilateral anti-war treaty, and the other parties to the anti-war treaty would thus, as a matter of law, be automatically released from their obligations thereunder and free to fulfil their Locarno commitments. The United States is entirely willing that all parties to the Locarno treaties should become parties to its proposed anti-war treaty, either through signature in the first instance, or by immediate accession to the treaty as soon as it comes into force in the manner provided in article 3 of the American draft, and it will offer ho objection when and if such a suggestion is made.
4. Treaties of Neutrality
” The United States is not informed as to the precise treaties which France has in mind, and cannot, therefore, discuss their provisions. It is not unreasonable to suppose, however, that the relations between France and the States whose neutrality she has guaranteed are sufficiently close and intimate to make it possible for France to persuade such States to adhere seasonably to the anti-war treaty proposed by the United States. If this were done, no party to the anti-war treaty could attack the neutralized without violating the treaty, and thereby automatically freeing France and the others Powers in respect of the treaty-breaking State from this obligations of the anti-war treaty. If the neutralized States were attacked by a State not a party to the anti-war treaty the latter treaty would, of course, have no bearing, and France would be as free to act under the treaties guaranteeing neutrality as if she were not a party to the anti-war treaty. It is difficult to conceive, therefore, how treaties guaranteeing neutrality can be regarded as necessarily preventing ship conclusion by France or any other Power of a multilateral treaty for the renunciation of war.
5. Relations with a Treaty-breaking State.
” As I have already pointed out, there can be no question, as a matter of law, that violation of a multilateral anti-war treaty through resort to war by one party thereto would automatically release the other parties from their obligations to the treaty-breaking States. Any express recognition of this principle of law is wholly unnecessary.
” From the beginning it has been the hope of the United States that its proposed multilateral anti-war treaty should be worldwide in its application, and appropriate provision therefore was made in the draft submitted to the other Governments on the 18th April. From a practical standpoint, it is clearly preferable, however, not to postpone the coming into force of an anti-war treaty until all the nation of the world can agree upon the text of such a treaty and cause it to be ratified. For one reason or another, a State so situated as to be no menace to the peace of the world might obstruct agreement or delay ratification in such manner as to render abortive the efforts of all the other Powers. It is highly improbable’ moreover. that a form of treaty acceptable to the British, French, German, Italian and Japanese Governments, as well as to the United States, would not be equally acceptable to most if not all of the other Powers of the world. Even were this not the case, however, the. coming into force among the above-named six Powers of an effective anti-war treaty and their observance thereof would be a practical guaranty against a second world war. This in itself would be a tremendous service to humanity, and the United States is no willing to Jeopardise the practical success of the proposal which it has made by conditioning the coming into force of the treaty upon prior universal or almost universal acceptance.”
The British, German, Italian and Japanese Governments have now replied to my Government’s notes of the 13th April, 1928, and the Governments of the British Dominions and of India have likewise replied to the invitations addressed to them on the 22nd May, 1928, by my Government, pursuant to the suggestion conveyed in the note of the 19th May, 1928 from His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain. None of these Governments have expressed any dissent from the above-quoted construction, and none has voiced the least disapproval of the principle underlying the proposal of the United States for the promotion of world peace. Neither has any of the replies received by the Government of the United States suggested any specific modification of the text of the draft treaty proposed by it on the 13th April, 1928, and my Government, for its part, remains convinced that no modification of the text of its proposal for a multilateral treaty for tile renunciation of war is necessary to safeguard the legitimate interests of any nation. It believes that the right of self-defence is inherent in every sovereign State and implicit in every treaty. No specific reference to that inalienable attribute of sovereignty is therefore necessary or desirable. It is no less evident that resort to war, III violation of the proposed treaty by one of the parties thereto, would release the other parties from their obligations under the treaty towards the belligerent State. This principle is well recognized. So far as the Locarno treaties are concerned, my Government has felt, from the very first, that participation in the anti-war treaty by the Powers which signed the Locarno agreements, either through signature in the first instance or thereafter, would meet every practical requirement of the situation, since, in such event, no State could resort to war in violation of the Locarno treaties without simultaneously violating the anti-war treaty, thus leaving the other parties thereto free so far as the treaty-breaking State is concerned. As you know, the Government of the United States has welcomed the idea that all parties to the treaties of Locarno should be among the original signatories of the proposed treaty for the renunciation of war, and provision therefor has been made in the draft treaty which I have the honour to transmit herewith. The same procedure would cover the treaties guaranteeing neutrality to which the Government of France has referred. Adherence to the proposed treaty by all parties to these other treaties would completely safeguard their rights, since subsequent resort to war by any of them, or by any party to the anti-war treaty, would violate the latter treaty as -well as the neutrality treaty, and thus leave the other parties to the anti-war treaty free, so far as the treaty-breaking State is concerned. My Government would be entirely willing. however, to agree that the parties to such neutrality treaties should be original signatories of the multilateral anti-war treaty, and it has no reason to believe that such an arrangement would meet pith any objection on the part of the other Governments now concerned in the present negotiations.
While my Government is satisfied that the draft treaty proposed by it on the 13th April, 1928, could be properly accepted by the Powers of the world without change, except for including among the original signatories the British Dominions, India, all parties to the treaties of Locarno, and, it may be, all parties to the neutrality treaties mentioned by the Government of France, it has no desire to delay or complicate the present negotiations by rigidly adhering to the precise phraseology of that draft, particularly since it appears that, by modifying the draft in form, though not in substance, the points raised by other Governments can be satisfactorily met and general agreement upon the text of the treaty to be signed be promptly reached. The Government of the United States has therefore decided to submit to the fourteen other Governments now concerned in these negotiations a revised draft of a multilateral treaty for the renunciation of war. The text of this revised draft is identical with that of the draft proposed by the United States on the 18th April, 1928, except that the preamble now provides that the British Dominions, India, and all parties to the treaties of Locarno are to lie included among the Powers called upon to sign the treaty in the first instance, and except that the first three paragraphs of the preamble have been changed to read as follows:-
” Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind;
” Persuaded that the time has come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy should be madly to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations now existing between their peoples may be perpetuated;
” Convinced that all changes in their relations with one another should be sought only by pacific means and be the result of a peaceful and orderly process, and that any signatory Power which shall hereafter seek to promote its national interests by resort to war should be denied the benefits furnished by this treaty. ”
The revised preamble thus gives express recognition to the principle that, if a State resorts to war in violation of the treaty, I the other contracting parties are released from their obligations under the treaty to that State. It also provides for participation in the treaty by all parties to the treaties of Locarno, thus making it certain that resort to war, in violation of the Locarno treaties, would also violate the present treaty and release not only the other signatories of the Locarno treaties but also the other signatories to the anti-war treaty from their obligations to the treaty-breaking state. Moreover, as stated above, my Government would be willing, to have included among the original signatories the parties to the neutrality treaties referred to by the Government of the French Republic, although it believes that the interests of those States would be adequately safeguarded if, instead of signing in the first instance, they should choose to adhere to the treaty.
In these circumstances, I have the honour to transmit herewith for the consideration of His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, for the consideration of His Majesty’s Governments in the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa, as well as for the consideration of the Government of India, a draft of a multilateral treaty for the renunciation of war, containing the changes outlined above. I have been instructed to state in this connexion that the Government of the United States is ready to sign at once a treaty in the form herein proposed, and to express the fervent hope that His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and also His Majesty’s Governments in the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa, as well as the Government of India, will be able promptly to indicate their readiness to accept without qualification or reservation the form of treaty suggested by the United States.
If the Governments of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, the Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa and the United States can now agree to conclude this anti-war treaty among themselves, my Government is confident that the other nations of the world will, as soon as the treaty comes into force, gladly adhere thereto, and that this simple procedure will bring mankind’s agelong aspirations for universal peace nearer to practical fulfilment than ever before in the history of the world.
I have the honour to state, in conclusion, that the Government of the United States would be pleased to be informed, at as early a date as may be convenient;, whether His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, His Majesty’s Governments in the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa, as well as the Government of India, are willing to join with the United States and other similarly disposed Governments in signing a definitive treaty for the renunciation of war in form transmitted herewith.
I have, &c.
Charge d’ Affaires ad interim.
Enclosure in No. 1.
Draft of the Proposed Treaty.
THE President of the United States of America:
THE President of the French Republic;
His Majesty the King of the Belgians;
THE President of the Czechoslovak Republic;
His Majesty the King of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India:
THE President of the German Reich;
His Majesty the King of Italy;
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan;
THE President of the Republic of Poland:
Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind;
Persuaded that the time has come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy should be made, to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations now existing between their peoples may be perpetuated;
Convinced that all changes in their relations with one another should be sought only by pacific means and be the result of a peaceful and orderly process, and that any signatory Power which shall hereafter seek to promote its national interests by resort to war should be denied the benefits furnished by this treaty;
Hopeful that, encouraged by their example, all the other nations of the world will join in this humane endeavour and by adhering to the present treaty as soon as it comes into force. bring their peoples within the scope of its beneficent provisions, thus uniting the civilised nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy;
Have decided to conclude a treaty and for that purpose have appointed as their respective plenipotentiaries:
The President of the United States of America:
The President of the French Republic:
His Majesty the King of the Belgians:
The President of the Czechoslovak Republic:
His Majesty the King of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India:
For Great Britain and Northern Ireland and all parts of the British Empire, which are not separate members of the League of Nations: For the Dominion of Canada: For the Commonwealth of Australia: For the Dominion of New Zealand: For the Union of South Africa:
For the Irish Free State:
The President of the German Reich:
His Majesty the King of Italy:
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan:
The President of the Republic of Poland:
Who, having communicated to one another their full powers. found in good and due form, have agreed upon the following articles:-
The high contracting parties solemnly declare, in the names of their respective peoples, that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
The high contracting parties agree that the settlement or solution of an disputes or conflicts, of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
The present treaty shall be ratified by the high contracting parties named in the preamble in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, and shall take effect as between them as soon as all their several instruments of ratification shall have been deposited at ______________
This treaty shall, when it has come into effect as prescribed in the preceding paragraph, remain open as long as may be necessary for adherence by all the other Powers of the world. Every instrument evidencing the adherence of a Power shall be deposited at ________________, and the treaty shall, immediately upon such deposit, become effective as between the Power thus adhering and the other Powers parties hereto.
It shall be the duty of the Government of ______________ to furnish each Government named in the preamble, and every Government subsequently adhering to this treaty, with a certified copy of the treaty and of every instrument of ratification or adherence. It shall also be the duty of the Government of telegraphically to notify such Governments immediately upon the deposit with it of each instrument of ratification or adherence.
In faith whereof the respective plenipotentiaries have signed this treaty in the French and English languages, both texts having equal force, and hereunto affixed their seals.
Done at the day of in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty
Sir Austen Chamberlain to Mr. Atherton.
Foreign Office, July 18, 1928.
I am happy to be able to inform you that after carefully studying the note which you left with me on the Bard June, transmitting the revised text of the draft of the proposed treaty for the renunciation of war, His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain accept the proposed treaty in the form transmitted by you and will be glad to sign it at such time and place as may be indicated for the purpose by the Government of the United States.
My Government have read with interest the explanations contained in your note as to the meaning of the draft treaty, and also the comments which it contains upon the considerations advanced by other Powers in the previous diplomatic correspondence.
You will remember that in my previous communication of the 19th May I explained how important it was to my Government that the principle should be recognized that if one of the parties to this proposed treaty resorted to war in violation of its terms, the other parties should be released automatically from their obligations towards that party under the treaty. I also pointed out that rest for the obligations arising out of the Covenant of the League of Nations and of the Locarno treaties was the foundation of the policy of the Government of this country, and that they could not agree to any new treaty which would weaken or undermine then engagements.
The stipulation now inserted in the preamble under which any signatory power hereafter seeking to promote its national interests by resort to war against another signatory is to be denied the benefits furnished by the treaty is satisfactory to my Government, and is sufficient to meet the first point mentioned in the preceding paragraph.
His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain do not consider after mature reflection, that the fulfilment of the obligations which they have undertaken in the Covenant of the League of Nations and in the Treaty of Locarno is precluded by their acceptance of the proposed treaty. They concur in the view enunciated by the German Government in their note of the 27th April that those obligations do not contain anything which could conflict with the treaty proposed by the United States Government.
My Government have noted with peculiar satisfaction that all the parties to the Locarno Treaty are now invited to become original signatories of the new treaty, and that it is clearly the wish of the United States Government that all members of the League should become parties either by signature or accession. In order that as many States as possible may participate in the new movement, I trust that a general invitation will be extended to them to do so.
As regards the passage in my note of the 19th May relating to certain regions of which the welfare and integrity constitute a special and vital interest for our peace and safety, I need not repeat that His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain accept the new treaty upon the understanding that it does not prejudice their freedom of action in this respect.
I am entirely in accord with the views expressed by Mr. Kellogg in his speech of the 28th April that the proposed treaty does not restrict or impair in any way the right of self-defence, as also with his opinion that each State alone is competent to decide circumstances necessitate recourse to war for that purpose.
In the light of the foregoing explanations, His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain are glad to join with the United States and with all other Governments similarly disposed in signing a definite treaty for the renunciation of war in the form transmitted in your note of the 23rd June. They rejoice to be associated with the Government of the United States of America and the other parties to the proposed treaty in a further and signal advance in the outlawry of war.
I have, &c.