No. 127 UCDA P4/910

Extracts from a handwritten letter from Kevin O’Shiel to Hugh Kennedy

GENEVA, 20 September 1923

A Chara Dhíl

I send you herewith under separate cover copy of document No. 20/41/13 which is a memo. approved by the Council of the League of Nations on 19th May 1920, dealing with the question of the registration of Treaties.

It would seem quite clear from this document that the intention of the Council was to get all 'treaties and international engagements' in the widest sense of those terms, entered as the Records of the League.

On p. 5 I have underlined part of art. 3 which seems to bear out this as it refers to any international engagement or act by which nations or their Governments intend to establish legal obligations etc. The expression is 'nations or their Governments' and seems to cover all cases of members of the League. Elsewhere too the document will be found interesting as for example par. 4 which lays it down in a rather peremptory manner that 'registration is necessary for all Treaties' which become or have become finally binding.

Paragraph 6 makes suggestions as to how Treaties should be registered, dealing with the routine of procedure; and par. 8 makes it clear that 'Treaties or international engagements' may be presented for registration by one party only. Altogether I think you will find the document highly interesting. We had some difficulty in securing a copy.

Some days ago the Jurists' Committee rang me up and suggested that I should take your place thereon in your absence. I mentioned the matter to the Doctor1 who was of the opinion that I should go and hold a watching brief. I have attended a number of sittings since, but owing to the fact that I have a great deal of work in connection with the Sixth and other Commissions I have not been able to attend regularly. However I am watching the proceedings as well as I can and hope to give you an accurate account of what was done. As a matter of fact they are not progressing very quickly and I scarcely see how they will be in time for this Assembly.

I have heard it from a number of reliable sources that this Treaty2 will never pass through the Assembly as the opposition both to it generally and to particular clauses is very strong. I cannot of course say how accurate this information will prove to be but undoubtedly there will be quite vigorous opposition at the Assembly.

At the Jurists' Committee a point turned up the other day which serves to give an idea of the partisan feeling that still unfortunately prevails. The point I may mention was later happily adjusted to everybody's satisfaction at the Fourth Commission. The point was this: the Jurists' Committee wrote a letter to the 4th Committee suggesting some changes in the draft Treaty. One of those changes was in effect that as ex-enemy countries like Austria, Hungary & Bulgaria, now members of the League were bound in the first instance by the terms of the Treaty of Trianon and Versailles before they could be bound by the Covenant, and that as it was laid down in those Treaties that the very limited armies of those countries could not be used outside the frontiers ergo it was only right & fair, 'meet & just' that the special extra peace guarantees of the Mutual Guarantee Treaty should not be put into effect with regard to them!

In other words, as (for example) Hungary had been strictly forbidden by the Peace Treaties (a) to raise more than a certain number of soldiers & b) to employ those soldiers outside her frontiers, therefore she could not assist the League in any combined punitive expedition against an erring member and that therefore she was not entitled to receive the added security contained in the provisions of the Mutual Guarantee Treaty!

I have a busy time of it sitting on the Sixth Commission and substituting on one or other of the others. The Sixth Commission dealt with the Finnish recommendations in the case of Eastern Carelia (a kind of Finnish Six Counties) and practically accepted in toto the entire Finnish recommendations. This afforded me an opportunity to say a few words in support of the Finns of a non-committal and friendly nature which I did, being followed in almost identical terms by the Latvians, the Esthonians and the Poles. The matter was unanimously adopted by the Sixth Commission & today by the Assembly. The Finns have been profuse in their gratitude for my few words.

By the way the Marquis scored quite a big success on the Intellectual Cooperation Commission. He secured the representation of Ireland and of the Finns and Hungarians on the Permanent Special Committee of this Commission. Quite a thing this as there was opposition from an ambitious Frenchman who had other plans. Nevertheless in the 'final round' the Frenchman came round & the Marquis carried the day by 33 votes to 1 (Portugal) against, with 9 abstentions (including Norway, Sweden & Denmark). Norway played him a dirty trick as she (Norway being a lady in this particular Commission) promised to support his motion in the sub-committee but turned round afterwards and abstained. I will tell you about this in detail when I see you.

[Matter omitted]

By the way a nice young man called Antrobus3 has taken a kindly interest in us lately and shows it by doing us the honour of sitting on our bench at the Assembly beside us. He is there every morning before we arrive and always greets us with a winning smile. We rather fancy the intention is to let people see how near the connection actually is and how fraternal the interest is in the newest of dominions. There are other reasons also which are obvious.

Please excuse this hasty & very rough scrawl, but I am writing it at the Assembly where it is hard to give one's whole mind to it on account of the buzz. It is likely we shall be returning on Sunday week.

Kindest regards to Mrs. Kennedy
Mise do chara,
[initialled] C. O'S

1Eoin MacNeill.

2The Draft Treaty of Mutual Guarantee.

3M.E. Antrobus of the Colonial Office.

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