No. 172 NAI DFA 417/105

Michael MacWhite to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(N.S. 174/23)

GENEVA, 13 December 1923

A Chara,

It is scarcely possible, at the present moment, to throw further light on the question raised in your letter No.293.1 All the higher officials of the League are absent in Paris, assisting at the quarterly meeting of the League Council. They are not expected back for another week. Mr. P.[helan] is also absent in London.

Strictly speaking, no real precedent exists for the Registration of the Treaty of December 6th, 1921. There has been a case where India has separately ratified a Labour Convention which is very likely what Mr. P. referred to, but that can scarcely be taken as an example. The situation of Ireland, at the time of the negotiation of the Treaty, was unique and no analogy can be found for it. Since Ireland joined the League, matters have, however, considerably changed. The Covenant imposes on her the obligation of registering the Treaty and, however obnoxious it may be to certain League officials to do so, I do not see how they can avoid it. There is no doubt but the British dislike registration of the Treaty. Their anxiety on the subject has frequently made itself felt in League circles. I am now perfectly satisfied that the inquiry made some time ago by a League official on this subject was on behalf of the British and not on behalf of the United States Minister as it pretended to be.

I am also of the opinion that the British attitude is largely one of bluff. In my preliminary discussion on the inter se Article with the British Delegate here, a few weeks ago, he stated that he would agree to no alteration. When on the following day, after my amendment had been handed in, he found that I was not intimidated in the least and that there was likely to be a big debate on the matter in public, he accepted the final article by which all the other Articles in the Statute were subordinated to the Covenant.

It seems highly improbable that the British Government would intervene after a demand had been formally made to have the Treaty registered, as they desire at all costs to be able to show a united front in so far as the Commonwealth of Nations is concerned. Besides, if the League stretched a point or two in favour of Great Britain, it would create a very bad impression, particularly in the United States, but that is exactly what neither Great Britain nor the League can afford under the present circumstances.

I will endeavour to have further inquiries made regarding registration as soon as the League Officials return but, in the meantime, I think it advisable that a certified copy of the Treaty and the acts of ratification of same be sent here to be held in readiness for presentation when the Government should so desire.

In view of my letter of December 10,1 referring to the British instrument of ratification it is all the more necessary that an immediate decision be taken on the matter.

Is mise, le meas,
[signed] M. MACWHITE

1Not Located.

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